The United States is home to more than 11.2 million children with special needs, according to the Journal of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association. Many parents of neurodivergent children struggle to manage their family’s unique needs, especially working parents who must juggle their personal and professional lives.
To better support employees and retain talent, many employers are offering family-focused employee benefits that provide flexibility, financial assistance and specialized care.
Importance of Offering Parents Adequate Support
Neurodiverse children may have one or more diagnoses, such as autism spectrum disorder, sensory processing issues, attention deficit or hyperactivity disorder, Tourette syndrome, or learning disabilities, such as dyspraxia, dysgraphia or dyslexia.
Despite modern treatments for these conditions, caregivers are often tasked with shouldering a long list of responsibilities. Parenting a neurodivergent child can be exhausting and is often accompanied by stress and feelings of guilt, shame or inadequacy.
Employers can help parents of neurodiverse children by providing benefits designed to make their life a little easier, especially when it comes to workplace flexibility. Parents need flexibility to navigate their child’s ever-evolving needs, which often include chronic healthcare and educational demands.
Parents of neurodiverse children often experience difficulty in securing reliable childcare. Even in positions that allow employed parents to work from home or on a hybrid schedule, these parents are often forced to take time off to take their child to occupational therapy, medical appointments, or unplanned visits to professionals.
The mental health toll on parents of neurodiverse children can also be significant. According to Frontiers, parents of neurodivergent children commonly experience high levels of stress and struggle to assess the support they need.
How Employees Can Support Parents of Neurodiverse Children
Today, employers can make a difference in the lives of employed parents with neurodiverse children by offering comprehensive caregiving benefits. Here are some of the ways that organizations can restructure the workplace and advocate for and improve the daily lives of employees raising neurodivergent children.
1 .Make Resources Readily Available
Whatever caregiving benefits an organization chooses to provide, it is important that they are easily accessed, and employees understand how to use them. This information should be well-documented and available upon request.
2. Reevaluate Work Schedules
Flexibility is one of the greatest benefits that employers can offer parents with neurodiverse children. From paid time off (PTO) to hybrid work, these flexible work arrangements enable parents to meet the unique needs of their children without sacrificing their work performance. It is also important for management to support flexible schedules by not overstepping boundaries. For example, avoid scheduling meetings in the late afternoons when parents must pick up their children from school.
3. Offer Financial Assistance
Parents of neurodiverse children are often forced to retain their jobs to financially support their families. However, many still find difficulty keeping up with expenses, especially with children that require frequent medical care or professional services. Some ways that employers can provide financial assistance are in the form of on-site child care or stipends for child care. A recent survey by Care.com revealed that 67% of parents who do not currently receive subsidized child care would be more loyal to their current job if subsidized child care was provided.
4. Bring in Experienced Counselors
Caring for a child with a neurodiverse condition can be time-consuming and fatiguing. Many parents of neurodiverse children find it difficult to focus on other priorities, such as getting the mental, physical or financial support they need. Employers can support employed parents by giving them access to experienced counselors, such as financial counselors and benefits counselors. Counseling support for caregivers can also be advantageous to their mental health.
5. Provide Paid Time Off
Paid time off is often granted to employees after meeting specified service requirements, such as 3 to 6 months of service. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately one-third of industry workers received between 10 and 14 days of paid vacation in 2021 after one year of service. Offering parents of neurodiverse children paid sick days, vacation and family leave can help ensure that these parents have the time off they need to sufficiently care for their families and recover.
6. Make Health and Wellness a Priority
While many parents of neurodiverse children focus solely on their children’s needs, it is important to consider the health and wellness of parents. Caring for a child with special needs can be physically, mentally and emotionally draining. Offering employees adequate health insurance and wellness perks can help improve employee health, happiness and productivity.
Discover How We Can Help You Today
Today’s organizations are in a strategic position to improve their employees’ quality of life while raising neurodivergent children. Speak with an expert at eBen to learn more about implementing caregiving benefits.