Friday, June 24, 2011

Autism families earn less

Here’s another one from the “No, duh!” category… I read an article that discussed how parents of children with autism tend to earn about 1/3 less than typical parents.

“Autism is associated with an average drop in household income of 27 percent, or $17,640 per year.”
The article goes on to say that the reason that families with autism earn less is because the “mothers of children with autism are less likely to work and when they are employed these moms tend to earn less than others.”
Does this come as a surprise to anyone? Not me. Not at all! I’m living proof. Most autism moms I know sacrifice quite a lot to parent their children. If they work, they have to find a boss who is willing to be flexible with them and all of their various requests for time off. You know, for times when you are being summoned by the school principal when your kid does something socially unacceptable and gets in big trouble, or you need to take your child in for an evaluation that you’ve been waiting almost a year to get and there was a last minute cancellation on the waiting list. The list goes on and on.
Then, for those of us who stay home, we are full-time moms (with all of the parts of the job that entails) as well as the fact that we have to chauffeur our kids to all of their appointments and then try to also be their therapists. We have to become magicians with our budgets in order to not go broke with all of the added costs, and we have to somehow carve out a few moments every so often to connect with our spouse.  
You know, a lot of people just don’t get it. They have no idea. Have you ever heard an off-hand remark about being “just” a stay-at-home mom? People have no clue about the additional complications and complexities of dealing with an autism diagnosis and all of the special things you have to do just to get your child through the day. Sometimes you can’t even aim high, you just hope to survive.
I guess the good part about articles like this is that when people seem to make light of your situation and basically dismiss you, there is some small feeling of satisfaction knowing that you are indeed correct. To all of my autism mommy friends, I know what you go through and I applaud what you do for your child. You are amazing. And, you do it all with less money. You rock, mama!
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