June 2008


I recently participated in a “member spotlight” thingy at my site, Lotsofkids.com.  You know, where people ask you questions about your life and stuff.  One question asked was not really expected, but it ended really making me think.  See, for the mostpart, my husband and I have been very fortunate with our job situations.  We both held jobs with companies that were accomodating to our needs parenting a SN child.  My husband is out of work now, but it is something that he keeps in mind when looking at prospective employers.  Will a new job allow him some flexibility in order to deal with the needs of our son, such as time off for IEPs and such.  Anyhow, my community members are somewhat familiar our situation, and during the spotlight I was asked the below question.  My answer follows.  I’d love to hear some of your opinions in the comment section as to things you’d like to see.

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What would you like corporations to offer their employees when they have special needs? I know you’ve been blessed in this area, are there more things you would like to see?

I think the biggest and best thing in the past, and something I wish more corporations would embrace, is flex time for employees. Meaning an employee works their set hours (say 9-5) the majority of the time, but if there is a meeting, doctor appointment, or emergency, the employee can take the time off as long as they make it up. With my job, if I need to go to a meeting, I can come in late and simply make the time up working that night or coming in early the next day.

Not all jobs/industries can offer this, but another plus would be the ability to have work-at-home days. On those crazy days where you have a mid-afternoon meeting with a therapist, and you can’t really do a half-day either in the morning or afternoon, it would be nice to telecommute that day.

Another thing, and this is something I think corporations should really start considering, is sensitivity training. The number of people with special needs children in America (the World actually) is growing. In Jim’s last job, he was often told not to tell his co-workers that he was able to leave early and make up his time. They feared that other employees would demand the same. However, it was not the same situation. Jim was not leaving just because he wanted to, he had appointments and other important matters. Sometimes making up the time would mean he would have to be there until 9:00, far after the others went home. It would have been far better if the other members of his team knew the situation. It would have been nice if employees understood and were supportive of what was going on and didn’t whisper that he was getting preferential treatment. It’s hard enough dealing with a special needs child without having to worry about co-workers questioning him and him having to do a tap dance. The bottom line is that it would be nice if employers were sensitive to the situation and did not hold it against employees. Nobody chooses to be in the position of having a special needs child, and it’s hard when you have to deal with grief from an employer because of it.

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Recently, we have added two new members to our house.  The interesting part of this is that I have had a chance to really observe P.  At a previous visit, I thought that P was having some issues.  Now, I am certain that this is true.

As I watch P, I notice some eerie similarities to Taylar.  So much of what he does is just like she was at that age.  The constant repetition, the unusual quirks, etc.  In addition, I am noticing major sensory issues and complete meltdowns on a regular basis that are much larger than the “average” child his age.  I hate to say autism, but I am afraid that it is true.

This whole experience has effected me in a profound way.  It has brought me back to my time with Taylar and her intial diagnosis stage.  Was it a shock?  No.  Did I have a suspicion that SOMETHING was going on?  Absolutely.  Did any of that make the OFFICIAL diagnosis any easier?  Heck no!  My heart just goes out to A.  P is her only child and to be facing a possible diagnosis must be KILLING her.  I try to be sympathetic and helpful, but I have come to realize that she will just need to accept things in HER time.  It will not happen any sooner with encouragement or comments from others.  It is a face to face reality that she must face when SHE is ready.

Till then, I will be there to listen and lend an ear or shoulder.  That is all I can do…