Once they start receiving services, parents have to become case managers, coordinating the work of multiple providers. Some services take place in the home, but others (especially speech and occupational therapy) require a trip to an office far away. "Appointments. Lots of appointments," says one autism parent who drives two hours from a home in Rolla to a care center in Columbia, Missouri.
Alison French is the CEO of Emerged Inc., a SaaS healthcare technology company based in San Diego. French is also a mother of three and a Marine Corps spouse who has spent her career working remotely. This has given her an inherent understanding of the importance of balancing and aligning personal and business life.
"E-commerce and digital marketing became my passion because I loved the analytics and attribution that came with this niche," French said. "My skill set was in high demand, and it allowed me to choose the jobs that fit my lifestyle (military spouse with children, and the need to move every 2-3 years). I quickly discovered that startups gave me the freedom of location that I needed, but, more importantly, I got to dive into a variety of different roles. I realized I loved managing all facets of a business, not working in a single silo. This desire to lead a business is ultimately what led me to Emerged."
Emerged began in 2020, which was also the year French's daughter received an autism diagnosis. As a fellow working parent with a neurodivergent child, we spoke about what skills as a CEO and entrepreneur helped her advocate for her child.
Only Accepting an A-Team: "I'm very open with my team that I only accept A-level performance. I'm quick to fire employees that underperform. In this case, the team is the extended circle of occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, teachers, psychologists, childcare." French recommends that you be prepared to fire quickly if you don't see your child progressing within reasonable milestones. Moving on and finding new care providers is hard, but you will see a transformation once you get the right group of people supporting your child.
Evaluating the ROI: "Evaluating the ROI for medical care is just like assessing the ROI on any business investment," advised French. "Medical care can be expensive, especially when electing to go out-of-network for the care your child needs. But it's not just the financial cost you need to consider. You also need to factor in the price of time associated with care when taking your child to recurring medical appointments. These two areas can be expensive for a family, and ensuring you're getting the ROI is critical."