When Gina and her husband were first married, and living in their first home (also know as “The Money Pit”), they talked about having children. “OK Gene, do you want to start a family or to destroy the family of carpenter ants eating our walls? What’s it gonna be?”
The fact was, they simply didn’t think they had enough money to have a child, though people convinced them otherwise.
“Kids aren’t that expensive,” they said.
Of course, the people who told them that didn’t have special children.
It’s no surprise that one of the biggest challenges facing families of special needs children are the costs involved with getting the care and support their special children need. (See article below.) Patty reminded Gina of this recently when she proudly displayed her check register. “Look Gene, my last ten transactions are co-pays to therapists and doctors.”
And Patty’s one of the fortunate ones, as her daughter does not have learning issues. Gina, however, who has two daughters with learning disabilities, has even more expenses, including therapists (who don’t take insurance), advocates, tutors, lawyers, medications, social groups, wine boxes, etc.
It’s really changed her view on her financial dreams. “Gina Gallagher you’ve just won one million dollars, what are you going to now?”
“Well, Ed, I’m going to buy a pharmacy.”
Don’t get us wrong; Gina has been fortunate, too. Her children function at a high enough level that she’s been able to work in her home as a professional freelance writer. But that’s involved Gina making sacrifices and taking work whenever and wherever she can get it.
“Mommy, do you have to take your laptop on Dumbo?”
And even with that, it’s still hard to manage the soaring costs. “Mike, I figured it out. If we play our cards right and our expenses for the girls don’t rise too much, we can retire at the young age of 115.”
The expenses also pretty much rule out fancy vacations that many of their friends are able to take.
“Gene, do you and Mike want to cruise to the islands with us on school vacation?”
“No thanks. We’re going to go to our own island — the one in the center of our kitchen.”
Though investment advisors might advise us against spending all our money on therapists, etc., we think the dividend payout is pretty good if we can make our children’s lives easier. Heck, we may even move them toward independence, and live the life we’ve dreamed of.
“Hey Gene, now that the kids are gone, what do you say you and cruise to Home Depot and get those mouse traps you’ve been wanting?”
“Oh Michael, you remembered.”
Are the soaring costs of advocating for your special child causing your family great stress? Tell us about. Also, read the article below about an innovate scholarship program in St. Louis designed to help special parents. Sounds like a great idea to us.