Balancing work with any child at home is a challenge. It's even more of a challenge when you have an autistic child, because your child demands even more of your time and attention. Children with autism also have sleep challenges, so it can be tough to institute nap time the way you could with your other children. At the same time, a child with autism is sometimes able to enjoy time alone for longer periods than other children. Each child is unique, regardless of what their needs are, and you have to take into your account your child's personality, strengths and weaknesses to determine the best way to balance work and parenting.
Work Side by Side
If your child loves to work on the computer, then schedule time to work side by side. Your child, as young as two, can work on computer flash cards, toddler typing or watch a speech therapy or educational DVD. You can work alongside your child by doing work that doesn't require high concentration. It's not the time to write a medical article or draft a client proposal. It could be a perfect time to do some website maintenance, database entry or conduct quick research. You want to be able to multi-task and help your child (or reinforce a concept when needed). Balancing work does not mean that you should abandon him. The older and more autonomous your child is, the more concentrated work you can do during that period.
Work Off Site
Many autistic children struggle with attention deficit disorder, and running around or engaging in physical activity helps. Find a fast food restaurant with a play area or other institution with a play area, that also has Wi-Fi and an electrical outlet. You can let your child run and play, while you work and keep an eye on him. It's also a great way to get your child around other children, to get him used to interacting with others. Your child may not socialize with the other children, but he may enjoy their presence.
Work during Sleep Time
As you work on balancing work and your autistic child, you'll soon find out that you have to adjust your routine to fit his. You need a combination of short spurts and long stretches of work time to work on your business and to serve your customers or clients. The only long stretch of time you might get all day and night is when your child is asleep. You have to work with him often throughout the day, on speech therapy, sensory activities and home based occupational activities. That means that you either have to stay up late or wake up early in the morning. You have to be flexible, because a major characteristic of autistic children is that they're not consistent in their habits. You may have to work late one week and wake up early the next, because your child may not be consistent in his sleep routine.
Other moms are balancing work with an autistic child at home, and you can too. Don't focus on the autism when you're coming up with solutions. Concentrate on your child's unique habits and personality to determine how best to accomplish all that you need to.
Daphne Mallory, Esq. is the co-owner of Mallory Writing Services and has written more than 100 articles helping home based business owners and entrepreneurs start and market their business. You can learn more about her here.