5 Resources You Should Know about if You Have a Special Needs Child
Author: Alyssa Craig
As the parent of a special needs child, you may find yourself feeling overwhelmed financially, physically, and psychologically. There are so many things to learn about as well as plans to make for the future, as you need to continue supporting your child. You may not be sure exactly where to look for help, so here are some resources you should know about as a parent and caretaker of a special needs child.
Medicaid and SSI
Government help is available to help support you financially. The two avenues you should first pursue are Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.
- Medicaid: Covers long-term health care to children and adults with disabilities. By law every state must offer Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment (EPSDT) to all children, birth to 21, who are enrolled in Medicaid. The program will make sure the child has all medically necessary services covered, including vision, dental, and hearing.
- SSI: Federal program to provide a monthly supplement to income to meet the basic needs of the individual (home, food, clothes).
This is a legal professional who can help you to navigate the various programs your child’s school district should provide according to law.
As they have an understanding of all the legal responsibilities, they can also help you to understand your rights and the school district’s obligations to make appropriate accommodations for your child. They can help you to learn the legal terminology so you are better equipped for meetings with school representatives. An advocate can also help you to go over the results of test and evaluations done on your child and what this means as far as services they are or are not qualified to receive from the school.
Additionally, your advocate can help you to set goals as a parent for what you would like to see done for your child and improvements that can be made in their education. As an outside third party, having an advocate will help you to minimize the number of roles you are juggling as a parent and allow you to receive help from someone who has no emotional connection to the situation.
Special Needs Trust
You may be worried about how you are going to support your child beyond their basic needs. As Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income are needs based, if you or your child receive a gift or an inheritance from a family member, this monetary increase may be enough to disqualify you from those government assistance programs. To avoid this, consider setting up a special needs trust, as recommended here. This will help to ensure these type of monetary increases do not count against you for these types of programs.
Additionally, these trusts can be protected by a trustee to help take some of the pressure off of yourself. By setting up a special needs trust, you can help to provide your special needs child with more beyond their basic needs now and in the future.
Home Health Care
Some insurance companies will help cover costs of having a health care professional visit your home a few hours per week for your child’s chronic or severe medical needs. You may also be able to receive respite services for children with developmental disorders, including autism. These are short-term accommodations in a facility outside the house. They offer temporary relief for family members and other unpaid caregivers.
Home health care ensures your child receives the care they need and you get a break for a few hours per week. They can also help to spot any changes in behavior, administer medication, and monitor medication schedules. Home health care professionals can also assist with any therapies the child needs to complete.
Parental Support Groups
While there are many resources for your child, you will need help along this journey also. Through putting yourself at the mercy of your child’s needs, you will find yourself needing an outlet as well. Consider looking into a parental support group. There are different types of parental support groups for parents of special needs children including those through your child’s school, local non-profit organizations, children’s hospitals, online support groups, and parent advisory councils.
Support groups give you a place to connect and socialize with other adults when you are used to only seeing to your child’s needs. It is a place to relieve your isolation and frustrations that accompany this situation with others who truly understand. Keep in mind each group has their own unique goals and dynamic. Find the one that works best for you and best meets your needs.
As any parent would, you want to be able to provide the best life you can for your child. These resources will help ensure you are able to provide for your child’s basic needs, health care needs and beyond. As you take care of your own needs, you will also provide your child with a parent who is emotionally able to be there for them as well.
For more info on special needs children, check out these books: