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.
Nonetheless, raising a special needs child inherently means you will have to anticipate and deal with unique and diverse challenges in your life, for both you individually and your family. Below we have listed four specific components of parenting a child with a disability which you will need to understand and plan for.
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.
You must examine each aspect of your life mindfully, and then you must plan and react accordingly.
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.
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.
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.
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.