7 Ways To Balance Work And Raising A Child With Autism From A Mom Who Did It

It’s common for moms of young kids with autism to share their stories. But those babies grow up into teens and adults living with autism, and parents experience new struggles. Educator Christine Weiss knows this firsthand. Her son, Marston, is 27 years old, and she recently shared her journey — documented in her memoir, Educating Marston: A Mother and Son’s Journey Through Autism — with LittleThings.

“At the time of Marston’s diagnosis, the rate of autism was approximately 1/1000, and in the 1950s/60s it was approximately 1/10,000, so there was not the information there is today,” she explains. “No Google. No internet.

The incident of autism today is 1/44 or 1/27 boys. This is a devastating statistic.”

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That’s exactly how Weiss and her husband, Eric Weiss, felt when they initially reacted to Marston’s diagnosis. “We were devastated, confused, and quite frankly overwhelmed,” she admits. “We discovered Marston had a diagnosis of autism when we made an appointment with a pediatric neurologist for an evaluation.

Marston at the time was missing many important milestones, and we could not understand the problem.”

She elaborates, “Everyone experiences happiness and sorrow, anger, joy, fear, surprise, loneliness. Kids on the spectrum feel just as deeply, but they often sound different, have more issues with confidence, and they don’t know what comes after ‘hi,’ making their ability to focus and succeed in social situations hard. With Marston, I’d start every morning believing today was the day he was going to look into my eyes and want me.

He’d reach for me, and smile for the first time. Walk. He’d say, ‘Mama,’ ‘Daddy,’ or even ‘ball.’”

But that didn’t happen. “By 1998, when he turned 3, I’d uttered that same old prayer a thousand times, and I was more determined than ever to shatter the glass wall that separated my son from the rest of the world,” says Weiss. Now that she’s successfully navigated raising a child with autism, Weiss shares tips for other moms who are seeking to balance work and life at home while doing the same:

  1. Find good help and stick to a routine: “I know I like a routine, but Marston thrives on one. There is such comfort and balance in a daily pattern for your life as a human being.”
  2. Get good child care and find your people: “I went to a local college to the education department, specifically those students interested in special education. I spoke to the department head and inquired about their best students.

    I offered them a job.”

  3. Be flexible and let your work know your situation: “Be honest. Most people are compassionate and will help to accommodate. This is the type of environment you want to work in.”
  4. Be patient with yourself and your child: “Conflicts will arise; if you have the first two covered, you will be OK. Your child needs more help than most, and sometimes only mom will do. Be patient. As I always say, ‘The sun will come up in the morning.’”
  5. Get organized and learn to delegate: “I find the more organized I am, the less the unknown creeps in to destroy the day. I am a perfectionist, and only I can do it correctly. Not true: learn to delegate.”
  6. Try not to take work home: “I know there are exceptions to every rule; understandably it’s not an absolute. Your time alone with your child is important, and they need your attention and love.”
  7. Look after yourself: “Take some alone time. I would get in my bathtub, light a candle, and soak — a time to gather my thoughts and relax. It is so important to regroup and quiet your mind for a new day.”