3 Ways Autism Parents Can Balance Work and Family

The struggle for work-life balance is not a new issue. More moms than ever are in the workforce and faced with the task of juggling a full-time job, while still having the time and energy to be there for their children. Now, parents with Autistic children are many times faced with even more demands, such as attending additional therapy appointments, behavioural issues to attend to at school, and their children not sleeping through the night. This can have a large effect on their work productivity and growth, and cause even greater issues for them in the future. So how do we balance trying to have a job? An occupation? And still be an autism mom?

Dr. Ali Griffith is no stranger to the overwhelming demands this can have on working parents. Being a mother of Zachary, who is on the spectrum, she faced many of the same issues in the workplace. “I remembered when Zachary was first diagnosed and I didn’t tell many people at my workplace that he was on the Spectrum….They may have seen [some of the signs] but I wasn’t telling anyone. I wasn’t walking towards anyone staying ‘Hey guys, Zachary’s now diagnosed. This is what’s going on in my household.’ I walked around a lot with a smile on my face but I was still going through so many questions. Why? How? Then, I was dealing with a lot of issues at home. One of the main things was that he was not sleeping through the night.

“His sleep pattern was so off..I’m talking 12 hours a night. How did that affect me at work? I was tired. I was constantly tired. I feel like there wasn’t enough sleep that I could ever get and then that also made me easily irritable.. because, you know, it’s kind of goes hand in hand.. if you’re not getting enough sleep then what’s going to come next is that you’re going to be easily irritable. So that was me at work just going through the motions, but I’m sure I’m wasn’t a pleasant person to hang out with.'”


Being not just an Autism mom, but an Autism Parenting Coach as well, Dr. Ali shares three tips to help those parents who may be overwhelmed by these challenges in the workplace. Some of the signs of an Autism parent may be: calling out from work early, coming in late, excessive tiredness at work. It is her belief that if we can educate employers, then we can start finding tools, strategies and tips that can help to make our environment more conducive.

Challenge: Excessive Tiredness at work

Do you often find yourself barely able to stay awake at work? Do you feel your eyelids drooping because you stayed up so late with your child the night before? As Dr. Ali stated above, she had her own experiences with excessive tiredness at work because of her son not sleeping through the night. This caused her to be tired at work, which would then affect her productivity and her relationships in the workplace. So how do you combat this?

Solution: Take a Break

“Use your lunch time to take a break… literally take a break. This may be the only time where you can go back to your car, put your head on the table and just take a nap. Make sure you eat a quick lunch because it’s important but just take that time to catch some zzz’s. Just make sure you set your alarm to wake up because you want to make sure you get back in time.” Sleep affects how productive you are in the workplace, and catching some extra sleep when you have pockets of time may help more than you know.

Challenge: Handling a work schedule with so many interruptions and appointments

If you’re an Autism mom, it’s likely that you have to deal with additional appointments or interruptions which may affect your routine work schedule. You may think to yourself, how am I supposed to get all of this done?

Solution: Talk to your boss or supervisor.

Dr. Ali suggests, “Sit down with your supervisor or and or your co-workers and say ‘Hey this is my situation at home, this is why my schedule can sometimes be off. How can I make that [extra time] up?’ You may have to come in early on some days, and other days you may have to leave late. There even may be days that you may have to work on a weekend which isn’t planned. I’m not saying it’s the best, [most] ideal thing to do but if you want to keep that job and if that job is very important to you then you have to think of alternative ways that you can give in time.”

It may be easy for your co-workers or supervisor to immediately assume your to blame for your poor work performance or odd schedule. They may surprise you and be more understanding than you think once you explain your situation more thoroughly and get them to understand that you’re not calling out late or leaving early because you want to but in fact because you have exceptional needs. Sometimes talking about it makes this process a lot easier.

Another way Dr. Ali makes the best use of her time is what she calls, “flex time”. “One of the things I like to do is use flex time..so whenever I know Zachary is with his dad or in therapy I use that time to try and get some extra work done.”

Challenge: We come across as a less desirable employee due to pent up emotions.

As an autism parent, it’s easy to feel as if you’re alone and not want to reach out to those around you about any challenges you face. The biggest issue with this, however, is that it comes out in other ways. “You can’t keep carrying this on your shoulders because it comes out as anger. It comes out as rage. It comes out as an employee that no one wants to work with.”

Solution: Dr. Ali suggests finding two or three people that you trust the most.

“You often see us alone. We’re loners. Kind of like our kids. Why? Because we don’t have anyone that we feel comfortable speaking to. We’re not really expressing what’s really going on at home so this is is an opportunity to find at least one or two people that you can talk to. Try and figure: ‘Who do you trust the most?’ and ‘How can I tell if a little bit more about my life outside of the work environment?’. Yes, I get it. Most people feel like work and home are separate but if you’re spending about 7-8 hours in a job then somehow the cross interference happens and how can you make it easier for you? In the end of all [of this], we’re trying to find out how can we make it a little easier for you… because when you go home you have other challenges to deal with.”

Dr. “Ali” Alisha Griffith is an Autism Mom, Communication Expert (Audiologist and Speech Pathologist), Best Selling Author, IGNITE Coach and Transformational Speaker and Trainer. She provides coaching to teach individuals and caregivers how to become effective listeners, foster stronger relationships and get ignited and focused. Her best-selling book can be purchased by clicking here.

3 Steps to Navigate Autism: A Guide for Parents

Dr. “Ali” Alisha Griffith is an Autism Mom, Communication Expert (Audiologist and Speech Pathologist), Best Selling Author, IGNITE Coach and Transformational Speaker and Trainer. She provides coaching to teach individuals and caregivers how to become effective listeners, foster stronger relationships and get ignited and focused.

Dr. Ali Griffith encourages parents and caregivers of children with Autism to take the necessary steps to “navigate this process called Autism”.

Step 1: Take a few minutes every day for YOU. Take a deep breath and try these relaxing principles every day. As an Aumazing Autism Mom to an 11-year-old, Dr. Griffith knows what it’s like to have a constant day to day whirlwind in her home. “My tip to you today is to create 5-10 minutes every day where you create a relaxed mind. Some people journal, meditate, or pray.” Dr. Griffith encourages everyone to find an outlet in order to find this relaxed state.

Why is this important? “When you are at an ease and a relaxed state or mindset then your child will come to where you are.” Remaining calm and matter-of-fact while a child scream does not come easily to anyone, least of all to someone already feeling unable to cope. Yet screaming back will likely only escalate the situation, spinning a child with little ability to self-regulate further out of control.

Dr. Griffith says, “This journey has its ups and downs and scary moments, but today we’re going to speak about you working on you. Create a few minutes for YOU.”

 Strategies for Success

  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Journaling
  • Goal Setting
  • Join like-minded Groups on social media and online forums
  • Exercise

Step two: Setting your intentions. You may be asking yourself what Dr. Ali means by this. “Setting your intentions is writing down what you want to have accomplished whether it be today, this week or this year.” Dr. Griffith believes it’s important to write down what is you want to accomplish in the near future so you have a goal to aim for whether it be large or small such as booking three appointments for your child or not crying or getting impatient. Start creating and getting control back by setting these intentions on paper: create a to-do list or a chart and mark off when you achieve each goal you set for yourself. What is it you want out of your day, week or year? Write it down.

Step three: Accept your Aumazingness. Accept that this is your role, your a mom, grandma dad etc. your the person that is going to help make sense. It’s a heavy load to bear but you’re the one. Accept it. Once you begin to accept it you will start getting into motion. You won’t feel so helpless, it helps you to feel so out of control. And more into the fact that I’m going to accept whats happening here and my role in this.

Taking care of a child with Autism can be a rollercoaster, but you are not alone. Join Dr. Ali Griffith’s Facebook group to engage with other like minded moms as they go through the journey together.


Need additional help? Dr. Griffith provides coaching to help you with this process.


Autism’s most-obvious signs tend to appear between 2 and 3 years of age. In some cases, it can be diagnosed as early as 18 months. Some developmental delays associated with autism can be identified and addressed even earlier. See if your child exhibits the early signs and symptoms.


Recognizing the Early Signs and Symptoms of Autism

Dr. “Ali” Alisha Griffith is an Autism Mom, Communication Expert (Audiologist and Speech Pathologist), Best Selling Author, IGNITE Coach and Transformational Speaker and Trainer. She provides coaching to teach individuals and caregivers how to become effective listeners, foster stronger relationships and get ignited and focused. 

Autism is a spectrum of closely related disorders with a shared core of symptoms. Autism spectrum disorder appears in infancy and early childhood, causing delays in many basic areas of development, such as learning to talk, play, and interact with others. It’s not always easy to identify the early signs of Autism, and many of us as parents or caregivers sometimes don’t want to welcome the chance that it may be present in our loved ones.

The signs and symptoms of autism vary widely, as do its effects. This is not intended to tell you that your child has Autism, but is more to serve as a helping guide to help detect whether or not they exhibit the symptoms. Some of the key signs and symptoms that are consistent among most children on the spectrum are problems:

  • Issues communicating verbally and non-verbally
  • Issues relating to others and the world around them
  • Problem thinking and behaving flexibly

Step 1: Follow your intuition

Some of the first signs Dr. Griffith noticed with her own child, Zachary, was that he was constantly switching lights back and forth. He was constantly staring at the trees. He would line his trains up and look at them with the sides of his eyes. He would not let her touch him for very long. He would look away quickly when she made eye contact with him. In groups, he would not socialize much with other children when they were around. Other signs she noticed included flapping of the hands, spinning in circles or just not being able to sit still for long. She also noted that delayed language or no language at all is a big indicator.

Dr. Griffith went through the common phases of denial, not believing that her child could possibly have Autism. She would try to sway his behaviors and try to regulate what he was doing to try to disarray from all of the signs lining up together. In her own way, she knew something else was going on. Being an audiologist, speech pathologist, but more importantly a mom, she knew something else was going on.

Common restricted and repetitive behaviors

  • Hand flapping
  • Rocking back and forth
  • Spinning in a circle
  • Finger flicking
  • Head banging
  • Staring at lights
  • Moving fingers in front of the eyes
  • Snapping fingers
  • Tapping ears
  • Scratching
  • Lining up toys
  • Spinning objects
  • Wheel spinning
  • Watching moving objects
  • Flicking light switches on and off
  • Repeating words or noises

Step 2: What are you seeing? Start documenting this down and then research. 

Dr, Griffith recommends monitoring your child’s development for any developmental delays and if they are hitting the key social, emotional and cognitive milestones. While this doesn’t always point directly to Autism, these signs may indicate a higher risk. She believes the best way to monitor progress is by documenting the signs that seem irregular and then doing your research. Are they showing 4 or 5 symptoms on the list? This will raise your awareness that something more is going on. Educating yourself is the best way to acknowledge whether or not the signs and symptoms your child is exhibiting are normal or not.


Signs of Inflexibility

  • Follows a rigid routine (e.g., insists on taking a specific route to school)
  • Has difficulty adapting to any changes in schedule or environment (e.g., throws a tantrum if the furniture is rearranged or bedtime is at a different time than usual)
  • Unusual attachments to toys or strange objects such as keys, light switches, or rubber bands. Obsessively lines things up or arranges them in a certain order.
  • Preoccupation with a narrow topic of interest, often involving numbers or symbols (e.g., memorizing and reciting facts about maps, train schedules, or sports statistics)
  • Spends long periods watching moving objects such as a ceiling fan, or focusing on one specific part of an object such as the wheels of a toy car
  • Repeats the same actions or movements over and over again, such as flapping hands, rocking, or twirling (known as self-stimulatory behavior, or “stimming”). Some researchers and clinicians believe that these behaviors may soothe children with autism more than stimulate them.

Step 3: Make an appointment: 

 When it comes to assessing healthy development, it’s important to remember there’s a wide range of what is considered normal.  It’s crucial to remember that children develop at different paces, and some are a bit later than others to walk or talk. If you feel as if you’re concerned that your child isn’t meeting milestones, or is exhibiting symptoms of delayed development, the best way to ease your mind is to seek a professional opinion. Go book an appointment with a Pediatrician or a general practitioner. Dr. Ali Griffith recommends going to developmental pediatricians if they are available. “Get a second or third opinion to get some answers to get some confirmation in the direction you’re going. If you’re still not happy, go get physiological testing done. They’re the ones that can really give you a full array of tests to let you know what is happening. The key is… knowing is half the battle.” says Griffith..”