There are many concerns that weigh on the parents of autistic children that parents with neurotypical children will likely never truly understand. For example, parents must plan for the care of their child not just until they reach the age of majority, but often for the rest of their lives. That can drastically impact how parents structure their last wills and estate plans.
Parents who have autistic children, even if that child is now an adult, also have to consider the daily life and socialization needs of their child. Unlike their neurotypical peers, autistic children may not be able to attend college, work jobs as they get older or even maintain social networks. Parents often have to step in to assist with these needs.
School serves as a critical safety net for both the autistic child and the parent. It provides the child with education and socialization, while also providing the parent caregiver with desperately needed respite. Unfortunately, even when children have debilitating special needs, there are strict limits to how long they can receive certain benefits, such as public school education.
The laws only offer educational support until children turn 21
When autistic people reach the age of 21, they can no longer receive public school services. This is due to an oversight in federal law that was created well before the diagnosis rates for autism started to increase. While changes in the law may help in the future, many families get left scrambling when their child turns 21, unable to find other support services.
There are very few programs that offer daily socialization and educational support for autistic kids. Those that exist often have long waiting lists and high price tags. Planning ahead can assist your family in qualifying for Medicaid or other services that can help the autistic member of your family receive support they may need as an adult.
Medicaid planning and trust creation now can benefit your child for a long time
Talking to an attorney about what is necessary for your child with autism to qualify for Medicaid as an adult is an important first step. You also want to discuss how you can provide financial assistance for your child without impacting their eligibility. You likely want to give your child as much support and independence as possible.
Many times, the creation of a trust can help with this process. A properly funded trust can also benefit your autistic family member in the future if something happens to you. That same trust could provide ongoing income while also ensuring that the autistic person you love can still get the Medicaid benefits they will likely need to access medical care.