Support for Families of Children with Speech Disorders
After your child is diagnosed with a speech disorder, you’ll likely spend your days looking for a speech therapist, going to IEP meetings, and Googling his speech disorder with every spare minute you have. Raising a child with special needs is a full-time job in itself. If you have more than one child, you’ll also likely need to help the sibling cope with the fact that his little brother or sister has a speech disorder.
Every family’s situation is unique. You and your partner may both work full-time jobs, or one of you may be able to devote the whole day to the kids. Regardless of your family’s resources and schedule, dealing with a speech disorder can be stressful. Consider ways in which you can rearrange your daily routine and work schedule to make life go a bit smoother.
The 2005 – 2006 National Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs, conducted by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau notes that nearly 20 percent of families of children with special needs report a financial burden as a result of the disability. That number shoots up to 42 percent amongst the uninsured. This financial burden is due to a combination of increased healthcare expenditures and the likelihood that a parent will take time off of work or quit a job entirely.
Exploring Alternative Work Options
If you find that it’s impossible to take care of your speech disordered child while working a full-time job, sit down with your partner and brainstorm a list of possible options. One of you could switch to part-time hours or quit the job entirely. If this is a viable option, the parent with the most comprehensive health insurance coverage through his employer should keep his job. A temporary leave of absence is also a possibility.
Some employers may consider flextime, in which you would work a full 40-hour week, but change your schedule to 10 hours four days a week or something similar. Job sharing is another option, in which you and one other person would share a full-time job. This may work in situations in which your employer will not allow you to work part-time.
Getting Outside Help
If you are a single parent or cutting back on hours is not a viable option, consider hiring a babysitter who can take your child to speech therapy sessions. You could also ask the child’s grandparents or other family members to take on transportation duties occasionally. Some speech therapists might also be willing to make house calls or to work with your child at his daycare center. You can also take advantage of the free speech therapy within the public school system.
The Family and Medical Leave Act
Talk to your employer’s human resources department if you are considering taking a leave of absence. You may qualify for a leave of absence under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) if you have worked for the employer for at least 12 months (not necessarily consecutive months) and if you have worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12 months immediately prior to the leave of absence. You must also work for an employer who employs at least 50 people within 75 miles of the job location. If you qualify, you are entitled to 12 weeks of unpaid leave within a 12-month period.
Support Groups for Parents
While arranging a new work schedule is important, do not neglect to take care of your emotional health as well. Being a caregiver can be an emotionally draining job. Connect with support groups for families of children with speech disorders. Ask your child’s speech therapist and pediatrician for listings of local groups or talk to other parents at his school about local resources. Organizations with support groups often specialize in one type of speech disorder, such as The National Stuttering Association and The National Aphasia Association.