Cost of Raising a Child with Disabilities

Recently a graphic came across my desk depicting the cost of raising a child birth to age 18. And while I found it interesting, I couldn’t help think about how this is altered for a family who is raising a child with disabilities. Allow me to explain.

A family raising a child with a disability pays more for education because they are paying for many therapeutic services out of pocket, many times to the tune of $90-$140 per hour. Babysitters tend to be more expensive as well, especially for those of us who have children who have medical needs and require someone with medical training to care for our child when we need them. For me, this runs anywhere from $10-$20 per hour. Healthcare is more expensive too as these children tend to have more doctor and therapy visits and see several specialists. This means more co-pays. Many children are also in need of special healthcare such as homeopathic medicine, chinese methodologies, and chiropractic care.

Everyday items that most would not think of tend to be higher in expense too. For many of us, housing can be more. My child utilizes a wheelchair and so we need wheelchair accessible housing which tends to be more in the rental market. Few of us in the middle or lower class can afford homes because we are spending so much every month on other expenses for our child. Clothing can be more expensive too. My child is incontinent and will quite often leak through his diaper. He will typically go through 2-3 pairs of pants and shirts each day. This means that his wardrobe needs to be at least twice the size of a typical child. Many of my clients are extremely hard on their clothing causing their parents to replace items faster than they would for a typical child.

For many of us, transportation cost can be higher as well. Wheelchair accessible vans cost dramatically more than vans that are not accessible. And vans tend to cost more than cars. They also do not get as good of gas mileage, so gas cost goes up too.

Food costs is one area where it may or may not be more expensive. Some children are not able to eat or have a liquid diet that their health insurance will cover. Our insurance does not cover the cost of the nutritional beverages that primarily sustain my son. Many children with special needs are picky eaters and will go through phases where they will only eat one thing, which can raise or lower food cost. So, groceries may or may not be an increased cost for a family. For my family, they are just slightly higher.

Another area where it may or may not be more expensive is that of toys. My son has had the same favorite toys for nine years with very few additions. So, our toy cost is lower. However, it also makes him very difficult to buy presents for! Many families though have a child who is destructive to their toys and they need to replace them more often. Or, parents will buy new toys often in an attempt to find a few that their child will interact with appropriately. In these cases, toy cost can be higher.

All in all, it is more expensive to raise a child with special needs than it is to raise a typical child. And, contrary to popular belief, we parents do not receive an extra tax break. Also, many of us do not qualify for state or federal assistance with these costs. My child doesn’t.

Regardless of the added expense, there are amazing benefits of having a child with a disability! I wouldn’t change mine a bit and he’s worth every penny!!! Please reply to this post below and let me know what you think. What is this experience for you?

Here’s the link to the graphic:

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