September 20, 2017

Planning for the Future & Your Special Needs Child




Planning​ ​for​ ​the​ ​future​ ​often​ ​looks​ ​different​ ​and​ ​should​ ​start​ ​early​ ​for​ ​our​ ​children​ ​with learning​ ​differences​ ​and​ ​special​ ​needs.​ ​In​ ​this​ ​series​ ​called​ ​​"Planning​ ​for​ ​the​ ​Future​ ​& Your​ ​Special​ ​Needs​ ​Child"​,​ ​I'll​ ​be​ ​covering​ ​a​ ​variety​ ​of​ ​topics​ ​that​ ​I​ ​hope​ ​you​ ​will​ ​find helpful​ ​when​ ​planning​ ​​your​ ​child’s​ ​future.  We will address​ ​foundational​ ​skills​ ​and how​ ​to​ ​access​ ​resources​ ​at​ ​an​ ​early​ ​age.​ ​


​​Through​ ​​almost​ ​ten​ ​years​ ​of​ ​working​ ​in​ ​public school​ ​special​ ​education,​ ​and ​being​ ​a​ ​mom​ ​of​ seventeen-year-old ​twin​ ​boys​ ​with​ ​Level​ ​3 Autism,​ ​I've​ ​learned​ ​that​ Activities ​of​ ​Daily Living (ADL)​ ​are​ ​vital ​in​ ​accessing​ ​the​ ​community​ ​when​ ​our​ ​children​ ​are​ ​no longer​ ​school​ ​age.​ ​ADLs​ ​are​ ​the​ ​skills​ ​our​ ​children​ ​will​ ​need​ ​to​ ​function​ ​as independently​ ​as​ ​possible,​ ​no​ ​matter​ ​what​ ​the​ ​future​ ​holds​ ​for​ ​them.
                       
When​ ​should​ ​I​ ​start​ ​planning​ ​for​ ​my​ ​child’s​ ​future?​
It's​ ​never​ ​too​ ​early​ ​to​ ​plan​ ​for​ ​the​ ​future.​ ​​ ​Our​ ​homeschool​ ​curriculum​ ​and​ ​"lifestyle​ ​of learning"​ ​should​ ​support​ ​our​ ​child's​ ​post​ ​school​ ​goals​ ​soon​ ​after​ ​diagnosis​ ​or​ ​as​ ​early as​ ​elementary​ ​age.​ ​And,​ ​because​ ​some​ ​of​ ​our​ ​children​ ​need​ ​longer​ ​to​ ​acquire​ ​even some​ ​of​ ​the​ ​most​ ​basic​ ​skills,​ ​teaching​ ​towards​ ​independence​ ​as​ ​much​ ​as​ ​possible​ ​starts​ ​at the​ ​preschool​ ​level.​ ​​ ​This​ ​ ​includes​ ​the​ ​most​ ​important​ ​and​ ​often​ ​overlooked​ ​skill​ ​of Functional​ ​Communication​.​


​The​ ​best​ ​advice​ ​I've​ ​ever​ ​heard​ ​from​ ​someone​ ​working​ ​with adults​ ​on​ ​the​ ​Spectrum​ ​is​ ​that​ ​“functional​ ​language​ ​and​ ​safely​ ​being​ ​able​ ​to​ ​use​ ​a​ ​public restroom​ ​are​ ​the​ ​two​ ​most​ ​important​ ​skills​ ​we​ ​can​ ​give​ ​a​ ​special​ ​needs​ ​child/adult. Academics​ ​are​ ​important​ ​but​ are less so ​if​ ​they​ ​don't​ ​have​ ​these​ ​two​ ​basics mastered.”  
                       
Series​ ​topics​ ​in​ ​the​ ​coming​ ​months:
  • Education​: Will​ ​my​ ​child's​ ​future​ ​include​ ​attending​ ​college,​ ​Trade/Vocational​ ​School​ ​or spending​ ​several​ ​days​ ​each​ ​week​ ​in​ ​the​ ​community​ ​at​ ​a​ ​DayHab​ ​facility?
  • Legal​​: Do​ ​I​ ​have​ ​all​ ​the​ ​necessary​ ​documents​ ​in​ ​place​ ​such​ ​as​ ​a​ ​will​ ​and​ ​Special Needs​ ​Trust?​ ​Will​ ​my​ ​child​ ​need​ ​full​ ​Guardianship​ ​or​ ​will​ ​Supported​ ​Decision​ ​Making​ ​be enough?
  • Living​ ​Arrangement​​:  Will​ ​they​ ​live​ ​independently?​ ​If​ ​so,​ ​where?​ ​Is​ ​Supported (semi-independent)​ ​Living,​ ​Group​ ​Home​ ​or​ ​Host​ ​Home​ ​Companion​ ​(Foster​ ​Care)​ ​the best​ ​option?​ ​Or​ ​will​ ​they​ ​remain​ ​at​ ​home​ ​with​ ​family?​ ​What​ ​supports​ ​will​ ​they​ ​need​ ​to access​ ​the​ ​community?
  • Job/Financial​​: ​Will​ ​my​ ​child​ ​have​ ​a​ ​job?​ ​Volunteer?​ ​Need​ ​Employment​ ​Assistance​ ​or Supported​ ​Employment?
  • Local​ ​&​ ​State​ ​Services​​:  Who​ ​is​ ​my​ ​Local​ ​Authority?​ ​What​ ​services​ ​are​ ​available​ ​to​ ​my child​ ​as​ ​a​ ​minor​ ​and​ ​what​ ​services​ ​will​ ​be​ ​available​ ​to​ ​support​ ​them​ ​as​ ​an​ ​adult?​ ​Is there​ ​a​ ​waiver​ ​list​ ​that​ ​would​ ​help​ ​support​ ​their​ ​community-based,​ ​behavioral,​ ​medical and​ ​financial​ ​needs?​ ​Should​ ​I​ ​apply​ ​for​ ​SSI​ ​and​ ​Medicaid?                       

These​ ​are​ ​just​ ​a​ ​few​ ​of​ ​the​ ​many​ ​decisions​ ​that​ ​need​ ​to​ ​be​ ​made​ ​for​ ​our​ ​children.​ ​Some at​ ​an​ ​early​ ​age, ​others​ ​once​ ​they​ ​reach​ ​high​ ​school​ ​age.​ ​I​ ​am​ ​currently​ ​in​ ​the​ ​process​ ​of making​ ​some​ ​of​ ​the​ ​more​ ​time​-​sensitive​ ​and​ ​critical​ ​adult​ ​transition​ ​decisions​ ​for​ ​my boys.​ ​I​ ​hope​ ​my​ ​experiences​ ​over​ ​the​ ​last​ ​twelve ​years​ ​will ​be​ ​helpful​ ​to​ ​you​ ​and​ ​your family​ ​when​ ​making​ ​some​ ​of​ ​these​ ​​difficult​ ​but​ ​necessary​ ​decisions.

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