Improving Lifestyles and Planning for Tomorrow with Special Needs
All parents want their children to live wonderful lives, and they do all they can to make that a reality. As your child with autism becomes an adult, that journey can become more and more challenging.
It can become difficult to find services, to find a primary care provider who understands your adult child’s needs, to find a job (part-time, full-time, or even volunteer), and to build a support network that can come into play before you’re gone. Although there are certainly challenges, there is also movement on many fronts that will help you and your child overcome some of those challenges.
A study that was just published in Digital Medicine by researchers from Stanford University followed a small number of children with autism from ages 3-17 to determine if their social skills and social interaction could improve by using technology. Although small, the findings were encouraging. Each child was fitted with a pair of Google Glasses (connected to an app) that allowed them to learn and recognize (from the machine) eight emotions (happiness, sadness, anger, disgust, surprise, fear, neutral and contempt — based on facial expressions of their family members during a 20 minute session, three times per week for 10 weeks.
The findings were very positive because they showed that the children improved their ability to recognize the emotions of others, as well as adjust their behavior accordingly. This study is just another example of how technology will be used to improve the lifestyle of those with autism interact with the world around them in order to have a better job, more independent living options, improved relationships, and a better life.
Another area of concern for families is finding a health care professional that understands the needs of their child. Federal Lawmakers have finally realized this is an issue and is beginning to take action. A bill was introduced in July 2018 to designate those individuals with intellectual and development disabilities (IDD) as a “medically underserved population.” This label will allow qualification and access to additional resources from over two dozen federal programs. This bill will also provide additional incentives to health care professionals to serve our populations including loan forgiveness, higher payments from Medicaid and Medicare, and specialized training. These changes will allow more doctors and primary care providers to choose to work with our folks which will improve their overall health. This improvement in health is expected to increase their life expectancy.
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With the continued improvement in technology, and with this new bill focused on improving health outcomes for those with IDD, it is becoming quite clear that those with autism will have options to have an improved lifestyle with better health. These two elements most likely will result in a longer lifespan which means your child will live on this planet without you for an even longer period of time. This is certainly a positive for your child but will require you to have a plan in place that will include the proper legal, financial, tax, government benefits, and caregiving tools that will be necessary to allow your child to flourish for their entire lifetime (without running out of money.)
For more information on how to prepare for the future, be sure to contact a financial advisor who specializes in serving families with special needs. A Special Needs Plan is driven by their purpose of leading families to independence through an on-going multi-generational plan. A Special Needs Plan is passionate about families confidently moving forward.
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Ryan F. Platt, MBA, ChFC, ChSNC, is a registered representative of and offers securities, investment advisory, and financial planning through MML Investors Services, LLC, member of SIPC. A Special Needs Plan is not a subsidiary or affiliate of MML Investors Services, LLC, or its affiliated companies. This article is not a recommendation or an endorsement of any products.
This article was featured in Issue 81 – Building Self-Esteem in Kids with Autism