Planning for your future is difficult enough when you have a developmental or intellectual disability. Planning for your child’s future is exponentially so. But it doesn’t have to be a source of stress. If you take the time to prepare in advance, you can circumvent some of the worry that goes along with raising kids.
Chances are, you aren’t going to be able to do everything alone. There are a number of financial and legal considerations that you’ll want to tend to before the baby comes along. Your first step is to partner with an attorney or other legal representative to help you set up insurance, funds, and future care for yourself and your child should your disability progress. The American Bar Association can help you find a lawyer or get free legal advice if you qualify as low income. There are also short term loans for single mums on benefits
It is in the best interest of all parents and children to appoint a legal guardian should you and/or your partner become unable to care for your child, as is the case with death or life-altering injury. This should be a person close to the family, perhaps your (or your partner’s) sibling, parents, or closest friend.
Before you can set aside your chick’s nest egg, you’ll have to budget for the pregnancy, labor, and delivery. NerdWallet’s Elizabeth Renter notes that one of your most important tasks is estimating your medical costs, which includes health insurance premiums, copays, and deductibles. Once these costs are accounted for, you can begin saving and researching the best investments that will grow with your child. The Motley Fool is an excellent online resource that can give you a push in the right direction if you’re considering one stock or investment fund over another. The investment strategy provider also offers information on setting up a trust fund so that you can ensure your child’s financial needs are satisfied in the event of your death.
If your intellectual disability is coupled with physical impairments, you’ll need to make modifications to your home and property to help you care for your child. This may be something as simple as adding more lights throughout the home to increase visibility to more drastic measures, such as adding accessibility features to the kitchen and bath. Unfortunately, adaptability modifications are expensive. While many may be covered by your health insurance, it is likely that you will be responsible for at least some of the costs. Fortunately, there are many grants available through various private and governmental entities. Home Advisor’s list of grants for home modification is an excellent resource of more than a dozen grant providers.
Support for parents
As a parent with a disability, you may be entitled to support services that can help with some of the more difficult aspects of parenting. However, understand these are provided at a state level and eligibility varies depending on what your particular state defines as a disability, according to The Arc. A few examples of support services include:
- Crisis intervention
- Transportation services
- Mental health/substance abuse counseling
- Programs to help you understand how to communicate with healthcare providers
- Financial workshops/money management programs
- Educational services/adult academics
- Adaptive parenting classes
- In-home parenting skills classes
Remember, all parents need help at some time during their career as a child rearer. You will be no different, although the level of assistance you need may be greater. Your disability does not bar you from being an excellent parent but you should take extra measures to ensure that your child’s future is not compromised by the potential progression of your condition.
Ashley Taylor is a freelance writer, photographer, and advocate for people with disabilities. She created DisabledParents.org to provide information and resources to other parents with disabilities. When she isn’t working, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two children.