Sunday, January 24, 2010

Life Lessons: The financial challenges of raising an autistic child

It is without question that raising a child today is a major undertaking and we look upon it as something we feel privileged to do and we welcome it with open arms. The reality though is we have to make sure we are prepared for raising a child because it requires our complete attention and devotion. We also need to be aware of the financial implications in raising a child from the most joyous day of their birth through the time of their college graduation. It is something we know we need to be aware of but most of us live in the moment and confront these matters when we encounter them. We do have to plan and try and save for our children's future because the costs are only increasing and medical costs alone are skyrocketing as well as the cost of education.

When you bring a child into the world you expect everything to be perfect but obviously this is sometimes just a dream as we are confronted with the reality that not everything is perfect. We never get discouraged though because we feel the love for our child and we realize our love is strong and gets stronger each and every day. When we learn that our child is considered special needs we are confronted with many feelings and are uncertain about what we need to do. We therefore need to reach out and speak with doctors, therapists and professionals who know best. It is very important to know there are answers to our questions and there are choices for us to make. One of the most important things we will need to consider for our special needs child is the early intervention program and the necessary therapies they need to help them. For autistic children speech therapy is very important as well as occupational therapy and direct one on one interaction. Music and playtime is fundamental in a young autistic child's development.

As the years go by and your little baby becomes a toddler and now a student in school you will need to make sure your autistic child is provided with the proper support and understanding as they progress during their schooling years. You will always need to be proactive and seek the proper therapies and teaching surroundings. A major area of development an autistic child needs continued concentration with is in socialization and behavioral development. It is sometimes frustrating as working parents that we can not always provide our son with everything he needs. As a young kid growing up it is very important that he has friends visit so he can have positive interaction and a basis for building a friendship. The reality is we are not home to provide the proper supervision for play dates because of our need in making a living. It seems so much more difficult for young children to have play dates with two working parents. We can not leave that responsibility to grandma as she has her hands full in watching our son and we can not ask her to be responsible for watching other children.

As our son's needs become more pronounced the financial costs also become more pronounced as well and we have been inundated with medical bills throughout the years given our son's condition of autism and epilepsy. It can be a very serious issue and we are always working with the doctors and medical facilities to work out a payment arrangement but we feel that the insurance companies should be more helpful and not pass these burdens unto us as we have so many other financial concerns and it seems very unfair and very stressful. We try to provide our son with the best we can but when insurance does not always cover his medical needs and therapies we are forced to scale back on some of his therapies and we feel very guilty but unfortunately we don't have the financial resources to pay for everything. We need to send our son to a special camp every summer so he can have a fun summer and positive interaction with other autistic children and we have been providing this to him out of pocket for the last 6 years since he was 5 years old and it costs between 5-6 k per summer which is one of the things I proudly do for him and wish I could do more for him.

I know when you bring a child into the world you are completely responsible for them and I welcome my responsibility as a concerned and loving parent. My biggest concern though in raising an autistic child is the financial costs involved in providing him with all of his medical needs. The fact that we are largely responsible for covering our son's medical needs and the large insurance companies that have deep pockets don't want to cover most of these kids needs seems very unfair and irresponsible. There are many middle class families who are struggling today with autistic or other special needs children to raise and it seem very unfair that the burdens rest mainly with us in providing the proper care for our children.

I make the promise to my son that I will do all I can to help him and give him the proper education he deserves and will make sure he gets all his essential medical and therapeutic needs because my son means everything to me and I will do whatever it takes to help him. My wife and I love our son with all our heart.

Edward D. Iannielli III

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Please feel free to read my writings and leave a kind message or suggestion. Thank you. Emily