The Special Needs of Special Needs Parents
Yesterday I was told by my employer that, upon learning that A Special Space Center was becoming a reality, they will terminate my employment on the day the center opens.
So at this time, it appears that my job will end on August 22nd.
This was a very personal and poignant reminder of why I started A Special Space.
Parents of special needs children have a very hard time holding a full-time job. Employers are not aware of and often not interested in the special challenges present in the lives of families with special children.
I have been the HR Professional at my company for 3 1/2 years. During my tenure, I have had my hours cut and been demoted solely due to my son’s autism and the mental and medical care he requires. My story is not unique.
A study, published in the March 19 issue of Pediatrics, collected information between 2002 and 2008 on close to 300 families with autism. They found that earnings were 21 percent lower in families with an autistic child, compared with families of a child with other health limitations.
The study also found that mothers of children with autism earned 56 percent less than moms of children who didn’t have a health problem, and 35 percent less than moms of a child with other health issues. Mothers in the study were 6 percent less likely to have a job, and on average worked 7 hours less than mothers of children without a health limitation.
Due to the disproportionately high divorce rates among couples with special needs children, many of our special needs children are being raised by single parents. I am one of them. I must work. I have a house to pay for and food to provide. I desperately need my employer sponsored insurance plan to pay for my son’s care. Yet somehow in addition to being the sole financial support for my family, I must also be my child’s advocate, medical coordinator, therapist, transportation service, IEP team coordinator, consultant to the school, and many, many other things.
Hopefully A Special Space will be one part of this solution…offering exceptional care for exceptional kids…so that parents can feel comfortable that their child is being given the right kind of care while they are at work…if they even able to work outside the home.
As far as the rest of it goes, my hope is that I can bring our stories to the workplace and raise awareness of the special needs of special needs parents.