When my son Norrin was first diagnosed with autism, many people asked if I would quit working. I knew why they asked. At the time of diagnosis, Norrin was 2-years-old, he had the cognitive level of a 14-month-old and the language level of a 7-month-old. We were offered 15-20 hours a week of home based ABA therapy, 15 hours of center based therapy (a special needs preschool) and 3 hours of speech therapy. It was also suggested that Norrin be evaluated for occupational and physical therapy. As a working parent, how was I going to fit all of this into our day? How could I be part of his therapy?
Quitting my job wasn’t an option. Our family needed two incomes. I talked to my boss and I rearranged my work schedule. And my husband, Joseph, did the same. We managed to make things work and still take turns participating in Norrin’s therapy sessions.
Joseph has a new job with much less flexibility, so now the bulk of responsibility falls on me…which can be stressful. I am lucky enough that my boss is understanding of our situation. I can’t work from home, but my hours are flexible – so long as I work my 35 hours.
On Wednesdays, I leave work at 1pm. It’s my day of the week to get home early, pick Norrin up from the bus (or from school) and be a part of his therapy sessions. It’s not much, but it helps. The other day a coworker made a comment on how she wished she had the perk of leaving early. I don’t consider leaving early one day a week to care for my special needs child much of a perk. Because if Norrin were a typical kid, I’d work a straight 9-5 or 8-4 like any other secretary.
Today (September 16th) is Working Parents Day and I thought I’d share the pros and cons of being a working parent when your kid has special needs.
What are your pros and cons of being a special needs working parent?
Catch up with Lisa’s latest Babble posts:
- 7 Tips to Ease Transitions for Kids with Autism
- A Summer of Firsts Captured on Instagram
- Oh! The Things I Would Do If I Had My Kid’s Energy
- 6 Video Games My Son with Autism Loves To Play
- The Only That Matters When Your Kid Has Autism
Read more of Lisa’s writing at AutismWonderland.