Thursday, February 19, 2009

Family burdens: In our own words


Thanks to the readers who commented on the financial and family burdens they face while raising their children with special needs. In your own words, here are some of the visible and invisible costs we bear along with the rewards of raising our children:
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"With our Aspie in particular, we never know which day the school will call to tell us he's just done something inappropriate or violent. We also have three days a week with therapists coming into the home. So my husband and I both have chosen to work part time, where, in a family of our size, we fall just inside the SSI radar with two diagnosed children. (If we only had one we wouldn't qualify.) This way, we have a chance of being much more available to deal with issues and time tables.

But because of our two we are also not 'soccer parents,' and won't be. We can't commit to giving our non-autistic son what many of his peers have--baseball, basketball, other team sports with practices and places to be and practices to meet. I think that's a cost that's hard to quantify."

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" As I was working this morning,I wondered if society as a whole understands the impact of autism on their financial burden (it was the economist in me this morning...ie. if 85% of our marriages end in divorces, then that means that a large amount of our families are on welfare and thus needing public assistance, WIC, etc...) So therefore, the pennies that society pays for services is really 'chump' change in compared to everything else. "

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" For us, having a young adult with a developmental disability means more: more laundry (he often wets the bed and is messy), more hot water (a hot bath is a favorite calming activity), more gas (a ride in the van is a favorite outing), and more child care for longer; barring a miracle, our son will never be able to be left without an adult caregiver. A huge extra expense too is dental care. Our son needs general anesthesia even to fill a cavity. Ugggh. Notice that I listed no special equipment or therapy in my list; just survival takes extra money."

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"Another expense for families is the severe lack of care options for our loved ones, especially after age 12. Many, many parents (usually the mom) want to work, are able to work, but cannot find reliable care.....at any cost.....for their child with a disability so they end up at home. I worked full time when our children were small and I have terrible memories of days gone bad when sitters would not show, etc. etc. In this area, care often runs 9 to 15 dollars an hour, again, when you can find it, so in many cases when the parent does find work, the net earnings are minuscule.

Or, worse for children, many special ed parents take jobs in schools such as staff assistant because the hours are the same [as student school hours]. These parents end up being truly burned out as work and home life start to look the same."

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Once again, my appreciation for these comments. They add a personal touch to the findings of a recent study, which I summarized in my post Financial Burdens of Raising Children with Disabilities: Policy Wonk Edition.

1 comment:

Pam said...

Hi Carol, good thing the sun is shining today to add some cheer as I read your blog. Thank you for being a voice for us all...Pam