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DS 3yrs probably has ASD. Will I be able to carry on working?

(25 Posts)
Elvisina Mon 04-Nov-13 22:05:41

I'm currently on Maternity Leave (DD 9 months) and am due to return to work in January. I'm a part time teacher (50%) with some added responsibilities which means I usually end up working several evenings a week on top of 3 days in school. I love my job but it is stressful and consuming during term time. Recently we have been through the upsetting process of realising that our DS has strong ASD symptoms. This came as a complete shock to us but since pre school picked up on issues it has now become much more obvious e.g. lots of repetitive play, sensory issues, flapping hands, drifts off into his own world a lot. I feel so silly for not noticing myself but in our defence it has only been since his speech has taken off in a big way this year that it became clear how much of his play was centered around the same scenes and there is also a bit of echolalia. We've agreed to him being assessed and his pre school have been very lovely and gentle with us. I am really gutted and tearful but have tried to be proactive by doing a lot of research, attending a family seminar on 'Understanding Autism', arranging visits to local schools to check out their SEN provision etc. However, I'm really worried that when I return to work I won't be able to dedicate the time needed to support him and I know these early years are so important. But I know I will feel so sad and lonely if I don't go back to the job I love. Money is not so much an issue for the next year or so as I will hardly be earning anything anyway after childcare costs but things would be very tight in the future without me earning. Also, I'm approaching 40 and it would most likely be very difficult for me to get a part time teaching job (especially in such a nice school with great colleagues who I consider good friends) a few years down the line. But am I being selfish? If it would make a dramatic difference to my Ds's development then of course I should give up work if we can just about afford it. Do most people with ASD children still manage to work? Obviously we don't yet know what the diagnosis will be and I understand the process can take a long time. I really need to make a decision soon so I can let school know. I'm sure the Head will be really supportive as he's a nice guy. Any advice/words of wisdom would be greatly appreciated.

PolterGoose Mon 04-Nov-13 22:29:22

I work 2 days a week, one short and one long day, both me and dp have variations in our hours do we can do school runs, it works for us. You don't mention a husband/partner, will your OH be working full time or able to reduce hours or work more flexibly?

I would say that getting the right childcare is absolutely key, we used a lovely private day nursery who were incredibly caring and inclusive.

Ikeameatballs Mon 04-Nov-13 22:35:06

I really wouldn't rush to make any decisions now. I know many families with a child who has ASD where both parents work. You need to make sure that whoever provides childcare for your DS understands his needs but don't think that you must give up work. The additional income in the future might be helpful to ensure that your ds get's the best care and therapeutic input that you can give him and it sounds like you will continue to enjoy your job.

Elvisina Mon 04-Nov-13 22:37:11

Thanks PolterGoose. My DH works full time and commutes so very long hours. Unfortunately the industry he works in does not allow for much flexibility although he would take time off for important meetings regarding our DS. I have the support of my mum who will do drop offs and pick ups on the days I'm working.

My DS has ASD and I work full time, so its possible. It takes a lot of organisation though.

Strongecoffeeismydrug Tue 05-Nov-13 07:19:05

My son has autism and I work 3 days a week, dh works nights and it is doable but can take a lot of organising as ds will only stay with family.
I must say tho that going to work gives me some normality and a chance to get away from some of the day stress/ strain.

I work too, I would say the main problem is if your DS needs more appointments with professionals outside school than other children - my 9yo DS has AS and has speech therapy on the NHS, it is weekly sessions for a couple of months then a break, then more, but they have to be on a Tuesday as that is when the clinic is and someone has to take him. My employer is very flexible, but teaching Is different. Agree that working is a great way to take your mind off it all.

At least you won't have to worry about school holidays, that can be a problem if your DC cannot cope with mainstream holiday clubs, mine can but if he couldn't life would be much harder in the holidays.

mummytime Tue 05-Nov-13 07:53:48

I would just say, don't be in too much of a hurry to quit your job, even if it becomes difficult. Go for reduced hours/responsibility first.

Because your job may become a lifeline in keeping you sane!

JKB185 Tue 05-Nov-13 13:43:03

I'd agree with the need to keep something "outside" ASD to do - but it really does need to be flexible and understanding. I went back to uni to do some more studying while adapting to managing DS' ASD and found it ideal to have a very flexible programme. Even now, four years on, I can't work full time or anything that involves evenings.

Mollyweasley Tue 05-Nov-13 15:04:18

My DS has Aspergers Syndrome. I don't work at the moment but I am looking for something part time/flexible. I would agree not to rush into leaving your job especially if you love it. You can always go back to work and see how you get on.

I work full time..but school hours which means I don't need child care.

I actually work in a special school and the majority of our parents work so in general I'd say it is perfectly doable.. you just have to adapt a bit.

Also initially there may be a fair few assessments, appointments etc but these do tend to tail off, and then it simply depends on your child's needs.
My son has ASD but I have not had any diffifculty working, and to be honest I think it has saved my sanity at times.

I think ideally I would have liked to go part time would have made life easier!

mummytime Tue 05-Nov-13 16:31:48

Do also remember that every child with ASD is different, and their issues are different too. So just what needs and demands on your time there will be no one here can tell.

stillstanding29 Tue 05-Nov-13 16:52:23

I have changed my job, I used to teach very part time covering for PPA time in a primary school, but I have not been able to keep that up.
I have found that I really need to focus on things at home. Stress from work and at home was too much for me.. But my situation sounds more complex than yours; ds3 is autistic and has mld and a heart condition and ds2 has medical needs.

I still work in a school (very part time again in a special school) but not as a teacher. I like my job and it leaves me with enough energy to deal properly with things at home. I also find I have more time to process the emotional stresses and strains of my home life (If that makes any sense). We still have lots of appointments and I find that issues are always coming up that need my attention eg, checking ds2's school have remembered to put in place his exam support ( they hadn't).
I'm not writing this to encourage you to stop work. I feel quite fed up with myself for not being able to carry on teaching. But my perspective is that a different job is working better for me and my family responsibilities overall.

Hope that's a useful contribution.

Tambaboy Tue 05-Nov-13 18:44:30

I currently work 30 hours of flexitime a week and always pick DS 6 (asd) from school while DH drops him off in the mornings. Ds stays with his childminder (we've had her since he was 2 y.o. ) during school holidays. My managers have been really understanding and they have allowed me to change my hours to suit my family needs. Now I have been granted a career break and I'll be having a year off work. I wouldn't want to give up my job forever but I felt I needed some extended time off to concentrate on family matters (elderly parents).
I think you could do both but it needs quite a bit of organising.

zzzzz Tue 05-Nov-13 19:57:21

It wouldn't work with my ds, but his issues are heavily weighted towards language disorder and lighter on other facets of ASD. I suspect it might be possible for me to work when he is older, but maybe not. confused

Twinmummy2512 Tue 05-Nov-13 21:07:35

I'm assistant Head at a secondary school and my son (one of twins) has autism. I can firmly say that without working I would go nuts! I'd also be a worse mum...... He has a statement of sen and attends a special school.

Yes, there are days that I still think I'm a bad mum, but I guess it's up to you.... Either way, 'working mum guilt or non working mum guilt' will get to you:-)

LadyInDisguise Tue 05-Nov-13 21:13:54

It will also depend a lot on how much and how your dc is affected. He is still young and his needs will vary a lot in the next few years. It might be that he will be oK to start with, then will need more input from you and then again will be more 'independent'.
Maybe it would be easier to play it by ear and see how he is as he grows up. Taking a decision now is way too early.

Swanhilda Tue 05-Nov-13 22:15:32

I'm a SAHM and Ds2 has ASD which wasn't diagnosed till he was 8. If I wanted to work now in school hours it would be perfectly doable, as the appointments are minimal. He goes to secondary Yr 7, and although school hours themselves are fine, I wonder whether he might not struggle to do homework and wind down without an adult at home?? Maybe he would manage in a Homework club but I'm not so sure. Certainly he is doing better than I suspected, and coping very well, with our support when he gets home.

Looking back I think ds2 did benefit from doing reduced hours in Reception and only 2.5 hr days in nursery when he was 3/4 (term time nursery) He found school a welcoming place and we did not have any school issues till he was older and in KS2; I wonder whether he wasn't forced too early into a social setting that made too many demands on him? Anyway who knows, every child is different.

Ds2 is very attached, and secure in his home environment and I'm not sure how much that had to do with me being a SAHM or not.

It takes a lot of out of me dealing with 3 kids, two with SNs (although ds1's is minor), but I suspect if I had a parttime job I loved, which was well within school hours and a day off to boot, I would be fine fitting it in. In fact I should look for one!! [rueful]

2boysnamedR Tue 05-Nov-13 23:33:13

I work four days a week in a corporate role. I have three kids so that in itself is hard. My ds has sen and looks like the baby is on the same path. It's hard but work are very good and as I am part time there's lots of room for both to be flexible. I have just started to work from home one day a week. It's hard but I would never leave. It's me time. Adult brain time where I'm not mummy - I'm me. There's no right or wrong but just give it a go before making any long term decisions. Yes there are lots of appointments but you can ask to fit them around you.

Elvisina Tue 05-Nov-13 23:36:58

Thanks everyone! Really good advice here. I suppose I'm just still so shocked by it all that I'm trying to work out how life changing this is going to be for us and actually that's not possible to properly judge yet. I think I'm going to see if it's possible for me to pass my extra management responsibilities onto someone else (hopefully should be as there are a couple of young colleagues eager to progress their career) and then just be paid as a teacher. I'll ask for a meeting with my Head soon to have a chat about it all. Thanks again.

Swanhilda Wed 06-Nov-13 15:55:24

Never underestimate the stresses of chasing appts up, bureacracy, talking to SENCOs, even if the time itself is not that great. You should factor in whether job creates additional stresses and emotional demands.

youarewinning Wed 06-Nov-13 19:23:31

I'm a lone parent and work ft (hlta in special school) I'm doing to ou degree to become a teacher and graduate next year. I've found being honest with my employer extremely helpful and also because it's a job in education they understand the need to attend appointments etc and his school and mine are flexible re day time meetings with senco. so first thing or end of the school day.
Do you have any after school clubs run by sure start centres or anything close by? I use one for DS and have found they are great and inclusive and again because it's sure start they are understanding and supportive.
Re finances : have you considered and have you yet completed a claim for DLA. This money does help with paying for the xtra things a child with additional needs requires and if it turns out working doesn't work out for you yet or maybe until he reaches school age you should then also be able to claim carers allowance which will assist you financially if you can't return fully to your role. It can be difficult to claim for dLA for a child under 5 but it is worth perusing if you have reports from professionals.

FWIW you sound extremely caring and willing to be flexible to your DS needs so I think your family will be just fine. Welcome to MNSN boards - my personal lifesaver!

2boysnamedR Wed 06-Nov-13 21:52:24

I practically revolve around my ds and his sen. I kick arse with the senco weekly, I am taking a refusal to asses to tribunal, I am taking ds to ot weekly, i am arranging his private salt, i am chasing his pead for a sx, i am taking my baby to the hospital, physio, ot, eye tests, hearing tests, thinking about genetic tests.

I never imagined I could do this, but I can. It's hard but I do it well. Something has to give but that's my housework. It will still be there in a few years once life settles ( it this happens)

Cailinrua Fri 08-Nov-13 23:06:36

I've been in the same position Elvisina and I'm a teacher too. I was so stressed and upset by the diagnosis of my DS that I wanted to give up work completely but I am so glad now I didn't. I did take a career break and then returned part time (just 2 days a week) but chose to give up my extra leadership responsibilities permanently. This was the right decision and immediately alleviated lots of stress and pressure. Parenting a child with ASD brings enough stress so anything which can minimise this is a good idea.

Fast forward a few years and I now hope to return to work full time or ideally 4 days a week next year. I never thought this would be possible but now my children are getting older, I feel I am better working to make more money which I can use to pay for help for my DS. Also work can be easier than being full time at home sometimes! Definitely try to ' keep your hand' in work in some way even it means working just a day a week etc. It will then be much easier to get back into it than if you have given up completely.

lisad123everybodydancenow Sat 09-Nov-13 19:28:36

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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