Stoner & Stoner (2014) interviewed parents about the impact of transitioning from being a full time career professional to primary caregiver for a child with autism (ASD).
Although the initial diagnosis period was stressful they found “in many ways, parents noted that finally obtaining the ASD diagnosis was a relief” (Stoner & Stoner, 2014, p. 4). However, shortly after diagnosis, parents “felt a ‘sense of urgency’ that time was passing, that they did not know what to do, and that every decision they made might be the one that either facilitated their child’s progress or hindered it” (Stoner & Stoner, 2014, p. 4).
The decision to have one parent disrupt their career was not taken lightly but ultimately came down to what they thought was best for their child with ASD — they felt “there were no practical alternatives” (Stoner & Stoner, 2014, p. 5).
Career loss had both financial and emotional impacts on parents. The caregiver that left their position often reported grieving for a lost of self, isolation, and loneliness; “As their career was unexpectedly and suddenly jolted from its expected path, parental feelings of loss were exacerbated” (Stoner & Stoner, 2014, p. 9).
Stoner and Stoner (2014) ultimately recommend:
Service providers, in all fields, need to be sensitive to what a diagnosis of ASD entails. First, quite tangibly, parents experience a loss of income at times when financial concerns (both present and future) are critical and demanding. Second, the primary caregiving parents most likely have lost meaningful social interactions at a time when relationships could be a source of emotional support. Third, primary caregiving parents experienced a deep sense of isolation, loneliness, and diminished significance at a time when they were quite vulnerable. (p. 9)
Professionals should keep this parental transition in mind as it often an extra source of stress.
Stoner, J. & Stoner, C. (2014). Career Disruption: The Impact of Transitioning From a Full-Time Career Professional to the Primary Caregiver of a Child With Autism Spectrum Disorder. Focus Autism Other Dev Disabl, 1-11.