The Cost of Raising a Special Needs Child | downtown-houston

Posted on September 12, 2012




For parents of a normal child it is relatively easy to consider the emotional strain that a special needs child could place on you.  Imagine if your child needed 24×7 care, could not play outside with friends or was so depressed they wanted to take their own life and your heart feels heavy, even if only felt for a second, and this brings us closer to these parents.  But there are other costs of raising a special needs child that are not so apparent or easy to relate.

It seems like every year we hear estimates about how much money it takes to raise a child and the numbers are really quite staggering.  They make me wonder how we managed to raise two of them.  What we don’t read about is the cost of raising a special needs child and that figure is hidden and probably not known even to the family, unless they keep very close track.  That does not mean that we should not consider the additional burden these parents carry.

Let us consider some of the items that can add to the cost.

Schooling: My wife and I learned early on that the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) gave us some additional power that we could use to negotiate the complex and sometimes rigid school systems.  But the fight for a good education for a special needs child can be long and arduous.  Time off work, vacations days spent in meetings at school, lunches on phone calls with administrators all take their toll, monetarily and emotionally on parents and the rest of the family.

Sometimes the fight requires the help of paid legal help, attorneys or consultants.

If therapies are needed the school district is required to provide them but if they are denied often parents start paying out of their own pocket as the appeals process can take months.

Extracurricular Activities: There are activities that can help these children enjoy each other, feel “normal” and be good for body, mind and spirit but they can be very costly.

Equipment: Many times these children require additional equipment and medications and sometimes insurance covers the cost but often times there is significant out of pocket expense for the parents.  Again, fighting insurance companies is time consuming and a draining task.

Medical Specialists: If medical specialists are required it can mean travel time and additional cost.  Many times the experts are not located in the same city or state as the child and that requires a significant investment.

Home Improvements: The cost of having a handicapped accessible home can be significant.  Most doorways are not quite big enough for a wheel chair to get through; there are ramps, specially designed bath rooms, etc.

Clothing: Special needs children often wear out their clothing quicker than other kids do which requires parents to spend additional money on replacements.  If the child requires diapers that just adds to the cost.

Special Diets: We all know the cost of food but special diets can quickly increase the cost of a food budget and strain other areas of an already tight financial situation.

Respite Care: In many circumstances it is important that the family get respite care.  If there are other children in the family there are activities that parents need to attend where it may not be appropriate or safe for a special needs child.  See our blog on how to get volunteers to help with this.

Raising any child is a challenge, but raising a special needs child places a lot of additional strain on the family.  Understanding some of the demands that pull and tug on their time and resources will help us be more understanding and may enable us reach out our hand to help.

via The Cost of Raising a Special Needs Child | downtown-houston.