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Orange County Offers Workshops to Families Facilitated for Families with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Other Developmental Disabilities

July 26th, 2012

The Orange County Department of Mental Health is now accepting applications for Healthy Lifestyles, facilitated groups for children and young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders and other Developmental Disabilities. Workshops will also be offers to parents that will provide guidance and discussion that will focus on teaching basic concepts to youth or young children.

Children and young adult workshops will learn:

  • Personal hygiene
  • Private vs. public behavior
  • Relationships
  • Boundaries
  • Social etiquette
  • Physical and emotional changes
  • How to manage personal needs differences in appropriate and inappropriate relationships
  • Conversational skills
  • Strategies to fit in at school and community groups
  • Common social rules and rituals
  • Positive self-esteem
  • Use of visual cues to support skills learned.

Registration is only available to those that submit this application. For more information, contact Joyce Schmidt at 845-291-2600.

For more information about special needs planning or special education advocacy, please visit www.specialneedsnewyork.com.

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Siblings Have a Unique Role in Families with Special Needs

July 16th, 2012

When a family has a child with a special need, that child understandably needs the support of the whole family, and much of the family’s resources – time, money, and emotional strength – are devoted to caring for their loved one with special needs.  When that child has a sibling, the parents also need to consider the sibling’s unique position.

Siblings of  children with special needs develop compassion and understanding beyond their years and they learn the importance of a truly loving, caring family.  Parents also know that caring for a child with special needs takes an emotional toll, not only on themselves, but on the child’s sibling as well.

In planning for the future, an important thing for parents to consider is that the sibling or siblings of their child with special needs will likely have a role as a caregiver, probably for longer than the parents themselves.  There are steps parents can take to help make that transition as smooth as possible.

Creating a special needs trust is an important way to protect your child’s financial future, by setting aside assets for enhancing quality of life, while protecting the right to public benefits.  A sibling is an ideal co-trustee or successor trustee for a special needs trust.

If your child will need a guardian once she reaches adulthood, it is important to establish guardianship and to plan for who will be her guardian after you pass away.

Parents should also consider drafting a letter of intent.  This document spells out in detail your wishes for the care of your child after you pass away, including medical care, your child’s unique likes and dislikes, and living arrangements.  This can be of great benefit to a sibling who will be a caregiver for a person with special needs.

For assistance with questions regarding your child’s special needs visit our website at https://www.specialneedsnewyork.com/.

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The Supreme Court’s Affordable Care Act Ruling is Good for Families that have Loved Ones with Special Needs

July 5th, 2012

The U.S. Supreme Court case Florida v. Department of Health and Human Services, which challenged the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has been covered heavily by mainstream and online media outlets. The Court heard arguments on the case in a historical three day session March 26-28, 2012.

The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the individual mandate and most provisions of the Affordable Care Act. A federal penalty on states not cooperating with the Medicaid expansion provision of the law was deemed unconstitutional but Chief Justice John Roberts gave Congress a constitutional antidote with his opinion.

While most news outlets have focused on the political outcome of the Court’s decision, they have failed to cover the important issue of how the ruling will affect the lives of those with special needs. Had the Court overturned the law in its entirety, people caring for loved ones with special needs would have lost access to many benefits provided by the Affordable Care Act.

Prior to the Affordable Care Act, employer plans and individual health insurance policies could exclude children 19 and under with special needs as they were often determined to be “pre-existing conditions.”

Special needs children and adults will require more medical attention in their lifetime than other individuals. The law now prohibits insurance companies from setting a maximum lifetime benefit which means special needs patients cannot lose their health coverage because of too many claims or because they have exceeded a policy limit.

For more information on the Affordable Care Act, visit www.hhs.gov or www.healthcare.gov. For information on special education advocacy, special needs planning, guardianships or transition planning, visit www.littmankrooks.com or www.specialneedsnewyork.com.

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