A special needs child may have difficulties in learning, self-care, and communication because of a disability or a disorder. Because of this, the child requires more care, understanding, and attention. As a parent, we want to show our love and to be able to support their physical and emotional needs.
Caring for a child with special needs entails effort, time, and expenses for the parents. And so, it is essential to plan and budget for their child’s present and future needs.
In this blog post, we will discuss the matters you have to consider and prepare for when you have a special needs child. But before we go into it, let’s discuss the different types of special needs children.
What are the different types of special needs?
There are generally four categories of special needs with typical examples.
These special needs children may have a brain injury, orthopedic impairment, or other health impairment that causes the child to have a physical disability. Because of the disability, the children’s mobility, stamina, and agility are affected.
Typical examples are multiples sclerosis, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, chronic asthma, allergies, and limb differences.
Some development delays may already be noticeable during the early infant stages, while others manifest later in life. Children with developmental delays may have physical impairments, learning difficulties, intellectual disabilities, and medical complications.
Examples are down syndrome, autism spectrum disorder, dyslexia, processing disorders.
A child with behavioral or emotional needs displays consistent disruptive behavior. A child may show an inability to pay attention, focus, or stay still.
Examples are Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Bipolarism.
· Sensory Impaired
Examples are blindness, visual impairments, deaf, limited hearing, and sensory processing disorder.
What are the needs of a special child?
1. Early Intervention
You need to work closely with your pediatrician to identify the special needs of your child. Through early intervention, the child can get the appropriate support that he/she needs to progress and achieve his/her developmental milestones. You also understand better the child’s disabilities or developmental delay, which will help you better care for your child.
For example, your doctor will instruct that you schedule your child with down syndrome to regular physical, speech, and occupational therapy. Early intervention can help the child improve his/her muscle tone and develop his gross and motor skills.
2. Child Care
Because a special child needs close supervision depending on the severity of their condition, you may need to decide if a parent will take care of the child. Another option is to hire a caregiver that would look after the child while you are at work.
For children with mild learning difficulties or behavioral issues, they are advised to attend mainstream primary schools.
However, if the child requires specialized attention and teaching, the regular school may refer the child to a dedicated special needs school. In the special needs school, the class size is smaller, and programs are tailored-fit to support the child.
While education is free for most primary and secondary schools, the schools require voluntary parent contribution. The contribution is spent on after-school activities and other costs associated with caring for the child.
If you opt to enroll your child in a private school, you have to set aside a bigger budget for the full school fees.
It is essential to ensure that the child gets the proper nutrition through his food and supplements if needed. In general, parents need to make sure that the child eats a balanced meal that consists of carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins and minerals, fiber, and water.
However, the diet may need to be tailored depending on the energy requirement, special nutritional needs, activities, and behavioral issues of the child. For instance, children with autism need increased Vitamin B and protein.
Parents should be cautious in the type of food that is given to the child, especially if the child has any food restrictions or special diet requirements.
For children with developmental delays like down syndrome, they rely on milk for nutrition because they cannot eat solids in their sixth month.
5. Medical Care
Children with special needs require more doctor visits and consultations. Apart from the regular vaccine every child needs to get, special needs children need to undergo special tests and take medications as prescribed by their doctor.
How should I budget for my Child with Special Needs?
1. Research on the current costs
If you detect an abnormality through the Anomaly scan during your pregnancy, you can already seek the advice of a doctor. You should discuss the type of medical care, test, and therapy needs of your child with the doctor. Check on the current costs and check what is covered by the government or health insurance. The sooner you can start your research, the better.
2. Create a budget plan and track your spending.
Based on the costs you have identified, create a budget plan. Like in handling the finances, it is best to track the spending so that you can monitor where your money goes and adjust your plan accordingly.
3. Set aside an Emergency Fund.
Unfortunately, accidents and medical emergencies may happen. And so, parents need to anticipate these kinds of untoward incidents by saving up money as an emergency fund.
4. Save money in a Trust fund.
While some children with special needs can function and live as an adult, there are special need individuals that will need to rely on others for financial assistance and care. Even if you want to care for our child their whole life, the sad reality is that you can’t. By preparing a trust fund for your child, you will still be able to secure for his/her future.
Caring for a child with special needs is challenging, but it is equally fulfilling and rewarding. Seeking to understand their condition and their needs can help you better adjust how you parent your special needs child. Through planning and budgeting for their needs, you can focus on caring, being present, and save up for the future. Don’t hesitate to seek assistance from your doctor, family members, friends, and support group.
Do you have a child with special needs in your family? Please share your stories and experiences in the comment box below.
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