This is a contributed post and therefore doesn’t necessarily reflect the views or opinions of this blog and its author.
When you are the parent of an autistic child, you can’t always live in the present. You have to think about the future. You need to consider what comes next. What happens when your child reaches high school, what happens when they reach college age when they are old enough to live independently, and the list just goes on. You also need to think about what your role will be in their life. For parents, usually, there is a time when they step back and let their children live completely independently. When you have a child with autism, it’s possible that this day never arrives. This, of course, depends largely on whether they can function by themselves.
Even if they need your support a lot now, it’s fair to say that many children with autism do become independent. Particularly those who are high functioning. But, it is still worth looking at future challenges, the decisions you’ll need to make and how you can help ensure a positive future for your child.
How Hands On will You Be?
Does your child need constant care? If they do, then you’ll need to decide whether you are your partner will fill this role or if you are going to hire outside help. As a parent, your gut reaction will be to take on this responsibility yourself. After all, you want to make sure that you get as much time with your child as possible. But you have to think about the strains this is going to put on your life.
For instance, if you have other children, you’ll spend less time with them, and it could even strain your relationship. The relationship between you and your partner will be under pressure as well. On top of that, it’s going to be an incredible, stressful, often frustrating experience. Particularly, if your child has difficulty communicating or has issues with contact. This can leave you feeling disconnected from someone who you will spend most of your life looking after.
The benefit of hiring someone will be that you will still have your personal life, you won’t be under that constant pressure, and you won’t burn out. But, you may feel guilty about not being the largest part of your child’s life, and then there’s the cost. So, perhaps we should look at how to deal with that as well.
How Do You Handle The Future Costs?
How much does it cost to have a child with autism? A lot is the short answer. According to experts, it costs on average about $17,000 a year to look after a child with autism. Speaking from experience, it could be a lot more than that, and that’s outside of the emotional costs that you’ll face.
As such, you need to make sure that you can cover these costs because it’s always common for a family like this to enter into debt. You don’t want that, and that’s why you need to protect yourself. First, you need to think of the type of issues that can impact your income. What if you developed a disability? Then, you might not be able to work. That’s why medical professionals use services offered by sites like https://insurestat.com/. With a service like this they can make sure that even if they are hit with a disability, they can still provide for their family. You should consider similar options depending on your career and the risks that you may face.
Of course, you also need to think about what might happen if you pass away. You have to make sure that your child is going to be taken care of and your partner’s income might not be enough. That’s why life insurance can be a smart move. Remember, a child with autism may need to be supported their entire life. If you pass away, you need to make sure that they will still have the money they need to get the best possible treatment and care.
Questions About Schooling?
You need to think about education as well. We’re not just talking about high school here, but that’s certainly the place to start. You need to look at whether your child is best suited for high school or whether special education might be the best option. Some children are simply not going to survive in traditional education settings. They need more attention, individual support and they need to be away from the pressures or stress caused by a class full of kids.
Other parents decide to homeschool their kids, and that’s okay too. It’s all about deciding what is best for your child.
What about college? A lot of teenagers with autism do end up going to college. You can read about this https://childmind.org/. But they often need more support than the typical student. If you have a child, who is a high academic achiever you might not even consider the possibility that they’ll have issues at the college. But, it is common for the new pressures and indeed the lack of an educational structure to impact them emotionally. They might feel immense pressure, particularly around exam time. You need to be prepared for this, providing the support that they need. And, while college is supposed to be a time of independence, some parents do end up relocating so that they can be close by in case they are needed.
Will Your Child Ever Be Fully Independent?
This is a difficult question to answer. Have you been watching The Good Doctor? This is a dramatic interpretation of a young man with something closer to savants syndrome than autism who does live a type of independence. Dramatic interpretations like this can be frustrating for parents with autism because this type of ASD, while real, is also very rare. You can learn about it on https://psmag.com/. Most children with autism are not geniuses, and their disability does impact their ability to function in society. However, many do go on to live their lives independently albeit with coping mechanisms and structures in place. As your child continues to develop, you will understand whether they can survive on their own.
However, you may also need to come to terms with the fact that they may always need you to cope with some of the struggles they face in life. That said, whether you have an autistic child or not, parenting is always a lifelong commitment, and there will be a time when your child needs you, no matter how old they are.