Honorable Labor Secretary Perez and Prospective Employers…
Do you want to know why you must employ me, according to my terms, with a livable salary?
I invite you both to keep repeating Labor Secretary Perez’s recent words as you read my letter…
We all succeed only when we all succeed.
But my review of available data corroborates that we all have not succeeded. This is where you, my prospective employer, will play an important role guaranteeing we all succeed as Secretary Perez envisions it.
As he continues,
We can only make progress if hardworking men and women raise their voices.
I am one mom raising my voice. Not just another mom — I am the mother of a child with autism. There is no limit to the emotional, physical, and professional sacrifice it involves to raise her. I alone must address and provide for her needs and be a loving guide so she can fulfill her dreams. Yes gentlemen, America is the land of opportunity but for myself and many parents of children with autism the doors of opportunity are closed.
Do you wonder what am I talking about?
I’ll give you some examples…
- Our children have behavior crises or they often get sick, and what do we do? We need to stay home and tend to their needs. For me, this happens monthly. It may affect my job productivity 1-3 times per month.
- The school calls asking us to pick up our kids because of their behaviors. They do not understand our kids, how they behave and how they learn. For me, these calls can occur weekly.
I worked in 3 schools and witnessed the lack of accountability of special needs classrooms. I loudly raised my voice. The result: I was cast aside by the school system that needs my skills and knowledge (it did not offer me another job, even with positions to be filled). I decided to help other parents, write to the press, governor and write blogs. The result: no steady income so it’s a struggle for life existence, progress and sanity.
I have 3 unreliable part-time jobs to make ends meet. Desperate times call for desperate measures!
In case you still question what am I talking about…
I understand that you realize your employees have family realities that can take them away from their responsibilities and commitment, but here’s what you need to know about special needs parents:
We are multi-taskers, extremely patient and have learned to handle stress. We have countless skills invaluable to companies, but our work schedule can only happen on our terms. Unfortunately, we are expected to work in conditions that do not allow us to strike a work-life balance. It’s critical that we have terms that allow us to be productive, reliable workers for you and also meet the demanding needs of our family.
Secretary Perez, you have the power to create incentives for companies hiring parents whose kids have special needs. Incentives that allow for part-time work, work from home, and work at night from home. Do not penalize the parents for doing their duty to their children first. Reward the corporations that understand this premise!
To the CEO’s of the top 100 companies in the USA… Accept the working terms we can offer you. Our needs are different. We want to experience fairness yet we don’t expect privilege. Our reality is that we can’t be a part of the 40-60+ hour work week in an office setting. Please don’t let the only option be paying us minimum wage! And, please consider our academic and life experience when offering a compensation package. My family and many parents I interact with are not better off than we were 7 years ago. You have the power to change that!
Currently, I do not have the chance to get ahead. We live day-by-day and I can’t even begin to imagine a future. Just like you, I want to have the opportunity to plan for tomorrow and the next 25 years.
Hire me. It is your turn to raise your voices and confirm we all succeed.
Yadira V. Calderon
(And countless parents of individuals with special needs)
*Yadira V. Calderon has been eating, breathing, sleeping, challenging and accepting autism for the past five years. She is a dedicated warrior, director of short films and author of the soon to be published Autism: The Happy Kingdom. She holds a M.A. International Relations and Diplomacy, speaks three languages and has lived in six countries, having travelled to another twenty-seven. Her friends know she is determined, persistent, positive, creative, open-minded and realistic, she believes none of these attributes could ever have prepared her to become the mother of seven year-old Thomais. Presently, she provides 6 hrs support to an adult with special needs and works 15 hrs. in a retail store. She’s wondering how to take care of the bills these coming months. WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | YOUTUBE