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Domestic Challenges of Families with Special Needs

November 19th, 2012

Caring for a child or other family member with special needs presents a number of issues in areas of health, finance, and law. You need to make sure your child receives proper care, your estate is well-planned, and you are receiving all the government benefits for which you are eligible. Services abound to help you make the best decisions in these regards.

These matters, complex as they may be, may in fact seem straightforward in comparison to two issues you may face that have much deeper personal and emotional aspects. The first is the question of where a special needs family member should live. The second is the endurance of a marriage or other domestic partnership in spite of the stresses that special needs care imparts.

A moderate to severe developmental disability in a family member raises the question of whether home care or institutional care is best. You must realistically consider what is best not only for the special needs patient, but for the rest of the family as well. Objective analysis of such an emotionally challenging decision can be very difficult.

A special needs individual can become very dependent on routines; a change in their environment can cause undue stress. Family members, therefore, need to develop long-term plans and prepare for contingencies. When stay-at-home special needs patients outlive their parents, for example, they may have to deal with being relocated while at the same time dealing with losing a loved one. This can be very traumatic.

Overall divorce rates nationwide are quite high, and in families with special needs children, the rate is probably even higher. Stresses of all kinds make relationship problems harder to resolve, and special needs children are certainly no exception.

On the bright side, a vulnerable and disadvantaged child can bring out in couples a firmer resolve to stay together for the sake of the child. The prevalence of divorce means that counseling and other support services are readily available in most communities. Increased awareness of special needs families means support services tailored to your needs are also likely nearby. For instance, look for programs at local churches where your children can spend time with others like them, giving you and your partner a break and some time alone.

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This article does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon. If you need legal advice concerning this or any other topic please contact our offices to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys at 914-684-2100 or 212-490-2020.