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“It’s not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor.” Seneca

Oct. 20, 2021

It is helpful when approaching the topic of Finance to understand the emotional aspects.  Below are a few statistics about what families of children with autism face and what adults you serve may have experienced concerning finances during childhood.  Autism Speaks at reports:

Mothers of children with ASD, who tend to serve as the child’s case manager and advocate, are less likely to work outside the home. On average, they work fewer hours per week and earn 56 percent less than mothers of children with no health limitations and 35 percent less than mothers of children with other disabilities or disorders. On average, autism costs an estimated $60,000 a year through childhood, with the bulk of the costs in special services and lost wages related to increased demands on one or both parents. Costs increase with the occurrence of intellectual disability. 

These statistics are not very encouraging, but they help to explain what families of children with autism are up against when it comes to financial survival.  Finances are an emotionally charged subject for most people regardless of ability.  Few people expect to have a child whose needs outpace their earning potential so profoundly.  As the prevalence of autism has increased so has the public response to this epidemic.  However, as we see from the Autism Speaks statistics above, we have a long way to go before the impact on family finance is diminished for individuals with neurological developmental disabilities. Maintaining public funding sources is often seen as outweighing all other factors in life as these cannot be replaced by family finance.  This often affects financial and employment decisions more than other factors that affect these choices for typically developing individuals. 

We will talk about how to teach the mechanics of finance at differing levels, but we will also talk about teaching the emotional side of this subject.  It is important that individuals with disabilities understand how to advocate for themselves and feel empowered to control their financial destiny, even when they are reliant on public resources.  How you feel about your finances is as important as understanding and tracking them.  Staff and individuals served should understand where funding for services comes from to the best of their ability.  With this understanding, they can learn who to talk to if they want a service change.  Understanding how to navigate public resources should not be underestimated as many of the individuals served will be reliant on them to meet basic needs.  This will be a lifelong pursuit, but it is an important goal to work toward.  Attending meetings about funding can grow to participating in those meetings to requesting those meetings to understanding how those meetings affect daily life and so on.  Everyone may have to grow together in this area as changes occur, but it is important that individuals receiving the funding and services are as involved as possible.