As parents, we all want our children to have enough money to live their lives. Planning for this is very important. My son was diagnosed with autism at age 4. He struggled in school from kindergarten through the beginning of middle school. When we moved to a new school district, the staff told me about supportive resources like Supplemental Security Income, Medicaid Waivers and job help. These systems helped us financially plan for my son’s future.
My son and I planned for the future by being active members of Admission, Review and Dismissal and Individualized Education Program meetings. We worked as a team to make the best decisions for my son’s future. It is important to ask questions. How can I help my child move toward his goal of being independent? Is he eligible for job training or even pre-college classes?
During the ARD and IEP meeting, we discussed his wants and needs. He wanted to go to college. With assistance from Texas Workforce Commission, he was closer to moving toward his goal. He wanted to attend college. At that time, TWC provided aid for college tuition and payment of books which helped financially.
In my culture, an 18-year-old child with or without a disability is expected to move out of their parent’s home and never return. After a year in college, my son changed his mind about college. He now wanted to get a job. I was getting him ready to start living away from home and being independent. My plan was college first, then a job. I thought, “What kind of job can he get without a college education?”
My son focused on finding a job that fit his skill set. Parents sometimes limit their children’s life experiences out of fear. We often encourage them to do what we think is safe. We worry about them failing. Our kids need the opportunity to try things even if it means it doesn’t work out. Giving my son chances to make his own decisions gave him the confidence to help him be successful in school or on the job. I saw his potential, not just his disability.
The Arc Center for the Futures Planning™ developed a tool called Build Your Plan. Use this free tool to help your son or daughter start planning for their future. My son is 32yearsold now and is a director of an afterschool program. We planned ahead with education, financial literacy, and job training for him to be successful.
Parents can start planning for their child’s future success early. When your child starts school, be their advocate. It is important for parents to work with the school administrators, the ARD and IEP team and your family. By working together, you begin to build a network of individuals who will help support your son or daughter with a disability.
Learn more about the transition to adulthood to start planning for your child’s future.
Once we know why segregation, oppression and unemployment occur, barriers can be removed and the quality of life for people living with disabilities will improve.