Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Planning for and Protecting Your Child or Adult Child Who Experiences Disabilities or Special Needs

I have been thinking about planning for and protecting my son, Billy Ray, even more lately because of my recent health problems while I was writing my second book. The stress of the present economic situation adds to the concern. Budget cuts are threatened in many areas. That adds another dimension to “that nagging question” (what will happen to my child when I can’t be there for him). Funding for programs that are working for him may be cut, facilities and homes may close due to economic constraints. Even a more independent adult child may have difficulty getting the things he needs in bad economic times. I find myself wondering what if this economic downturn happened after I can’t change planning.

We are not the same close knit society portrayed in programs like Little House on the Prairie and other television programs or movies. Neighbors were there for neighbors and could be counted on to care for children if something happened to their parents. Families are more mobile and lead busier lives so they are not always close. We have learned to depend on the government rather than each other. As we explore what the government will really be able to do it gets scary.

Sometimes there is great resentment on the part of some taxpayers about spending money for special education and other programs for people with disabilities even when times were not as difficult as they are presently. I believe that is because so many of our children are never really known as individuals with strengths and weaknesses like everyone. The more community awareness is improved the more accepting society is of the need for programs and other assistance.

Community awareness that actually brings change is that which helps our children to actually be known and understood to become a part of the community and have others involved in their lives and vice versa. As our children are known and understood protests about their need for programs and other adaptations are reduced. Sometimes it is the community needs who needs training as I wrote here.

It would be easy to become paralyzed with fear for our children. There is peace in knowing that you have done everything you can do to assure a happy and secure life for him or her. In my new book, Parenting an Adult with Disabilities or Special Needs and in future blog posts and video blog, we can share the journey together to protect our children or adult children. There are so many things that we can do such as:

· Assuring that he or she has friends who will stay involved.
· If appropriate, training her to be a self advocate.
· Having various people involved in her life who will maintain different roles.
· Maintaining her “story” so that she can share her memories and history with new people and old friends.
· Appropriate estate planning documents.

That is only a few ideas but it sounds like it will take a lot of energy. Worrying about your child’s future takes a lot of energy too but the peace that comes from planning for and protecting your child is revitalizing and reassuring.

Until next time,
Peggy Lou Morgan
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