OGDENSBURG -- Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center is celebrating Autism Awareness Month in April by reminding parents to plan for their child’s future care.
According to AutismSpeaks.com, the disorder affects one in 110 children in the United States, with boys four times more likely than girls to be diagnosed on the spectrum. The number of reported cases of autism has increased 57 percent from 2002 to 2006.
Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center‘s pediatric team recommends that all parents of autistic children plan ahead in case they ever become unable to care for their child. The team recommends that parents name guardians, set up a special needs trust and build a team of support for their child.
Guardians should be named who can oversee a child’s care in the event of the parents’ death. Without a named guardian the child may become the focus of a custody battle. Focus on finding someone who loves the child and is dedicated to his or her care. Parents should give copies of their designations to the guardian, the child’s school, babysitters and neighbors.
A special needs trust will ensure that a disabled child’s needs are taken care of after the death of his or her parents. Leaving a child an inheritance outright could void their eligibility for social security or Medicaid. A trust can ensure that the child receives financial benefits without actually having assets in his or her name, leaving governmental benefits intact.
Building a team of trusted caregivers and advisors will ensure that your child will have help if a crisis occurs. This can include legal guardians, a trusted doctor, financial advisor, estate planning attorney and family or friends.
Autistic children require a lifetime of care, but parents can take easy steps to ensure that their child will be physically and financially cared for in their absence.
For more information about autism or the pediatric staff at Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center visit www.claxtonhepburn.org.