Recent research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that 17% of children aged three to 17 in the US have a developmental disability. Meanwhile, around 19.1 million children in Latin America and the Caribbean are living with a disability. Some groups are more likely to have been diagnosed with such a disability than others. These include boys, non-Hispanic white and black children, children in rural areas, and children with public health insurance.
Some of the most common examples of developmental disabilities include cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, autism, spina bifida, and intellectual disabilities. If you are living in South Florida and your child has just received a diagnosis for a disability, what steps can you take to ensure they can live independently, especially when you are no longer around?
Seeking Legal Compensation
A child with a developmental disability may need one or more types of therapy and/or assistance throughout their lifetime. As reported by cerebral palsy group, CPFN, just a few expenses incurred by a person with CP include therapy sessions (occupational, speech, and physical therapy), medications, and diagnostic imaging tests. However, around 80.1% of people with intellectual or developmental disabilities do not have paid employment. If your child has CP or any other disability that was caused by medical malpractice or by any party’s negligence, then seeking compensation is an important way to ensure they can afford the long-term costs of their disability.
Accessing School Support and Government Services
Your child is entitled to various means of support under The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). For instance, from age zero to two, they are entitled to form part of an Early Intervention program and to obtain an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP). The latter will contain detailed provisions of the therapies and services your child will receive. From the age of three and upwards, your child can obtain assistance via their school, so you should ask your child’s teacher about an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). The latter lists down individual goals and indicates the steps towards achieving them. The IEP will also stipulate the assistive devices your child may need. These devices must be provided by the school district. If your child does not require specialized teaching, but they can benefit from social or behavioral support, then you can set up a 504 plan under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. The latter does not list down specific goals, but can help your child with aspects such as social skills. Your child may also be entitled to Extended School Year (ESY) Services if they have lost important skills during vacation periods.
Building Key Social Skills
Make sure your child has access to a wide array of social opportunities. Organize play dates with children who share their interests, sign them up for their favorite activities and sports, and avoid those that can be a stressor. Don’t just focus on academic and practical skills, but also on social skills like empathy, communication, turn-taking, and similar.
If you have a child with a disability, fending for their future is key from day one. Find out if they are entitled to legal compensation and pursue key plans and support systems they are entitled to. This might also be a good time to consider estate planning, so see a legal professional about how you can ensure your child remains independent even when you are no longer around.