Sunday, June 5, 2011

Planning For A Worst Case Scenario (Children)


Song:  Us And Them (Piano version)

Artist:  I Love My Piano 73



Although now...
my son's future is wide open...
and our concerns greatly alleviated
as my son is basically symptom free...
and just as importantly...
he is a very happy child
who is shooting for the stars...

it was just 8 years ago...
when we were still new parents...
I had never known true...
gut wrenching...
soul tormenting...
fear...
until I was faced with the possibility
that our son...
Alex...
at the age of just 2.5 yrs...
would possibly face life...
without the tools necessary to survive
on his own.

Our fear was not based upon how it would affect us...
but how it would possibly affect our son.


It was not the prospect of our facing 
the possibility of caring for him for the rest of our lives
that had scared us so much...
it was the prospect of we not being able to care for him...
with all the love, respect, and deep caring that our son 
deserves...when we died.

As I was just shy of 41 yrs. old when my son was born...
my wife was 35 yrs. old...
it was inevitable that he would be spending
a large portion of his life alone in his later years.


As new parents...
when we had seen our son...at about age 2 years old...
doing strange repetitive motions...
sometimes looking upwards and behind him with his eyes....
as if he had heard something when nothing was there...
and when he would crouch down on his feet...
hold his ears and shut his eyes and scream 
as if he were being tortured...
and begin rocking to and fro...
we were so scared for him.

My wife started showing her true inner strength...
the great maternal instinct that drives women to great
lengths in the service of their children...
she started her journey of education into possible
causes and areas where we could get the most help
for him.


We were fortunate to have had him looked at by a local school
psychologist who, after doing some tests, referred us to an agency
that does diagnostic tests for Autism.

My wife had researched more about this agency...
and the services they provided...
before our appointment.

They offered a school for Autistic children...
or...
 in-home Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) therapy
(35-40 hrs. a week with strict guidelines for parental involvement).

There was only one decision to be made...
the in-home therapy would be the best for Alex...
there was nothing else to consider.


It was a very involved program:



When we got the official diagnosis...
it was actually one of relief...
we could start on a plan of action.

We knew something was amiss...
we could now focus our attention 
on getting our son better.

While my wife and I are not always
on the same page on many things in life...
when it comes to our son...
we are as one.

Alex comes first and foremost.

My wife took care of the immediate concerns...
the day to day operations...
the research and treatment aspects...
the daily application of ABA...
the follow through.

She also became Alex's master instructor
in academics.

My wife took great care of Alex in the there and then.

It would be my job to look after the future.

I went into planning mode.

My wife and I became a team...
it would become nothing less than
a well planned military operation...

a well defined directional thrust...
with multiple preplanned contingencies...
and as with military operations...
failure was not an option.

 The planning must cover every aspect of the human condition...

Physical...
Intellectual...
Emotional.

Our first concern was resource management
(which greatly overlaps the physical and emotional).

We knew that to give our son the best
with what we had...
not only financially...
but with time spent with him...
we had to have no more children.

There is only so much time in a day...
and only so much money to divide.

It was a simple matter of limiting expenditures...
to maximize the planned results.

Now at this time...
we had learned that some Autistic children
can actually regress as they age...
to the point of their not being able to function
independently.

I had to concentrate on financial planning to ensure
his care would be met for his lifetime.

I had opened a Roth IRA in my name

(they are inheritable...non taxable.. ever...no capital gains...
non taxed when withdrawn...no matter the amount the money 
has grown.  I had put my wife...and then my son...as the order
of inheritance).

With a Roth IRA being fully inheritable...
(so long as you list them as beneficiaries)
you can plan long term care for your child.

I have long term dividend bearing stocks and bonds...
so compounding interest can work its magic.

I am talking 50 - 60 yrs. of growth...
each payout of dividends reinvested
in more purchases can...over time...
be enough to take care of his retirement expenditures...
combined with his inheriting everything we will have
accumulated over our lifetime.

We will make sure our final retirement property is fully paid off...
we will also carry enough insurance to pay it off in case of our
early demise.

I was fortunate to have had a good career...
one with great benefits.

It was not a job of passion so much as one
of great stability and financial advantage.

This was also a conscious decision I had made
early on when I decided that I would one day
become a family man
(Deferred Gratification).



It has allowed me to fully retire at a young age...
and to receive a large percentage for the rest of my life...
and it even gives half of my retirement to my wife
for the rest of her life when I eventually die 
(the retirement property shall either be fully paid off
or the insurance will  cover that which is not...
this will allow her to live comfortably regardless).


I had also taken into account my genetics and lifestyle
for determining my plausible lifespan.

As both are good for longevity...
my plan could be less radical.

I take care to improve longevity by...

 limiting all risky behavior...
extreme sports...
motorcycle riding 
(I got rid of my motorcycle)...
I don't smoke or drink...
I drive conservatively...
I eat right and exercise...
I get enough sleep...

and by my having picked my parents well...  :)
(centenarian..or near so...great grand  and grand parents 
on both sides)

I also have an investment account for Alex's education.

Although we are in fairly good financial shape...
it would not be enough were we not
also frugal in spending.

We try to take local vacations...
and rarely spend on unnecessary items.

I drive my vehicles until they can go no further.

All of my vehicles go at least 300,000 miles before 
the need for a new one arises. 

My point is...
you must not only think of life
for your child long after you are gone...
you must plan for it.

Financial planning 
is the key for his physical
and emotional well being.

Live within your means.

A little money now...
invested in interest bearing
vehicles and automatically reinvested
over long periods of time (50-60 yrs.)...
to allow compound interest to 
take effect to ensure living expenses
are covered for your child when you die...
is one of the most effective ways...
and within the means of almost everyone...
as amounts can be added monthly, quarterly, or annually
(although most of the investment should be as early as possible).

Insurance is a way to cover your family for unexpected events
(one form of contingency planning).


For the purely Physical...

it is...
as always...
all about...

 correct diet...
exercise...
adequate rest.

This will pay great dividends in not only
the quantity of years...
but the quality of years
your child will enjoy.

As simple and basic as this is...
I am constantly astounded by the amount
of fast and junk food many children consume...
all in lieu of a healthful diet.

I don't care how much money a person has...
without health...
life simply cannot be fully enjoyed.

Barring physical anomalies
(as in very rare cases)
there is no excuse for obesity.

How you raise your child to eat...
is how he shall eat throughout life.

Planning for the child's long term care...
also necessitates the parents improve and maintain
their health.


It is as simple as...

you needing to be there for him...
and being able to concentrate on his needs...
instead of your own...
unnecessarily brought about
by the various health maladies associated with
fully preventable lifestyle choices you will make.


The Intellectual:

For those of whom are faced with a newly
diagnosed child in the Autistic Spectrum...
it is crucial that you start him on a path of
life altering mental and physical stimulation.

We have had astoundingly great success with our 
ABA therapy.

It was intensive enough...
and in quantities enough...
to effect great changes in his capabilities.

Should you have the opportunity to engage your child
in such a program...
I can fully vouch at the effectiveness
that this program has had on our son.

I also realize that there are many children
who may not respond so well as Alex has.

I, in no way, make a claim
that all children can become fully independent
one day.

However...
with constant and guided intellectual stimuli...
he will greatly improve over that which he was.

 We were so very fortunate in having had
such great ABA providers at a time
when such services were being fully provided.

With the economic times we are now living in...
such services have been greatly cut back.

The key now, for the application of ABA, is in the training
of the parents.

There is so much that a parent can do...
so long as they learn the same techniques
that the therapists use.

Many of the services teach the parents in the application of ABA.

Regardless...
the key to intellectual development
is in the consistent application of the desired areas of study 
and of great praise when the child does well.

The KEY is...
to give him the LOVE of learning
through Positive Reinforcement.

Start early and do it daily.

Get him used to 6 - 8 hours of study a day...
even before pre-school...
and at least 3 hours after school.
(there is still time for plenty of play).

Study should be 365 days of the year.

Weekends and Summer could be shortened to 
a mere 4-6 hours...
but the habit of studying should be a daily occurrence.

Teach him basic concepts...
guide him through the educational process...
praise him greatly for his successes.

Whether it is to teach him basic life skills...
or to teach him advanced academics...
it is by having him develop study habits
early on that he gets used to a life of learning.

Whatever you do...
don't sell your child short.

With consistent and correct therapy...
lots of love and affection...
many children on the Spectrum 
can live a happy life...
and continue making improvements.


Parental involvement is an absolute.


Emotional:

By covering his...
 Physical and Intellectual growth...
you will have already given him control
over his life.

This, in itself, is a great key to happiness.

By relieving the child of the unnecessary stress
of the unknowable and uncontrollable...
he will be able to live without fear.

To further his Emotional growth
by giving him a creative passion in life...
will give him a further sense of control... 
as well as a refuge to seek solace in times
of internal turmoil.  

This can be a way for him to make himself happy
regardless of the world around him...
and it will be something that no one
will be able to take away.

Having your child participate in any number of 
creative outlets will give him a sense of connection
to all others of the same discipline, at the very least.

It will also be an avenue of reaching out to those who appreciate
that which he will eventually be able to produce.

This will give him a sense of...
and a hope for...
the future.

He will be able to self actualize in a discipline 
of which will give him immense pleasure...
a true and fiery passion...
that which can give him 
the very reason to live life fully.

This can be a very effective means
of greatly controlling...
mitigating...
or preventing...
debilitating depression.

It can be a very effective coping skill...
the use of a negative emotion as a creative drive.

Although music is a very often used avenue...
it could be painting...
writing...
dance...
etc.


One last note:

All of these principles apply just as much to you...
the parents.

You will need to be there for your child.

You will not be able to do so...
nearly so effectively...
if you are not fully involved with life also.

You must not neglect yourself either.

There is time enough for you to...
 eat right...
sleep right...
exercise...
and pursue a creative outlet...

if you prioritize correctly.


You must realize...

television is not a passion...

hanging out with your friends everyday...

is not a passion.


Find and pursue your own 
creative passions in life...
if just for an hour every day.

It will give you the energy and wisdom necessary
to guide your child through his life.



2 comments:

  1. A lot of good thoughts here.

    I think your last note is often overlooked. We all spend so much energy on our children that we overlook ourselves. Good to be reminded of how important it is to find our own outlets.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yes...no matter if the parent is an SUV in life...able to carry many burdens...or a fuel efficient hybrid...able to go longer periods carrying fewer burdens...all still need fuel. Without filling our own soul with the fuel of deep happiness...we will eventually be left to pushing our cars down the highway (drudgery...depression...etc).

    Proper care - Physical / Intellectual / Emotional of one's self is the necessary maintenance to keep we...the vehicles in life.... running.

    Should we break down...we cannot properly carry our precious cargo.

    ReplyDelete

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