A couple of months ago, I wrote a blog for Accenture on being a carer of a child with a disability. I have a daughter with autism spectrum disorder (Asperger syndrome). I was asked if Accenture could share my story publicly on social media, double checking with me because most carers or parents are hesitant about doing so. I said, “Yes!” I was happy to share my story. Someone has to take the first step, right?
I wondered why parents of children with disabilities were reluctant to share their stories. It might be because they didn’t like mixing their personal life and work. Maybe it was because they felt that their child’s disability reflected who they are, changing how people perceived them.
I chose to tell my story for both reasons, and more.
At Accenture, we believe in aiming to be Truly Human, where we take care of our total selves—body, mind, heart and soul—so we can be our best selves, professionally and personally. In my case, my husband also works for Accenture, which means we both bring our whole selves and family to work! While at times, I do have to drop off calls to take care of my daughters, I get to give the best of myself. I am grateful that I get to “have it all”, so to speak (except sleep – but I’m working on that).
Spending time with family and our Siberian Huskies
In addition, I want people to know that my daughter’s disability does reflect who I am. The universe gifted me with this incredible child who has some exceptional abilities, and sharing my story has not just empowered me, but also hopefully helped others.
Most of all, I wrote the article for purely selfish reasons. I want my daughter to get a job at a company like Accenture, who are actively changing their recruitment strategies, events and work spaces to ensure they support people with disabilities. I want to spread the word.
My beautiful daughters
The responses to my blog were interesting. I had people texting me, calling me, and stopping me to talk. Some wanted to share their own experiences about their children, several wanted to let me know they had read and related in another way, a handful asked me how I felt about sharing something so personal and others told me I was brave.
For all of you that read, commented, liked, called me or otherwise, thank you. I want everyone to know, showing vulnerability is not as bad as you think. I do want to talk about it. I want to talk about it on behalf of those who may not be brave enough to talk about it. I want people to know they are not alone. I want the world to know that when you let people bring their whole selves to work, you get the best of them. Mostly I’m just so proud of my beautiful, brave child, and I want the world to get a little easier for children like her.
I am Siobhán Foley and I have two amazing daughters, one with autism and one with teenage attitude. If you ever want to chat about it, I’d love to get in touch.
With my lovely daughters