I'm a blessed man. At age 40 (almost) I only have to work 30 hours per week. And I work for a small local non-profit that helps families of people with disabilities. Rowell Family Empowerment is very family oriented, as you might gather from the name of the agency.
When my son was diagnosed with autism in 2002 my career path, and my life path, took a 180. Before Braden was born I went to college because I wanted to make more money and raise our standard of living. I graduated with a Bachelor's in Management Information Systems from California State University, Sacramento (CSUS). Then I went to work in the San Francisco bay area, and about 2 and a half years later our son Braden was diagnosed with autism at the Oakland Children's Hospital. After we got the diagnosis, making lots of money became much less of a priority. Keeping our family together and striving to raise our son became much more important. And God is a big part of our family.
Working for a non-profit that's devoted to families of children with disabilities is an honor. It's not about making money. Trust me, I could make much more money if I was employed in the private sector. I work for this non-profit because my family is affected by autism, and the work of this agency is what God put on my heart. Money is barely a factor anymore.
Day in and day out I get to see, hear, and touch children of varying disabilities. I get to listen to their parents and share with them. I'm immersed in this wonderful community of parents and people with disabilities.
Almost all my co-workers have a child with a disability. Some with autism, some with other disabilities. Oh, and I'm the only male that works here. Go figure! That means I'm around an office full of women 30 hours a week! And this work environment is unlike any other I've ever been a part of. I love the ladies I work with.
30 hours a week, that's all I have to work. You jealous? Think I should be working 40 like everyone else? I understand your feelings. Like I said, I'm blessed. Autism changes a family, not just an individual. And our family requires more time together.
I am able to turn most of my speaking engagements into family vacations. Due to the money I make through speaking, and selling ads on Autism Epicenter, I get to take more time off work. That's valuable time with my family.
Lately, all of my speaking engagements are centered around the iPad and apps that help children with disabilities. iPads have emerged as impactful tools in teaching kids with autism when used correctly. And since I work for Rowell Family Empowerment, have a kid with autism, have this website, a technology background, and review many apps for autism, I find myself doing trainings pretty often. And, since most of those trainings require travel, my family is always in tow.
I recently spoke at the Family Resource and Supports Institute for the Department of Developmental Services. This was the second time in as many years. I spoke for an hour and a half, but we vacationed in Southern California for over a week.
I can't tell you how much our son LOVES the beach. He's such a happy kid when he's on the beach. Seeing him playing in the sand, laying in the sand, and digging in the sand brought tears to my eyes, and Mom's too.
Braden can be a lot to handle, and whenever I'm not around Mom has to contain him on her own. So I try to be with my family every minute I can.
Right now school takes up a significant amount of Braden's day. But when he gets out of school things will change. Since he'll have a lot less to do with himself, our family dynamics will have to change. I'll need to be with my family a LOT more. Keeping the family together will be even more important at that time.
I don't know what the future holds for us, but God knows. He's always in control. We put our faith and our trust in Him, and we don't worry about the future. At age 40 I only have to work 30 hours per week. But when Braden gets out of school I'll only be able to work 10 or so, if that. If you don't have a child with autism you may be wondering why I will only be able to work 10 hours a week. It's hard to explain, but in a nutshell, it's because Braden will likely require lots of supervision and things to do. As his Dad, I will be there... and so will God.
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