It’s not secret that families that have a child with autism have to make compromises and work extra hard to keep the environment they live in a warm and nurturing one. Every child requires attention that overlaps with a parents work schedule: sports commitments, doctor’s appointments, school obligations.
When a child has autism, they need even more attention, which further cuts into his or her parent’s careers. Researchers at Washington State University have recently found that in a family with a child that has autism, the mother’s career suffers more so than the fathers.
Out of the mother’s surveyed for the study, researchers found that over 50% worked fewer hours because they had to take time off to care for their child. Three out of five mothers had to reject job offers as a result of their commitment to their child. Lastly, one out of four mothers had to either reject a promotion or take a period of sabbatical to look after their child.
Dana Baker, the mastermind behind the study, concluded that the responsibility of booking and attending appointments for the child falls onto the shoulders of the mother. Baker also found that in the majority of the cases, employers were less than understanding. They refused to reschedule meetings and reshuffle priorities, and would scold employees for not being able to attend. Companies must reform their policies towards parents who have unavoidable commitments.
“Understanding how to adapt programs and policies to better fit the more intractable challenges of these parents represents a vital responsibility of the 21st century,” said Baker.