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Self Employed: Working From Home With an Autism Spectrum Disorder Child

Updated on April 23, 2020
L. Childree profile image

I am a single work at home mother to an autistic child. I am self employed to be available when my child needs me. It's tricky but I manage.

cluttered workspace
cluttered workspace | Source

Benefits to Working from Home

There are a number of reasons that parents choose to work from home. While typically mothers stay home with children there are now fathers that stay home as well. The benefits can be numerous personally and financially. At first parents may be uncomfortable leaving their new baby in daycare so one of them stays home but when you have a child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder the reasons for staying home can be a bit different.

Reasons to Work from Home

  • Parents are either uncomfortable leaving their child in a daycare or they can not afford to do so. There may also be a concern over missing important milestones if they leave their child in a daycare setting. A fear of having something happen to their child especially if the child has special needs can be present also.
  • Working from home allows more flexibility in scheduling which is useful no matter what age your children are. With special needs children it is sometimes vital that you be able to change your schedule without prior notice.
  • Autistic children can have meltdowns that make leaving them in a traditional childcare setting difficult.
  • A single income may not be enough for the family to survive on. When you have a child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder expenses automatically increase and there is nothing that can be done to prevent it.
  • The feeling of being your own boss is amazing especially when you are the only one that you have to answer to.

Work at Home Challenges

  1. Distractions and interruptions. Family and friends sometimes have difficulty understanding that just because you are home you may not be available to them. There are also the everyday noises such as children playing, the television, ringing phones and people at the door.
  2. Ensuring that you get time for yourself will require a bit of creativity. Finding a few minutes each day either before anyone else wakes up or after they have gone to bed may be the only way to achieve this at first.
  3. The temptation to take time off whether you can afford to or not can be difficult to resist.
  4. There isn't anything to fall back on if you don't make your income goals or if you run out of work.

Home Office

Working from home requires a place for you to work, having a small child means that you sometimes have to fight for that workspace. Small children are curious by nature and Autistic children are no different in this respect. They want to learn about the world around them once they come out of themselves to realize that it exists. It should be clear where the "office" is to ensure productivity.

Misplaced Items. Children will explore the world around them and make every effort to get what they are seeking. The kids aren't the only ones that can cause your things to be misplaced. If you can fit it into the budget a locking filing cabinet to store the items needed for work will keep them from disappearing. That is if you don't lose the key. You should also keep a copy of your child's schedule with your working schedule.

Increasing organizational skills can make the process of working at home when you have a child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Not only can it make you more productive but it can assist in reducing the frequency and intensity of your child's meltdowns.

A Day Off

Working from home is different from working in the traditional work place in all aspects. Taking time off is not scheduled for you by someone else when you work from home. When you make your own schedule it is up to you to determine when you can or can not take time off from working. The temptation to take long vacations when the urge strikes is a normal one for the self employed but it is not a practical one. There will be times when you have no choice but to take unexpected time off which means that you must always be aware of how productive you are being. A business does not run itself, when you combine working at home with having a child on the Autism Spectrum you have to run almost all aspect of your life as if it were a multi-million dollar corporation.

  • Lab work will require time away from working both for the drawing and receiving the results.
  • Evaluations of your child's diagnosis and skills.
  • Therapy sessions
  • Taking the time to give therapy at home to ensure your child is still actively learning.
  • There will be unexpected doctors visits as all children will get sick from time to time.

Therapy Outside of Therapy

Giving an Autistic child therapy at home is basically following through and reinforcing what the therapist have been teaching. You don't have to teach everything the exact same way but you will that Autistic children require structure which means having a schedule for the time you spend teaching them outside of therapy will help them to focus.

Therapy is expensive and not all of it is covered by insurance making finding time to actually work and teach your child yourself to aid the progress they make vital. The time that you take off from working has to be spent just as productively as the time working. You do not have to spend every hour of the day working but you do need to ensure that you work enough to cover your expenses.

Important Points

When you work from home with an Autistic child or any child for that matter having a schedule for your child to relate to can be helpful. Children on the spectrum are often driven by routine, since some of them are very visual a picture schedule can aid them in the understanding that you require time to work.

1099s and Income Records

You will also need to keep careful track of your income when you work at home so that your taxes are accurate. If you applied for and receive Social Security Insurance for your Autistic child your self employment income will be verified at the end of the year making it vital to keep accurate records.

Fill Out Applications and Research

Autistic children are considered disabled so make sure that you apply for everything that they could qualify for. It will make it easier to help them function if you have all the financial and emotional support that you can manage to acquire. This is going to require you to do your research to find out exactly what is available in your area and on other levels.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2011 Laurie Childree


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