Disclosure - my last post talked about how and when to inform people in the community about your child's disability. But what about people in the work place? Do you tell co-workers and Human Resources about your child's disability, and if so, when? Before you are hired? After? And how much do you share?
For those of us with less "traditional" employment, is our decision to work outside of the nine-to-five work world our way of dealing with the disclosure dilemma, by essentially avoiding it? How many of us work at home to optimize flexibility? And in doing so, are we letting potential employers off the hook?
Researchers at the Portland State University Research and Training Center on Family Support and Children's Mental Health have studied what they coin "Dilemmas of Disclosure" for both parents and human resource professionals. Their findings are summarized in the power point presentation: Caring for a Child with a Disability: Dilemmas of Disclosure for Parents and Human Resource Professionals.
This presentation includes some telling quotes from parents on the disclosure issue:
“Honesty with my employer. That has been the main
strategy and working very, very hard when life is
going well to make up for the times when I have to
be out from work.”
“I do try to be up front with selective people about
this. Some people I tell about my son’s emotional
disorder; to others I just say that my son has a chronic
illness that sometimes requires hospitalization.”
“All I’ve been able to do is explain to my employer
the reality of my life with an autistic child. Some have
understood and others have absolutely not!”
These Portland State researchers have also written a comprehensive article on the topic of workplace supports (and the shortage of them) for families who have children with special needs. This research in outlined in Disabilities and Work-Family Challenges: Parents Having Children with Special Health Care Needs on the Sloan Work and Family Research Network web site.
Fellow moms, please weigh in on this. If you are employed at a work place, how do you deal with the disclosure issue, along with the need for flexibility? Those of you with alternative work arrangements, how big a motivation is autonomy and flexibility? And for those moms who currently do not work "for pay" (because we ALL WORK) - would you be more willing or able to work if there were comprehensive protections and supports for employees who are parenting children with special needs?
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