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Home » Strategies for Working Parents of Children with Autism: Cultivating Flexibility and Finding Support

Strategies for Working Parents of Children with Autism: Cultivating Flexibility and Finding Support

Strategies for Working Parents of Children with Autism: Cultivating Flexibility and Finding Support

As a parent, your primary concern will always be your child’s well-being. When raising children with autism, it can be difficult to juggle your career while providing your kids with the daily support they need to succeed and feel comfortable. Your child has a variety of unique requirements you must attend to that can and will conflict with your work schedule at times. But, with some preparation and a healthy, supportive atmosphere, you can continue to work while giving your child all the care they need to thrive.

Let’s examine some helpful tips and tools available to working parents looking for the best way to raise children with autism while maintaining their careers.

Creating a Supportive Environment

Finding the right support is invaluable when you are in search of the perfect balance between working and caregiving. Whether you’re looking for an extra hand to help you out while you’re on the clock, or you need a financial subsidy to help you obtain caregiving services, there are resources out there that can lighten the load.

One of the best things you can do for yourself and your child is to join a support group. You’ll receive incredible advice from other working parents who have experienced both success and failure in different ways. This insight will help you cultivate a plan that works for you and your family. The groups don’t just meet in person, either – there is a collection of online support groups that work well for parents on the go, such as the Association for Autism and Neurodiversity (AANE).

There is also an abundance of local resources in your community geared toward providing parents with financial caregiving assistance for their children while they are at work. During summer vacation, finding care for your child while you’re working can be especially difficult and costly. Programs such as the C.A.R.E. Family Program can not only assist with medications and diagnosis costs, but can also help fund your child’s attendance at summer camps for kids with autism.

For parents who travel for work, obtaining respite care is another useful support option. Respite care is a short-term option available for caregivers who need time away, whether for personal reasons or work. These interim caregivers are paid hourly, and even though this option is only utilized for a few days to a month, it can get quite expensive over time.

Fortunately, there are respite care grants available, such as the Self-Directed Family Respite Voucher Program hosted by the Colorado Respite Care Program. This program in particular offers last-resort financial resources to low-income folks who need help paying for respite care services.

With some preparation and a healthy, supportive atmosphere, you can continue to work while giving your child all the care they need to thrive. Let’s examine some helpful tips and tools available to working parents looking for the best way to raise children with autism while maintaining their careers.

Balancing Work and Childcare

Even with a toolkit of helpful local resources at your disposal, finding the correct balance between your work life and your parental duties can be incredibly overwhelming. Depending on your career goals and personal abilities, you should aim for a flexible job whenever possible.

Work-from-home jobs are becoming more accessible than ever, especially for those in the tech and customer service industries. Many companies will even provide you with the equipment you need to get started, along with subsidizing your internet access and electricity bills. This is a great option for those who feel stressed about leaving their young children at home with a caregiver during the day.

With any job, remote or otherwise, it is important to be transparent with your employer about your situation. This means accurately relaying your child’s needs with your employer so you can come to a resolution that works well for everyone involved. Since children with autism may often miss school for health reasons, it’s important to prepare your job for any abrupt absences. Make a plan for delegating your workload temporarily to your colleagues and notify your boss as soon as you become aware of this change in your schedule.

One way to stay organized amid any chaos or change of plans is to create clear, visual goals for work tasks that align with your capacity as a working parent. The SMART goal-setting method can be helpful for working parents because it outlines specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound criteria that help you stay on track no matter the conditions. Having set, attainable goals can restore your sense of confidence, help keep your cool, and prove to your employer you have the tools to overcome whatever life throws at you.

Optimizing Your Home Life

At the end of the day, you’re more than a boss, employee, or parental figure. You are an individual who has needs and a desire for personal fulfillment and joy. It is important to make time for self-care each day. Having a firm wellness regimen, for example, can help you unwind at the end of the day with soothing bath products, lovely scents, and stress-relieving, low-impact exercise like yoga.

More than this, self-care includes knowing when to reach out for support. You owe it to yourself to find relief and assistance – look to your close friends or family to help you perform tasks like cooking meals or doing laundry to take a load off your shoulders.

Time management is also a crucial home-life component for working parents. Having set routines for each day can help mitigate the adverse symptoms of your child’s autism. Also, a routine offers a clear structure for getting your important daily tasks done, lowering stress for everyone involved. Have mealtimes at the same time each day, and always include an hour or two in the day for a fun activity, like a trip to the park or solving a puzzle together.

In all, adequate support and keen, thoughtful planning are key aspects of working while raising children with autism. Even though it’s easy to get bogged down by the sheer effort of it all, it is important to know there are always resources out there available for you to find success and happiness as a working parent.

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