On March 29th The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report stating that 1 in 88 US children are affected with an autism spectrum disorder. This new estimate means autism is nearly twice as common as officials said it was only five years ago, and likely affects roughly 1 million U.S. children and teens.
These numbers were startling to me and I realized we as a society need to accept autism for what it is - an epidemic. If we truly accept this fact we can start to change our thinking towards these children and teens who in the blink of an eye will be a significant part of our next generation of adults. A generation of adults, who may not be able to work, live on their own or be able to afford their own healthcare. My ex and I have thought long and hard about these things for many years. Who will take care of our son Will if we aren't around? Where will he live? Will he be able to work and provide for himself or if God willing a family one day?
All of these things are an unknown, just like for any of us, autistic or not. So how do you plan?
We decided based on the countless hours of research we have done over the years to create a special needs trust for Will. My financial advisor recommended an estate planning attorney who has helped us create a plan where upon my death and his father's, our money will be placed into a special needs trust for Will's benefit. The purpose of this trust is to supplement but not to take the place of benefits, programs, and services, governmental or private to which Will might otherwise be entitled due to his autism. A Trustee will have full discretion to disperse money for Will's benefit.
This plan works for us, it may not for everyone, but for us it is the right thing to do. It helps us sleep better at night knowing that he will be taken care of financially and his sister will not be burdened with the responsibility of taking care of him.
April is Autism Awareness month which is a special opportunity for you to educate the public about autism and issues within the autism community. They say that if you see one child with autism, you see one child with autism. No two are alike. The same goes for the families of these amazing individuals. No two families are alike. What works for one may not work for another. I can at least share what has worked for my family to help alleviate some of our stress and worries. Do your research, see what options are available to you and your situation, and above all know you are not alone.
This post is prepared for informational purposes only and is not a solicitation or an offer to buy any security or instrument or to participate in any trading strategy. Individuals need to make their own decisions based on their specific objectives, financial circumstances and tolerance for risk. Please contact your financial, tax and legal advisors regarding your specific situation.