Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Planning for your child's future

As we sent our son off to school today, his first day back as a fifth grader I was thinking he would be college bound in approximately 8 years. I started a fund for my son's education back in 2001 establishing a 529 college savings plan when he was a toddler. I have contributed for the past 8 years and try to regularly. We also set up some investments but they have taken a hit with the downturn in the market. It can be frustrating to see your additional contributions for the year fully absorbed by current year market declines but we are still on a time horizon that encourages aggressive investing. As a parent of a special needs child it is so very important to consider their well being for the future because unfortunately we can not guarantee that we will be here for them throughout the years. We always try our best to save and plan for their financial protection. Having adequate life insurance is crucial as well as establishing a trust account and savings. As a homeowner you want to make sure you have enough coverage to pay the balance of the mortgage so your family is protected.

I have always considered my son's needs once I learned of his medical condition and it is something I take very seriously as we always have to be prepared. My wife and I have high expectations for our son and we want him to do his absolute best but I will never come down hard on him or make him feel pressure. I just want him to be able to handle the day to day activities that life presents. Even young kids today can get stressed out and it is very important to address this as you want your child to always feel protected and confident that things will be OK. Life does have its challenges and heartbreaks and we all have to be realistic but as a parent and knowing from experience we try our best to shield our kids from the stresses and disappointments and always encourage them to be happy and to be kids for as long as possible.

The childlike innocence is so important as it seems this generation of kids are exposed to so much more that it seems they are almost forced to mature at a quicker pace. I remember when I was 10 years old I did not experience nearly as much as my son. I never started using a computer until I was a freshman in college. My son has been learning the computer since he was 3 years old and he's been in schools with computer labs since preschool. He loves it and can spend hours with the computer which is pretty common with kids especially autistic kids. We encourage him to learn and explore but naturally are concerned with the prolonged effect of exposure to computers and TVs and other electronic devices.

As Matthew grows it is more critical to implement all the necessary legal considerations such as establishing a will that will properly designate direction in providing proper care for him. Obviously we want to be here to support our children into their adulthood which my parents had done for my sisters and I. With an autistic child it is also important to establish a supplemental needs trust that would designate appropriate funding to protect them in their future. I still have to consider all this as it is so very important.

We obviously want our son to grow and experience life and to have dreams and set goals for himself and to experience a college education that is so necessary today. The costs of a college education today is so financially demanding and requires a lot of planning and the sooner you address it the more prepared you will be. It is quite an undertaking but so very important for your child's future.

My wife works in an autistic adult home where she cares for individuals who suffer from severe degrees of autism and are unable to care for themselves. It is very sad and at times it can humble her. She is very dedicated and devoted to them and she has to care for them like you would care for a baby or a young child. She has devoted her life to helping them and I am very proud of her.

We hope we never have to consider this for our son as he is high functioning and has a lot of promise and potential and we will help to provide him all we can and see that he gets a valuable and beneficial education.

We are here for our son now and will be for his future as we look forward to him growing but love the idea of him being a kid for as long as possible as I already miss the days when he was a baby. The time a child grows seems to go so fast that we have to make it a priority to save for their future and just as importantly spend the necessary time with them and share those special moments as it is what makes life so fulfilling and truly helps your child grow and develop and the relationship of parent and child is so special.

Edward D. Iannielli III

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