Supporting Parents of Children with Special Needs

Chances are good that you know a child with exceptional or special needs, or an impacted parent of one. How do I know this? Well, the recent diagnosis rates released from the USCDC are startling. In some states with a highly educated and education-focused population, the rates are even higher: 1 in 45 on the autism spectrum. Organizations with professional workforce populations i.e., highly educated, professional employees with similar aspirations for their children see the same high rates of special needs as well. When you consider other, even more common types of diagnoses like ADHD, about 1 in 5 children has some type of special needs.

A Hidden Emotional Cost for Employees

If you work with such a parentor one works for youyou probably don't know it, though you may notice that they often are scrambling to get out of work to make an appointment or to take their child to one. Impacted parents often aren't sharing their challenges at the coffee maker or in the hallways. They're exhausted, distracted, sometimes ashamed, and often dealing with the conflicting emotions that come from realizing that the child you have is not anything like the one you imagined you'd get. The last thing they want to do is share these highly personal, often time consuming, and always complicated situations with their colleagues or managers. If their employer really knew how distracted they were, they could be facing an even greater challenge. We know that "homing from work" is a real phenomenon (see the 45% in this infographic who are scheduling and attending medical appointments); for special needs impacted families, the demand to do so is even greater.

An Opportunity for Employers to Help

What some savvy employers are starting to realize - and address - is that by meeting the needs of this large but hidden population in their ranks, they can:

  • Regain hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost productivity
  • Move spending from their company-funded health plan into school districts by more effectively tapping into federally mandated treatments
  • Earn lasting loyalty from a population of people used to hearing "no" much more frequently than "yes" when they ask, "Can you help me?"
One of our client partners with 4,300 employees recently introduced the Special and Exceptional Needs Program for exactly these reasons. They know that, even  if only 11 employees use the platform to access better, services through their school districts, the resulting health care plan savings will make the program cost neutral. In addition, they expect to recoup a minimum of $82,692 worth of productivity gains. With this solution, we conservatively expect the client to regain at least one of the five lost hours of productivity per impacted employee per week.

The ROI is powerful. The children receive more comprehensive, better managed, and more convenient (often on-site) therapies and services. With better information, a greater sense of control, fewer appointments to schedule, and less information to communicate between multiple providers, the employee experiences a serious reduction in stress. The employer gains the loyalty of a less anxious, more engaged employee who is tapping into his or her health care plan less frequently. If ever there was a win-win-win solution, this is it.

What are Employees Saying?

When we launched the Special and Exceptional Needs Program powered by myEdGPS here at Bright Horizons, we received positive feedback within hours:

This is so amazing! I come from a family where my younger brother (8 years old) has special needs, and it has been such a struggle to get the needed support for him in education and augmented needs. Thank you for creating this and supporting families and children with unique needs. This is very much so appreciated.

As I struggle with a new school placement for my special needs daughter, the timing for this new benefit couldn't be more perfect! I'm looking forward to the resources that will help me make this transition smooth and hopefully get better results with our new school. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

What a fantastic resource. As a mother of a special needs child and working fulltime, it is so helpful to have resources available and advocates. Thank you so much! Can't wait for the webinar.

As a mother of a child with special needs and a full time center director, I have my hands full. It has been a struggle and learning experience ever since my son received his ASD diagnosis and continues to be with the school system as he entered Kindergarten this year. Thank you so much for giving me a resource that I can turn to for advice and information to make things a little easier.

In the small circle of employees with whom I work daily, I already know of three who are using this program and realizing the impact of its help. As a result, they feel more in control of their lives and more focused on work, just as we'd hoped.  

Click here to learn more about Special and Exceptional Needs, powered by myEdGPS, and how your organization can offer the program to your employees.    

Written by: Bright Horizons Blog Editor

About the Author

Bright Horizons logo on yellow background

The Bright Horizons Blog Editor frequently posts on the real solutions that meaningfully support employees, advance careers, and drive the world’s leading brands. The Editor curates the latest news, trends, and challenges facing HR pros because your time is scarce. Follow the Bright Horizons Blog to receive this insight in your inbox.