Having a child with autism can be immensely challenging. One mother who wants to reach out to other parents who are struggling to cope is Janet.
“He seemed fine in the first term, and considering he struggles with change and social situations, we felt he coped really well. But after the Christmas holidays he completely switched off.”
Janet’s teenage son, Robert, showed signs of being on the autistic spectrum at a young age. For many years he has refused help from anyone except his mum. He will only eat food if it’s prepared by Janet and refuses to shower, despite Janet’s constant encouragement. Given the severity of his condition, Janet was worried about the transition from mainstream primary school to secondary school.
At the start of the new year, Janet spent most mornings trying to persuade Robert to give school a go. When she did succeed, he would manage up to one hour of attendance before returning home. After an ongoing battle with his parents, Robert is now completely housebound.
“I spent most mornings trying to get him to go to school until I eventually gave up and arrived at work feeling exhausted, wondering how I was going to catch up on my hours. That’s when my colleague told me about the Charity.”
Janet made an online application with her manager and received a Carer’s Passport. This is a document we can provide carers and their line managers which highlights how the individual's responsibilities impact their work. It also includes any agreed flexible working hours. Janet no longer had to explain her personal situation in intricate detail within every new professional relationship.
“Without the Charity I wouldn’t have kept my job. It’s helped both me and my line manager and it’s been an absolute godsend. I do like getting into the office to be honest, but I now have the flexibility to look after my son.”
Although Robert is still facing immense challenges, he has the full support of his mum who has the full support of the Charity. Janet wants to help other families who are struggling to cope with similar issues. When we recently got back in touch, she told us how she doesn’t want other parents to feel as alone as she did.
“It’s quite easy to think that you are a failure as a parent, when everyone around you appears to be getting it right. There’s no right way or wrong way in doing things, you’ve just got to go with your instincts. It’s important to stay strong and look after yourself.”
Although we no longer offer the Carer's Passport, we can still help you complete your Civil Service Carer's Passport. By using our Carer's Passport and Carer's Statement Digital Tool, you'll be able to reflect on your caring responsibilities before you have a conversation with your manager and complete your Civil Service Workplace Carer's Passport. The tool also provides holistic information, support and services for outside the workplace including our Carer's Statement.
Janet's letter of thanks
My teenage son has autism. Robert doesn’t eat much; he doesn’t want to shower, he now doesn’t go to school, nor does he ever leave the house. He refuses anyone’s help but mine. And without you, I wouldn’t have kept my job.
During the whole of 2018 it was a daily fight trying to get him into school. For the first term he had gone in fine, but following the Christmas holidays he completely switched off and refused to go to school. I spent most mornings trying to persuade him to go until I would eventually give up and arrive at work feeling exhausted and wondering how I was going to catch up on my hours.
That’s when my colleague told me about the Charity and how they might be able to help. I filled in an application form with my line manager and then received the Carer’s Passport. It’s helped us both and it’s been an absolute godsend. I do like getting into the office to be honest. But I now have the flexibility to look after my son.
To any parents in a similar situation to me – please talk to someone and get help where you can. Don’t be too hard on yourself and don’t blame yourself; it’s not your fault. It’s quite easy to think that you are a failure as a parent, when everyone around you appears to be getting it right. There’s no right way or wrong way in doing things, you’ve just got to go with your instincts. It’s important to stay strong and to look after yourself.
Best Wishes, Janet