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4 Diverse Life Challenges Inherent in Raising a Special Needs Child

Last updated on: February 19, 2024

Raising a special needs child is both challenging and rewarding, arduous and beautiful, and it is a labor of love in nearly every sense.

But trust the testimony of those who have firsthand experience raising a special needs child—the love and fulfillment far outweigh the difficulties and struggles, especially with the assistance of an experienced New Jersey special needs trust lawyer who can provide essential guidance and support in overcoming the challenges associated with raising a special needs child.

Planning for a child with special needs requires careful consideration of their unique circumstances and requirements. Below we have listed four specific components of parenting a child with a disability… By taking these into account, you can develop comprehensive planning that provides your child with the best possible care and support.

These four components are all inherent considerations in raising any child, disabled or not, but for special needs children you must make special considerations within these categories that are specific to your family’s unique circumstances.

Financial

The financial component of parenting and raising a special needs child is vastly important. As we have discussed in our last two blogs, Financial Planning for Special Needs Parents 101, Part 1 and Financial Planning for Special Needs Parents 101, Part 2, special needs children will incur numerous expenses that you never imagined or otherwise would have planned for. It is vital that you take the time to understand your family’s financial situation, analyze your child’s short-term and long-term needs and costs, and plan appropriately through tools like special needs trusts and government benefits to be able to afford those needs and costs. Be prepared to put in a significant amount of time and effort to ensure that the financial needs of your disabled child are provided for throughout their childhood and adulthood. An experienced estate planning attorney like Christine Matus can assist you and guide you through the process of doing just that.

NJ estate planning attorney

Emotional

The emotional component of raising a special needs child cannot be overstated. There are going to be tears and laughs and anger and joy. You may at times question your ability to handle things when they get tough, your patience will be tested to its extreme limits, and you may even need to grieve the loss of the family life that you always thought you would have. That’s not to say raising a special needs child is worse than the family life of those without a disabled child, simply different. Take care to plan for and appropriately care for both the emotional needs of your child, as well as the emotional needs of the rest of your family and, just as importantly, yourself. Take steps to build a strong network of support from friends, loved ones, and professionals. Seek out the advice and knowledge of those who have experience facing what you are facing, and don’t be afraid to utilize counseling. Parenting a special needs child has the potential to strain your mental health, and you should take proactive steps to combat this possibility.

Logistical

This, like the financial component, is a very practical consideration. There will be logistical aspects of raising a child that are unique and unexpected. You will likely need to live somewhere close to facilities that can provide your disabled child with the care they need. You may need to consider living closer to the loved ones that comprise your potential support system. You may need to purchase items that specifically cater to your child’s needs, such as a vehicle that can accommodate a wheelchair, or take steps to find an inclusive and accommodating education or healthcare environment. Once again, you will have to take a mindful look at your family’s unique circumstances to know how to properly plan for the logistics of raising a special needs child, just keep in mind that there almost always will be major logistical impacts to your life.

Career

A simple fact of raising a special needs child is that you and your family will at times be forced to make sacrifices. Having a disabled child could especially impact your career prospects. In pursuing your career you will have to consider all of the above three factors. Can you support your child throughout his or her life with the salary you earn? Can your mental health survive raising a disabled child and working at a high-stress job? Will both you and your spouse be able to work, or will someone have to be a stay-at-home parent? And will your chosen career present logistical issues, such as forcing you to travel often when your child may need you to be around more often? Be sure to analyze how your chosen career will impact your ability to provide the love and care your child deserves.

Effectively planning for these four aspects of your life when faced with the prospect of raising a special needs child will allow you to develop more productive behaviors and habits, and it would be an honor for our firm to have the opportunity to advise you and assist you. Please call The Matus Law Group today and let’s begin the process of ensuring you are ready and able to provide for your special needs child throughout his or her life

Challenges Description
Financial Raising a special needs child involves significant financial expenses. Parents must plan and use tools like special needs trusts and government benefits to ensure the child’s financial needs are met. An experienced estate planning attorney can provide guidance.
Emotional The emotional challenges of raising a special needs child can be intense. Parents may experience a wide range of emotions and need to build a strong support network to address their emotional needs as well as those of their child.
Logistical Raising a special needs child often requires logistical adjustments. Parents may need to live near specialized facilities, purchase adapted equipment, or seek inclusive education and healthcare options.
Career Raising a special needs child can impact career choices. Parents must consider factors such as financial stability, mental health, and the need for one parent to stay at home to provide care when planning their careers.

Struggles of Being a Special Needs Parent

Raising a special needs child comes with a unique set of struggles. Accessibility is a constant issue that can leave families feeling isolated and excluded from activities they love due to inadequate accommodations such as narrow or uneven footpaths, lack of ramp access, or the absence of changing places toilets.

Moreover, there is often a lack of understanding and empathy from others toward the challenges of raising a child with special needs. This may include difficulty attending social events due to sensory issues, struggles with finding adapted clothing for their child’s needs, and facing unique communication barriers that require specialized strategies.

Parenting a child with special needs requires flexibility, creativity, and patience, particularly when it comes to discipline and behavior management. Finding a community of like-minded parents can be crucial, as a community can offer valuable advice and support.

Additionally, communication can be a significant challenge for parents who have children with communication difficulties, ranging from selective mutism to complete non-verbalism. Such communication barriers can create obstacles in understanding their child’s needs and wants, making it challenging to engage in day-to-day activities.

Coping Strategies and Self-Care

Parenting is a profound journey, especially when navigating the additional complexities of caring for a child with special needs. Coping strategies and self-care are not just beneficial—they’re essential. Drawing from the wisdom of those who’ve walked this path, here are some strategies for parents to sustain their well-being.

  • Connect with Peers: You’re not alone. Seek out other parents in similar situations. Whether through local support groups, online forums, or advocacy networks, these connections can provide understanding, resources, and a sense of community.
  • Embrace Self-Care: Prioritize your health and well-being. It’s vital to find time for rest, nutritious meals, exercise, and relaxation. Remember, caring for yourself isn’t a luxury—it’s a necessity that enables you to be there for your child.
  • Financial Planning: The cost of care can be daunting. Explore state and federal benefits and seek financial advice. Being proactive with expenses and planning can alleviate some of the financial stress and provide security for your child’s future.
  • Maintain Open Communication: If you have a partner, keep the lines of communication open. Different coping styles can cause friction, but working through emotions together strengthens your relationship and your ability to care for your child.
  • Plan for the Future: It’s natural to worry about your child’s future. Early planning for financial and care arrangements can offer peace of mind. Consulting with experts can ensure that your child will be cared for, come what may.
  • Seek Support: If the weight becomes too heavy, reach out. Organizations like the American Advocacy Group are equipped to guide and support you through the challenges you face.

Remember, acknowledging your needs and taking steps to meet them isn’t just about survival—it’s about thriving for your sake and your child’s. Self-care isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s a strategy for resilience.

At Matus Law Group, our team of New Jersey special needs lawyers can help ensure that your child’s legal rights are protected and that they have access to the resources and support they need to thrive. With empathy, understanding, and inclusive accommodations, we can make a difference in their lives and help them feel seen, heard, and valued. Contact us at (732) 281-0060 to learn more about how we can help.

Christine Matus

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