How to Prepare for the Joys and Challenges of Raising a Child with Special Needs by Danny Knight
Preparing Your Home
One of the first things to do when you find out that you’re having a child with disabilities is to prepare your home to make it safe and accessible. If preparing for a physical disability, you’ll need to make some modifications, such as interior and exterior ramps, wider doorways, accessible cabinets, etc. If you have thick carpeting or rugs, consider replacing your floor with hardwoods to reduce the risk of falling and injury. It’s important to modify the bathroom so that your child can safely take baths and perform their daily hygiene routines. If you’re concerned about the costs of making such modifications, there are several grants available to help.
Common Insurance Questions
Health insurance is a common concern for parents when they find out their child will require additional needs. While providing top-quality care is a concern, access to resources will provide your child with a good quality of life. Children with special needs can qualify for disability benefits through Medicaid and Social Security, which can provide medical coverage, access to specialists, adaptive equipment, and therapy. If you will be utilizing your private insurance carrier, it’s important for you to familiarize yourself with your insurance policy and to not be afraid to challenge your insurance provider on their decisions to provide coverage. Additionally, you can reduce out-of-pocket expenses by utilizing in-network providers and spending time researching medical professions on your insurance provider’s online databases.
Planning for Additional Expenses
Children with special needs will enrich your life in many ways, but it’s a reality that will also come with additional expenses. Depending on the disability, such expenses can vary. It’s important to plan for things like out-of-pocket care, qualified caregivers, special diets, or adaptive toys. Parents should take the time to financially plan for their special needs child the same way they would plan for college tuition and retirement. It’s beneficial to meet with a financial planner and an estate planning attorney to work jointly in formulating a plan to invest, grow assets, and potentially set up a special needs trust (supplemental needs trust) in order to protect assets from counting against your child in their governmental assistance determination.
Taking Care of Yourself
Caring for a child with disabilities is physically and emotionally challenging for the caregiver. You can provide your child with better care if you ensure that you are also well taken care of, and one way to do that is to surround yourself with support. You’re not alone in caring for your child. Aside from your family and friends, there are counselors, support groups, and community service organizations that can provide a helping hand. You should also take some time to nurture yourself by finding time to work out, take breaks, find hobbies, and occasionally do something you love that rejuvenates you.
If you’ve recently discovered that you’re having a child with special needs, know that parenting brings great joy and benefits, even when it’s difficult. If you do your research and prepare for adjustments, you’ll put yourself in a position to give your child everything they need. Remember to make any necessary preparations and modifications to your home, get ready for insurance questions and negotiations, plan for additional expenses, and take care of yourself.
Jessica Valentine is a Chartered Counselling Psychologist who supports people within the local community and worldwide online. She offers online Skype therapy and face-to-face counselling in East Sussex, Brighton-Hove.
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