When is the best time to start thinking about a special needs trust for my child? - Bryan C.
It's never too early to start planning for the future of a child with special needs.
A special needs trust is an important part of a parent's estate plan to ensure a child's eligibility for government assistance is not jeopardized. A bequest, or gift, of as little as $2,000 could cause a child to be ineligible for certain needs-based government benefits, such as SSI (Supplemental Security Income) and Medi-Cal. A special needs trust will allow a parent to accumulate and transfer wealth to benefit a child with special needs without affecting government benefits.
Not sure if your child will need a special needs trust? No worries, the trust can be drafted with flexibility to terminate in the future if the trust is no longer needed.
Do you have any tips for making the holidays easier for my child with autism? - Kelly M.
Answered by Shannon McDaniel, Advancement Director, Via Services and mother of special needs child
The holidays are quickly upon us and with that comes added stress, busy schedules, family visits, travel, etc. The schools take extended breaks during the holidays so it leaves you in the position to either work from home or ensure that you have proper coverage. This can be particularly stressful if you are a parent of a child with special needs, as you now need to find an individual who is qualified to care for your child at home. I am a mother of a son with cerebral palsy and autism, and I understand how difficult it can be to get through the holiday season. Here are some of my tips:
- During your child's time off from school, try and work on some of the fun goals that have been outlined in his/her IEP. Go on fun outings to restaurants where your child can work on self-sufficiency skills by ordering his/her own food. Work on engaging activities like baking cookies or decorating holiday cards.
- If you're traveling, read books about travel to your child to help him/her better understand the mode of travel and how it is a safe place. Visit the local airport to watch planes take off and land.
- Most importantly, relax and enjoy the season! When you are stressed, your child is stressed, so try to relish the time you get to spend with your family and friends.
My child attends Via West Day Camp - how can I work with him so that he can eventually spend an overnight there? - Jorge D.
Answered by Leslie Davis, CEO (and former Director of Via West), Via Services
We are so happy that your child is already part of the Via West family. Starting in our day program is the best way to prepare - he is already building independence, making friends and learning valuable skills.
We suggest that you gradually increase the number of hours that he attends with the day program - please remember that your son can arrive as early as 9am and stay until 8pm. Lengthening his time here will make him feel more at ease. Begin preparing your son for his overnight at home by possibly inviting a friend for a sleepover so that he is in the same room with a peer. You can also have him stay at a grandparent's house for "practice."
Use social stories to go over the entire overnight camp routine - we can help you with this. Feel free to visit after 8:30pm so he can see what the lodge looks like closer to bedtime. When talking about packing, assure him he can bring his favorite blanket, pillow, stuffed animal, or all of the above.
Lastly, let him know that you are only a phone call away and that if he felt he could not handle the whole night, we would most definitely contact you. We want you and your family to think as Via West as a safe, happy place that all of you can count on. We will be with you every step of this journey.
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