One of the most difficult hurdles for families of children with special needs is the question of where the child will live. Will she stay with her parents, go to college, live on her own, or move to a group home? Will he be able to support himself, need support from parents or require subsidized housing?
Families may grapple with these tough decisions at the time a child reaches adulthood or at a later time when living at home with parents is no longer appropriate or no longer possible. Whenever this transition occurs, it requires careful planning and extensive research about the options available in the particular community. Advance planning is important so that this vital transition does not occur under the sudden pressure of a parent’s illness or death.
The transition to adulthood can be difficult for anyone, but doubly or triply so for an individual with special needs. In addition to the emotional and developmental challenges it brings, it means huge transitions in terms of benefits programs, education, day-to-day structure, medical coverage and residential choices. Fortunately, with proper planning and assistance from non-profit organizations that work with individuals with special needs and from professionals in the field, these transitions can be smooth and open up new opportunities to individuals with special needs and their families.
Harry S. Margolis practices elder law and special needs planning in Massachusetts and is a co-founder of the Academy of Special Needs Planners.
Eric Prichard is a freelance writer who focuses on special needs and elder law. He is also a licensed Massachusetts attorney.
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