Having a child always requires a great deal of preparation, but having a child with mental or physical disabilities means an extra layer of preparedness. From preparing your home to getting insurance, there will be plenty of factors to consider. Also, be sure to take care of your mental and physical well-being as you get ready for this big change in your life.
Preparing your home
Getting your home ready for a baby is a complex process. Many expectant parents will have a nursery set up with a few basics such as a crib, changing table, and a comfortable chair for nursing. If you’re expecting a special-needs baby, they may not need anything different while they’re still newborn. However, as your baby grows, you may need to make modifications to your home to make it more accessible and safe for them. With that in mind, consider setting up a budget to prepare for renovations so you can be ready to make changes when your child gets older.
If your home isn’t appropriate for modifications, moving to an accessible home might be the best option. It’s good to get the process started early by searching for types of accessible houses on the market. Get familiar with what’s out there and shore up your finances before you dive in. For instance, Redfin reflects that homes in the Arlington area sold for an average price of $249K last month.
Insurance and benefits questions
Parents who have children with special needs or disabilities may qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). This disability benefit has no minimum age requirement and can be extended through age 18. Most states allow for children who are eligible for SSI to also qualify for Medicaid to cover medical bills.
There are factors that play into whether your family will qualify for SSI; income is one major determining factor. If you don’t qualify for SSI, you may still be eligible for Medicaid, so it’s worth applying.
Mint explains that the costs of raising a child with disabilities could more than quadruple what it costs to raise a child without special needs, so financial planning is mandatory for families. Medical bills, ongoing therapy, and home modifications will be costly. Do as much early planning as possible to account for additional expenses, and start a savings plan that will help you prepare.
Along with the above expenses, some of the hidden costs of parenting a disabled child include having to buy special equipment or special clothing to suit your child’s needs. Wheelchairs, walkers, and other mobility devices aren’t cheap, so be sure to plan for those when your child grows.
Another expense is childcare: you likely won’t be able to rely on teenagers down the street to watch your child when you want to go on a date with your partner. You’ll likely need an adult with qualifications, or someone who specializes in the special needs of your child. Keep this in mind as you make a budget—once you plan for it, it won’t be as difficult to afford the extra costs.
Any parent will tell you that raising a child is tough, but there are more challenges when your child also has special needs. It’s important to take care of your mental and physical wellbeing as you care for your child. Reach out to family and friends for emotional support, and be sure to eat well and exercise to maintain your physical health. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or need additional help, reach out to organizations such as HRA Texas who can help with a variety of disability services.
If you’re expecting a child with special needs, remember that you’re not alone; reach out to support groups to find other parents who you can connect with. Be sure to start home preparations and savings early so you can address house modifications when the time comes. Look into SSI and Medicaid to help cover costs, and remember to take care of yourself as you get comfortable in your role as parent and caretaker of your special needs child.
Guest Post By: Jenna Sherman at Parent-leaders.com