Raising a child with special needs is not easy. Learning your husband has Huntington's disease is an almost crushing blow. That is the reality of our family.
My daughter has Asperger's (an autism spectrum disorder), and after a very long journey, just over a year ago my husband was diagnosed with this cruel and horrible neurological disease, which has no cure and no way to stop its progression.
Through it all, I have had support from friends and family and, above all, my coworkers and managers. I started with Accenture in 2008 as a contractor in corporate functions--the marketing team. I was about to get married, owned my first house, and life was great. Being a contractor was a perfect fit.
Fast-forward to 2012, I had moved and had a beautiful baby girl who was now 3. I was still a contractor with Accenture, which had no issue with me moving across the country because everything I did was done from home. However, I didn't have the easy baby. Those first few years were hard, nowhere near as hard as what was to come, but I had no idea.
Through it all, my manager was always very supportive, not caring when I got my work done as long as it got done. This support gave me the flexibility to attend many doctor appointments. My daughter had severe acid reflux, and although she was bright and hit most of her milestones, she was easily overstimulated, had epic meltdowns, and showed signs of obsessive-compulsive disorder-like behavior and extreme anxiety.
At 3 ½ years of age, she was diagnosed with Asperger's. Life became about therapy and school readiness because, in her current state, school would not have been possible. Again, through it all, I had an extremely supportive team of colleagues and a manager who always encouraged me to put "family first." The flexibility my employer showed me during this time made me even more loyal to them despite being "just a contractor."
After six years with one team, I moved roles, still within the corporate marketing team as a contractor, but life had settled some, and I was ready to accept a new work challenge. I was very fortunate within a year of my new role to be approached about converting from a contractor to a full-time employee. Little did I know this change was going to become the best thing that could have happened to me.
During this time, my husband had been undergoing some tests and seeing different doctors to try to understand some changes he had been having, both cognitively and with depression. I had not shared this development with anyone at work as we didn't know anything. Our journey to diagnosis was long as his mother had been adopted and had passed away of cancer, so little family history was known.
We finally got to the point where tests were numerous and the options were becoming scarier and scarier. It was at this point that I shared the news with my manager, who was just as supportive as my previous manager. She knew at that point that completing my conversion to a full-time employee as fast as HR processes would allow would be the best thing to support me.
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