Susan's Blog

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Autism Mommy Swami #13: A Home For My Son

Dear Swami,

Autism dad, me, B, has consulted with attorneys and insurance pros for help with suggestions for how to set up a house, the tax and liability issues, for my son with autism. They really haven’t come up with anything. Any advice before I impulsively buy a house and post flyers for staffing it?


Dear B,

I take it that you are not coming to the Swami for matters fiduciary, financial, or otherwise legal & final. The Swami only knows about issues intuitive, soul searches, and heart murmurs. While I can’t advise you about whether to buy a house for your son, set up a special needs trust, get guardianship, I can plumb the question of how to do what you need to do.

I have lived through a lot and gotten to know many people along the way, so many parents who, like you and me, struggle with the right answer. The sooner we all realize that there are few single solutions, the better off we are. Unfortunately, parenting is not a science, nor an art, but a big sloppy cooking session, with only a few crappy implements picked up at other people’s yard sales. Sometimes the meal you make is great; sometimes it is godawful, but you just keep cooking because you gotta eat, and you must nourish others.  But don’t expect rave reviews.

Anyway, it sounds like you really want to buy a home for your son, because you ask, what is to stop me from impulsively buying a house…? Impulse is an important feeling. Impulse is Intuition’s embarrassing sibling.  But what you can learn from impulse is that there is something you want desperately. You want your son’s future to be secured in every way it can be. And because none of us knows what services and supports — if any — will be available in our children’s futures, we all want to do whatever we can given that reality.

I don’t know you or your financial situation, but I do know that you kind of want to provide a tangible shelter for your son. I know two other families who had the means to do this, and even though it came with many headaches, they do not yet regret it.  The Swami herself wishes she could buy Nat his own place, to share with friends and staff, but that is not possible at this time.

For many of us, the more we can control, the better. If you know this about yourself, why not pursue what it means? You clearly have attorneys and financial advisers and special needs experts to steer you through the legal and financial minutiae. I can’t do that. But I think what you want from me is validation as the dad, permission to do what you think is best.  In the end, the parent makes his best decision, based on honest research and soul search, based on understanding the child himself and what he wants and needs, and what he, the parent, is capable of pursuing.

Don’t do anything that would jeopardize your son’s eligibility, but do everything that you believe will help him survive and thrive.





1 comment

I like Benjamin Franklin’s weighted pro/con list. Each item is not only considered as a pro or con, but is given weight according to its importance. You can google it.

Input from others is important to me, otherwise I tend to load the list so that it clearly points at what I wanted in the first place.

Many times a weighted list has provided me with answers I didn’t expect and directions I had not considered.

— added by Janet Bowser on Thursday, July 12, 2012 at 7:10 am