Best of Both Worlds podcast: Work, life, and parenting a child with complex needs with Alyce Thompson

Parenting is always challenging, but special needs parenting adds another layer of complexity to the job of managing work and life. In this week’s episode of Best of Both Worlds, Sarah interviews Alyce Thompson, one half of a two-lawyer couple, about how she makes it work.

Alyce talks about how she and her spouse share childcare duties, and how they stay emotionally connected while raising a daughter with Dravet Syndrome, a genetic form of epilepsy. Sarah and I have long appreciated Alyce’s thoughtful comments on The SHU box blog and here so we were thrilled she was willing to be interviewed!

In the Q&A section we discuss ideas for a scientist who’s been granted $2000 in personal/professional development funds. What would you spend the money on?

7 thoughts on “Best of Both Worlds podcast: Work, life, and parenting a child with complex needs with Alyce Thompson

  1. Great episode! I took the listener question in a totally different direction – my first inclination was how the money could be spent on professional development for this person’s employees. That’s probably colored by my own experience – I work in an academic research lab under a PI. Our PI is a great boss and very professional, in my opinion, but the graduate students and new lab techs (usually recent college grads) are SORELY lacking in the professionalism department. I don’t know if a ‘how to be a grownup’ course exists, but I would spend money on finding and paying for (most of) them to attend!

    I’m hoping this isn’t an issue for the listener who posed the question (or even if it is, maybe the money would still be better spent on her own professional development!) but in many conversations with peers in different industries, we are all finding this to be a problem with new students or graduates who are coming right out of undergrad. Numerous conversations about things like how to dress professionally (and in the lab, there’s a safety dress code), how to let your supervisor and colleagues know if you’re going to be out sick, how to navigate a professional meeting, etc…these are all things that are now needing a lot more handholding, it seems.
    (and this was already noticeable pre-pandemic, so can’t blame COVID for everything though I’m sure it complicated things!)

    I’d actually love to hear from the person who posed the question if she also sees this in her young employees!

      1. Oh wow! And it’s cheap – all of our grad students could take it for a few hundred dollars! I might actually try to think about how I can recommend this to some people without being too obvious about it…

  2. As a parent of a child with special needs (though fortunately not as medically fragile), I really appreciated Alyce’s interview. So many of the things she talked about – feeling isolated, having complex feelings about a child and parenthood, anxiety about the future, getting “kicked out” of a childcare situation – really resonated with me. We once got a very nice “just give up” from a therapist, which is kind of funny now but definitely wasn’t back then. I appreciate how thoughtful and graceful she is in a really tough situation. Wishing good things for their family.

  3. I really enjoyed this episode, too. I am glad they have family support to give them breaks, and can strategically use babysitters to give them a break when they are at home.

    I think if I had $2k to spend on professional development, I would probably take a course on public speaking or presentation skills or something like that. It sounds like they will be offering courses for my group soon since our asset class is part of a huge sales campaign so we will be presenting more (hopefully!). I was in toast masters in college and participated in speech in HS but I can always improve in that area!

  4. I am also the parent of a child with dravet syndrome and I loved hearing about Alyce’s experiences and can relate so well. I have a very similar perspective and listening to this podcast got me so pumped, I finally felt like someone gets it and gets it in a very similar way, I felt like I was speaking to myself several times and it was refreshing to hear of someone doing similar strategies.

    Thanks for sharing your story and best of luck with your little girl! Hope I can connect with you sometime in the future.

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