From One Special Needs Parent to Another: Get Life Insurance

Written by Jennifer Sullivan, Mother and Autism Advocate

My husband and I sat watching our son line up his toys, his frustration growing every time they fell over and were not perfectly straight. We were discussing the future for our little boy and what Autism might look like 5, 10, 20 years down the road.

We didn’t know what time would bring, but we knew we needed to plan for the worst and continue working toward the best. We both knew Autism could limit our son’s ability to provide for himself in the future. We prepared a Special Needs Trust and made sure we had loving people who could help care for our son if we are gone.

We also started discussing a life insurance policy – for me.

My husband, the primary earner in our household, has a life insurance policy through his employer. I work part time and care for our son and his needs full time. Generally, families do not consider life insurance for the stay at home parent, but our calculations quickly concluded that this would be a costly overlooked mistake with a child who has special needs.

Why did we consider a life insurance policy for the stay at home parent?

When we typically think of life insurance we are considering what happens when the primary earner passes away and how the family will survive the financial loss. Being a family with a special needs child, we also need to consider the financial burden if the stay at home parent dies unexpectedly.

Autism care can be expensive. Aside from the therapies recommended for children with Autism, the time commitment for a child with special needs is great. Care often requires the full time dedication of one parent. In the event of my unexpected passing, my husband would be left juggling his full time job and providing the intensive care for our son.

Childcare options for special needs children are often limited, and when found are typically more expensive. Our son, for example, requires one on one specialized care. The local daycares or after school programs often reject an application because they are simply not equipped or properly staffed for special needs care. With fewer options and specific requirements, we often pay a premium for childcare.

For my husband to continue providing for our family in my absence a life insurance policy would afford him the necessary financial support to pay for additional assistance and out of school care that meets our son’s specific needs without affecting his career.

As many parents can attest, peace of mind is an invaluable asset. For relatively low cost, a life insurance policy for me will ensure that my husband can continue working while my son’s care does not become a financial liability, or worse yet, an unavailable option leaving my son without the necessary support for his diagnosis.

For our family, putting a financial plan in place for our son has helped ease some of the worry that comes with special needs parenting. My advice: get the insurance and some well deserved peace of mind.

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