40% of people with a disability are under 65 – which means that the other 60% are late bloomers. They develop disabilities due to an accident, illness, worn body or mind during the retirement years…the expected disabilities which come with age.
What We Hope and Expect for People with Special Needs
Maybe what’s so special about special needs is what we hope, what we expect for children and working age adults. We expect them to grow. We expect them to be supported in this growth. Emotional and spiritual growth can and do come at any age. But we usually think of growth as physical and intellectual growth – and as growth with support, with opened doors, with shared discovery.
So we tend to think of people with special needs as people who should be supported physically and mentally as well as emotionally and spiritually. This may begin with early intervention programs, 504 school modifications or special education.
At some point SSI and SSDI; Medicaid, a Medicaid Waiver or Medicare become standard. An adult may be fortunate enough to have disability insurance or worker’s compensation, a personal injury settlement or a job which can be suitably modified in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Good Special Needs Planning
But there is more. Good Special Needs Planning is much more than creating and funding a Special Needs Trust or a Texas ABLE Account, or both. It is finding out what will help someone grow and contribute to and enjoy life and helping them put those supports and services in place. Sometimes, this involves guardianship. More often, it involves Alternatives to Guardianship.
Above all, it lies in creating opportunities to nurture individual and changing possibilities. We experiment. We add what might work better or might at least seem worth exploring. We toss out what does not work so well or is no longer appealing. Each person develops ways to meet their own needs and wants and desires — and ways to change; ways to live the best life they can at every age and stage. As family and friends and helpers we support them on this journey. Together, and in unexpected ways, we grow. That is what is truly special about special needs.
Special Needs Lawyer, Terry Garrett, is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and is active in the Texas and Austin Bar Associations. She graduated with honors from Cornell University. She was on the Dean’s List at Wharton Business School. She earned her J.D. at Columbia Law School, receiving the Parker Award and a Mellon Fellowship.
She assists families of people with special needs, people planning for the retirement years and people administering estates.