Be Your Own CEO
Is Running Your Own Business the Way to Balance Work and Parenting a Special Needs Child?
Have you ever wondered if it would be easier to take care of your Special Needs child if you were your own boss? No more requesting time off for appointments or calling in sick when your child is really the one who’s sick. No longer worrying that the school is going to call. No more running late because your child had a difficult morning or forcing yourself to work after a sleepless night. None of this matters if you’re the boss! You could set your own schedule around your child’s needs. Running your own business could finally give you the flexibility needed to balance the needs of your Special Needs child, your family, and yourself. Is being your own boss really easier and less complicated than answering to an employer? Three mothers who have successfully made the transition from a traditional workplace to working independently from home share their stories.
“If I could not work from my home I don’t know how I could support my family like I do.”
Maria Dellapina, of Ohio, the founder and president of Specs-4-Us , began her company three years ago after she was fired for missing work because of the recurrent medical needs of her daughter, Erin (now 10, Down Syndrome). Maria was divorced and already struggling to financially support her family while keeping up with the needs of Erin, Mollie (now 12, Typically Developing), and their two older siblings who no longer live at home. The moment of truth came when Maria begin job hunting. She added “twice I pulled up and parked for my interview and the school called me to pick up Erin because she was ill… I think Erin was trying to tell me something.” A friend convinced Maria that the only way to be there for Erin (while financially supporting her family) was to work from home. Maria began pursuing an earlier dream that combined her 25 years as an Optician and Frames Buyer with Erin’s ongoing need for eyeglass frames that fit the facial features common to Down Syndrome.
Financial independence did not come quickly, or easily, for Maria and her family. But, Maria persevered with the support of friends who believed in her. They also understood how Erin’s needs were making it difficult for Maria to keep a job. In 2008, she launched “Specs-4-Us” out of her home; selling eyeglass frames which she invented especially for individuals whose facial features make it difficult to find properly fitting eyeglass frames. Even if this is not the way Maria would have chosen to begin her work at home career, she loves what she does and advises parents who are considering working at home with their own business to also “do something you love”.
“It’s a shame she had to wait twenty two years for this to happen.”
Despite the chronic needs of her medically fragile daughter, Jessica (22 years old, Spastic Cerebral Palsy, Quadriplegia), Melissa Davis of Tennessee didn’t start working from home until two years ago. Jessica is wheelchair bound with limited communication. Her complete physical dependence has required the assistance of paid caregivers for the past 15 ½years. Melissa felt it was important that she be present to make sure that Jessica received the care she needed and deserved from her caregivers. “I gave up on trying to work outside of the home” she said. Her therapy wasn’t getting done. She was withdrawing, and her health was decreasing quickly. Melissa was concerned that Jessica would decline even further once she aged out of the public school system and no longer had the stimulation of being in the classroom.
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