Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is classified within a ‘spectrum’ of behavioral disorders that are often diagnosed in early childhood. Many children with autism struggle with communication, socializing, and exhibit repetitive actions. As a result, many ASD kids require hands-on parenting in order to meet their daily needs. As parents, you have to schedule health checkups, therapies and be their pillar of support. All of it can prove to be financially taxing since private health insurance does not always cover all costs. It is also emotionally draining since there isn’t enough awareness about the condition.
You don’t know when the next meltdown will be and what might trigger it, but you can almost be certain that people around you will be judging you for being different. Sometimes it might feel like you are alone as you care for your child and fight for acceptance, especially if you have given up a job in order to spend more time at home. That’s why it’s important to find a balance — to ensure you have the emotional support your family needs.
Here are five tips for striking that balance in your life:
- Take Up Freelancing: You could give freelancing a shot. There are many websites catering to your set of skills that can help you find work. Freelancing allows you to take on work you think you will be good at as well as regulate the workflow. You can take a break when you need to, and no one can hold you accountable for that. Freelancing also frees up your time leaving you to invest it in other things. You can work for a specific set of hours and without having to dress for or sit in an office. As a matter of fact, your kitchen table can be your office!
- Find Work Equilibrium With Your Spouse: Even though the intensity of ASD differs for every child, he does need your undivided attention. For a single parent to care for an ASD kid is a monumental task, and that is why spouses need to pitch in whenever they can. Your spouse and you can try to find work and home life balance, by stepping in for each other when needed. In this manner, your child will be aware and be able to normalize the involvement of both you and your spouse in his life.
- Teach At Your Child‘s School: If you are uncertain how to put your time to use after you have seen your kid to school, maybe you could consider teaching at his school. You can continue to be close to your child and see to his needs, as well as to the needs of many more delightful kids like him. You have the opportunity to share your experience as a hands-on parent of an ASD kid with other teachers, who may or may not have the same experience. You can engage in fun activities and games that may have been a hit with your kid at home, and see how these activities fare with a different and larger group of individuals.
- Find a Care Center: If your workplace does not have policies covering parents with autistic children and demands more commitment from their employers, you can try looking for a care center. It will take a considerable amount of time getting used to for your kid given he is unfamiliar with that space. However, if he can socialize with his peers, he should not have a rough time. Also, it is OK to feel guilty as you leave him behind on your way to the meeting, but you will also learn to acclimatize with this change.
- Try Telecommuting: Another option you could try out is telecommuting, or in other words, working from home. You should address it with your employer. You can begin by learning about the company’s policies on working from home and if they would apply to you. Working from home will allow you to be around your child, cater to his needs as well as meet deadlines at work.
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You have to remember that the intensity of ASD varies for every child. So, your opportunities to explore career options depend on how much your child with autism needs you to be at home, and the support you get from your spouse. It’s vital for both you and your child to find that balance in daily life so everyone is happy and healthy.
This article was featured in Issue 45 – Protecting Your Child with Autism