It’s no secret that work flexibility is an invaluable tool in attaining work-life balance. And it goes without saying that of all segments of the workforce, working parents especially need flexible work options. But what about parents of children with special needs?

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2013-2014, approximately 6.5 million children ages 3-21 were receiving special education services. And the CDC reports that 1 in 68 children has an autism spectrum disorder. For those working moms and dads who are caring for children with special needs, work flex is even more critical. Here’s why.

It allows parents to keep up with appointments.

Pediatrician well-visits. Orthodontist appointments. Soccer practice. When you have kids, your schedule is never your own. Add to that the myriad of other appointments you’ll need to make when you have a child with special needs—or the increased amount of time a typical appointment can take—and your schedule (and stress level) just quadrupled. Having a flexible job means that you can tackle your child’s medical needs more easily without having to sacrifice the requirements for your job.

It grants parents quality time with their children.

Parents today are busier than ever. It’s hard to find time to get even the basic day’s needs—like doing dishes and laundry—done. But when you have a child who requires even more specialized appointments and activities, it can decrease the amount of quality time you can spend with your kiddos. Being able to adjust your work schedule or location allows you not only to accommodate the must-do’s of the day, but also to spend quality time with your kids, even if that’s simply sitting on the couch nearby or going out for an ice cream cone.

It allows parents the room to juggle without punishment.

When you work in a traditional environment, your lunchtime is the only space you have to cram in all that you have to do. And if you show up late from lunch, you’ll have to hear it from your boss. But when you have schedule flexibility, you don’t have that issue anymore. You can keep up with your work commitments while still taking care of your special needs child, without having to sacrifice one for the other.

It gives parents some much-needed down time.

Parenting can be taxing, whether you have one child or five. With a flexible work schedule, meshing your work life with your personal life (and parenting life) is a possibility. And beyond that, it can give exhausted parents some much-needed down time which can aid in recuperating to make it through another day.

Flexible work options are critical for any parent, and that’s especially true for parents of children with special needs. With more companies offering flexible work options, parents will be better able to balance work needs with being the stellar parents they want to be.

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