ASA's 37th National Conference on Autism Spectrum Disorders (July 13-15, 2006)

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Thursday, July 13, 2006: 3:15 PM-4:30 PM
551 A-B
#2280- Ten things you need to know when your child turns 18
This presentation will prepare you and your child for transition to adulthood and is presented from the perspective of a father and son who are currently going through these processes. Top ten items include Supplemental Security Income, Estate Planning, Life Insurance, Job Assistance, Recreation, Education, Residency, Medical, Housing, Guardianship.

Presenters:Jaime B. Parent, Father - Jaime Parent is a former ASA Board Member and Committee Chairperson. Blessed with three wonderful children, he and his wife Tracy, a Special Education Coordinator in Howard County, Maryland, serve as advocates and supporters for those with autism and other disabilities throughout Howard County.

Bryan D. Parent, Person, with, autism, Person with autism - Bryan Parent is a senior at Oakland Mills High School in Columbia Maryland. He has been employed at the Hard Times Cafe Restaurant as a greeter and a cashier at the Lakeside Cafe in Columbia, MD. A gifted athlete, Bryan excels at many sporting activities. "Crusher" is member of the Oakland Mills High School Wrestling Team and has competed at several regional championships and the 2004 Jr Cadet National Championships in Fargo, North Dakota

This presentation describes the top then things you need to know or at the very least be planning for, when your family member with autism turns 18 years of age. Few of these items are standalone events; together, they comprise a complete quality of life plan to maximize the full potential of your child as well as giving you both the opportunity to continue to support, nurture, and be prepared for the life challenges ahead for you and your family

As all of these points are important, they are presented alphabetically here and will be elaborated upon in greater detail during the presentation.

Education. Learning is a lifetime process that should continue for your child…as well as yourself. As learning does not end after high school, parents should have plans in place for further education. Such endeavors need not be limited to Harvard or even local community colleges. Technical training is available and should be pursued. Even the lowest functioning child can still learn and grow upon departure from the public school system.

Estate planning. As your child transitions to adulthood, wills become more important for you, your spouse, your son or daughter with autism, and your other children and heirs. Having a well constructed will won't cost you a fortune to obtain, but may cost you a fortune if you do not have one, or you have one that benefits a child with autism, yet hurts them at the same time. Trusts and estate planning should also be considered. One important aspect of a will and proper estate planning would be one that provides your adult child access to assets, while at the same time, protects SSI and Medicaid eligibility. Such vehicles can be constructed in a way that both benefit and protection can be provided. Life Insurance is a very important component of a complete financial plan. The trick is to provide for the disabled family member, yet also insure the financial viability and future of other children, should the loss of one or both parents occur. There can be some severe ramifications if not properly, or perhaps worse if not done at all.

Family and Letter of Intent. Your family is your greatest asset or your worst nightmare. As your other children grow older, they, too have needs. Include them in your decisions and make sure they are aware of what is happening

Guardianship. A difficult decision. What is a guardian and how do you obtain one? What are the factors that may affect your decision for guardianship? This decision needs to be addressed and weighed carefully for its legal, social and financial implications for both the individual and the family. A clear concise lifetime plan is essential for this decision to be made.

Housing. There are many options to consider and plan for here. Options include purchase of real estate, selection of group home, or staying with family. Financials resources obviously play a significant role here, but there are state agencies that can assist with this decision which will have a great impact on the quality of life for you and the family.

Jobs. We need jobs both for income generating purposes and self-worth. Your transitioning family member with autism is no different. Few things in life contribute more to the feeling of selfworth and contribution to the world than a good job. Employment for individuals with autism, regardless of where they might be in the spectrum, requires specific planning and there are particular strategies you can use both on your own and with state resources to accomplish job goals for your adult child.

Medical coverage. Your child is an adult and therefore, needs medical coverage just as much, if not more, than you do. Your private insurance may or may not cover your child, even if he or she continues to live with you. Medicaid is a possibility if qualified, but you may also need additional coverage based upon your individual circumstances. Chances are medical coverage lapses upon age 18 or soon after. You need to be prepared to make smart decisions for long term medical care, funded privately or publicly.

Recreation. All work and no play make all of us dull boys and girls. We all appreciate downtime and even the most typical of us may fall prey to simply watching too much TV. Exercise and hobbies are important aspects of life for all of us. Additional planning and strategy may be needed for the adult family member, but it's important to keep balance with these types of activities to maintain good health, good sleeping patterns and a general well being.

Spiritual growth. This category has perhaps the largest number of choices! Without getting into any specifics, the wonderment of our being is important for us to ponder. Any age can wonder and dream and spiritual growth can continue at home, places of worship, or special event.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The SSI eligibility you were perhaps denied years may change now that your 18 year old child's income and not yours, is the determining factor. SSI payments are designed to fulfill needs relating to food, clothing and shelter. How you fill out the SSI application and your plans for spending the money SSI gives you can be enormous factors in determining how much SSI payment your adult child will receive.

Considering and planning for these ten concepts can help give your family member with autism the best chance for maximizing potential and achieving the best quality of life possible. They also give you the piece of mind that although challenges remain, you can plan to provide the best for your family for the rest of their lives.

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