Part II - Whoa! My Child Isn't the Only One Getting Older!!

Posted by Haddad Nadworny on Sat, Apr 27, 2019 @ 07:00 AM

The Special Needs Financial Planning Team at Affinia Financial Group John Nadworny, CFP, CTFA | Cynthia Haddad, CFP, ChSNC | Alexandria Nadworny,  CFP, CTFAVisit our NEW Interactive Workshops Calendar

This blog kicks off a series illustrating a step-by-step approach to planning for the care of your adult child with special needs. Read Part I. 

 Part II - Figuring Out the Next Steps

Adjusting Expectations - in a Good Way!

Sarah had a lot to think about but being sidelined had allowed her to step outside her daily life and see things she had been too busy to notice. While she was injured, Thomas had stepped up to help in so many ways. She had always viewed Thomas and their family life through the lens of his dual diagnosis of developmental disabilities and autism. While he had always had household chores, it had never occurred to her to ask him to do more; things like carry the laundry baskets to and from the basement, bring in the mail, and clear the front walk of newly fallen snow. With her direction and support, he was able to unpack and put the groceries from the PeaPod delivery away.

Sometimes it’s the small things that add up to big changes.  In thinking about his future living arrangements, Sarah realized she needed to consider both Thomas' expectations and her own.  She had some thinking to do about some very big questions.

Thomas Sarah
What are his capabilities and contributions to the household?

Was she ready to think about, talk about and plan for Thomas to live elsewhere?

What are his thoughts and preferences? 

Was she ready to build a network of people who would care about Thomas and be sure he is supported in his life?

heart-clip-art-heart_Clipart_FreeThe Letter of Intent – The Details of Daily Living.

 As a very important first step, we suggested Sarah begin filling out a Letter of Intent, the “Who, What, Where, When, and How” of Thomas’ life. With the information from the Letter of Intent as a starting point,  we would then work together to create the next level of Special Needs Planning; creating a Team to Carry On. 

LOI Parents Guide


Sarah and Thomas’ Team to Carry On

A Team to Carry On is a  plan for Thomas’ life when Sarah is gone or can no longer do all that she does today. Planning for a Team to Carry On is an evolving process, and we will be there to advise you every step of the way. There will be three basic steps:

  1. Tie together all of the Five Factors of Special Needs Planning involved in planning for Thomas’ future:
    1. Five Factors JPEG LogoLegal
    2. Family & Support
    3. Government Benefits
    4. Financial
    5. And last, but not least, Emotional.
  2. Discuss who might step in to take on Sarah’s many roles. Think about family, friends, community and professionals and their ability to take on responsibility in the future.  There are roles for people to play both big and small and as Sarah had experienced, the small things can make a big difference.
    • As an example, Sarah’s next door neighbor, who was very fond of Thomas, had helped be the liaison with transportation for Thomas to and from work for the few weeks she was incapacitated. Might this neighbor be someone to take Thomas to a baseball game each year?
  3. Communicate with and begin to involve the people on your Team in Thomas’ life today.
    • As an example, we have several clients who have begun bringing their adult child’s siblings to our planning meetings. There are many varied  roles a sibling may take on; everything from the responsibilities of a Guardian to just being there as a brother or sister.
    • Include non-siblings and others– cousins, aunts, uncles, neighbors and professionals to our planning meeting to let them know they are part of the child’s team.

 Read more about A Team to Carry On

Read Part III - It's the 4th of July and My Child isn't the Only One who's Getting Older

Tags: autism, caregivers for special needs, special needs Letter of Intent, A Team to Carry On, autism and employment, Aging Caregiver, developmental disabilities

2017 Resource Guide for Adults with Autism in Massachusetts

Posted by Patty Manko on Thu, Mar 09, 2017 @ 02:38 PM

The Special Needs Financial Planning Team  Cynthia Haddad, CFP | John  Nadworny, CFP | Alexandria Nadworny, CFP  We are committed to offering educational workshops to organizations and parent  groups.  Please call Alex or click here to attend a workshop or discuss a presentation  to your group.

Workshops Calendar


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The Massachusetts Department of Develpmental Services, Northeast Region, has put together a comprehensive guide for adults with autism.  Included are DDS Eligibility, Education, Employment, Housing Resources, Self-Advocacy… and much more!

Download the report here: DDS Northeast Region, Adult Autism Resource Guide, 2017 .


Tags: autism

In the News: Employment for People with Autism

Posted by Patty Manko on Thu, Apr 09, 2015 @ 06:19 PM


Microsoft Launches Pilot Program to Hire People With Autism

Excerpt from Mary Ellen Smith, Corporate Vice President, Worldwide Operations, Microsoft 

world_autism_dayIn honor of World Autism Awareness Day, Thursday, I had the privilege to attend and speak at an event held at the United Nations in New York City, where the theme was “Autism, The Employment Advantage.”

This theme resonates with me on two levels.

First, as a parent. I am the proud mom of Shawn, now 19, diagnosed with autism when he was four years old. Secondly, as a proud executive at Microsoft. A company that believes strongly in diversity.

This week, we announced another exciting effort, a new pilot program with Specialisterne, focused on hiring people with autism for full-time, Redmond-based Microsoft positions. It’s early days but we’re excited to get going and we know we’ll learn a lot along the way. 

Our effort goes beyond autism. We are passionate about hiring individuals of all disabilities and we believe with them, we can create, support, and build great products and services. Our customers are diverse and we need to be as well.  Candidates interested in our pilot program can email resumes to


From NationSwell:

Meet the Gutsy Dad That Started a Car Wash to Help His Son Find Purpose

Individuals with autism are an advantage for this Florida business.

Most car washes are filled with less-than-enthusiastic workers. But in Parkland, Fla., there’s a place to clean your car where the employees — 80 percent of which are along the autism spectrum — are extremely excited about their daily responsibilities, making the turnover rate is almost non-existent.

Started by the father-and-son team of John and Tom D’Eri, Rising Tide Car Wash gives their son and brother, Andrew, who was identified as an autistic individual at the age of three, and its other employees the chance to lead a fulfilling life.

Before the car wash opened, John was a successful entrepreneur, while Tom, a recent college grad, worked as a consultant. At the time, they lived in the greater New York City area, as did Andrew (who resided with his mother, Donna D’Eri). Andrew was approaching the age of 22, a milestone known in the autism community as “falling off the cliff,” a term derived from the fact that virtually all government support expires when an individual with autism reaches what is typically college-graduate age. Faced with extremely limited employment opportunities, many of these individuals stay at home and begin to regress because they have little in the way of meaningful activities.

The D’Eri family decided that wasn’t going to happen to Andrew. John and Tom formed CanDo Business Ventures in 2011, a nonprofit focused on finding scalable businesses that could employ people with autism. After much research, they identified the car wash industry as a good match for those with autism since they’re more likely to be engaged by detailed, repetitive processes than those not on the spectrum. A car wash also has the advantage of being open to the public, allowing patrons to witness the value of workers on the spectrum.

“It’s a really tangible service,” says Tom. “So, you leave a car wash and you understand if it’s clean, or if it’s not. You’re gonna see, ‘oh wow, these guys did a great job, oh hey, all these guys have autism.’”

In 2012, the entire family moved from New York to the greater Miami area to take over a struggling car wash, and on April 1, 2013, Rising Tide Car Wash opened for business. It’s a for-profit company, financed by the personal assets amassed by John’s earlier business ventures; no federal or state grants or subsidies have been received. Employees are found through community partners, such as the Broward County School District and the Center for Autism & Related Disabilities.

Although altruistic in their mission, the D’Eri family prefers to describe individuals on the spectrum as an untapped resource versus people with a disability. John describes Rising Tide as a “booming success” and speaks of plans to expand to additional locations in the coming years. Currently, Rising Tide employs 35 individuals on the spectrum. With the goal of three locations by 2016, John believes that the company will eventually employ more than 150 individuals with autism.

Andrew and the other employees on the spectrum have grown in confidence and their desire to be social has increased. Plus, they’re now part of a larger community of support.

“We see what Andrew’s life is going to be,” says Tom. “We see that he’s going to have a community that’s going to take care of him. And that takes a whole load of stress off the family.”


Tags: autism, autism and employment

Fifteen Tips for Families of People with Autism

Posted by Patty Manko on Thu, Apr 03, 2014 @ 04:32 PM

Fifteen Tips for Your Family

describe the imagefrom Autism speaks

As a result of her work with many families who deal so gracefully with the challenges of autism, Family Therapist, Kathryn Smerling, Ph.D., offers these five tips for parents, five for siblings and five for extended family members:

5 Tips for Parents

Learn to be the best advocate you can be for your child. Be informed. Take advantage of all the services that are available to you in your community. You will meet practitioners and providers who can educate you and help you. You will gather great strength from the people you meet.

Don't push your feelings away. Talk about them. You may feel both ambivalent and angry. Those are emotions to be expected. It's OK to feel conflicting emotions. Try to direct your anger towards the disorder and not towards your loved ones. When you find yourself arguing with your spouse over an autism related issue, try to remember that this topic is painful for both of you; and be careful not to get mad at each other when it really is the autism that has you so upset and angry.

Try to have some semblance of an adult life. Be careful to not let autism consume every waking hour of your life. Spend quality time with your typically developing children and your spouse, and refrain from constantly talking about autism. Everyone in your family needs support, and to be happy despite the circumstances.

Appreciate the small victories your child may achieve. Love your child and take great pride in each small accomplishment. Focus on what they can do instead of making comparisons with a typically developing child. Love them for who they are rather than what they should be.

Get involved with the Autism community. Don't underestimate the power of “community”. You may be the captain of your team, but you can't do everything yourself. Make friends with other parents who have children with autism. By meeting other parents you will have the support of families who understand your day to day challenges. Getting involved with autism advocacy is empowering and productive. You will be doing something for yourself as well as your child by being proactive.

5 Tips for Brothers & Sisters

Remember that you are not alone! Every family is confronted with life's challenges… and yes, autism is challenging… but, if you look closely, nearly everyone has something difficult to face in their families.

Be proud of your brother or sister. Learn to talk about autism and be open and comfortable describing the disorder to others. If you are comfortable with the topic…they will be comfortable too. If you are embarrassed by your brother or sister, your friends will sense this and it will make it awkward for them. If you talk openly to your friends about autism, they will become comfortable. But, like everyone else, sometimes you will love your brother or sister, and sometimes you will hate them. It's okay to feel your feelings. And, often it's easier when you have a professional counselor to help you understand them – someone special who is here just for you! Love your brother or sister the way they are.

While it is OK to be sad that you have a brother or sister affected by autism it doesn't help to be upset and angry for extended periods of time. Your anger doesn't change the situation; it only makes you unhappier. Remember your Mom and Dad may have those feelings too.

Spend time with your Mom and Dad alone. Doing things together as a family with and without your brother or sister strengthens your family bond. It's OK for you to want alone time. Having a family member with autism can often be very time consuming, and attention grabbing. You need to feel important too. Remember, even if your brother or sister didn't have autism, you would still need alone time with Mom and Dad.

Find an activity you can do with your brother or sister. You will find it rewarding to connect with your brother or sister, even if it is just putting a simple puzzle together. No matter how impaired they may be, doing something together creates a closeness. They will look forward to these shared activities and greet you with a special smile.

Download  our  Sib Tips

5 Tips for Grandparents and Extended Family

Family members have a lot to offer. Each family member is able to offer the things they have learned to do best over time. Ask how you can be helpful to your family.
Your efforts will be appreciated whether it means taking care of the child so that the parents can go out to dinner, or raising money for the special school that helps your family's child. Organize a lunch, a theatre benefit, a carnival, or a card game. It will warm your family's hearts to know that you are pitching in to create support and closeness.

Seek out your own support. If you find yourself having a difficult time accepting and dealing with the fact that your loved one has autism, seek out your own support. Your family may not be able to provide you with that kind of support so you must be considerate and look elsewhere. In this way you can be stronger for them, helping with the many challenges they face.

Be open and honest about the disorder. The more you talk about the matter, the better you will feel. Your friends and family can become your support system…but only if you share your thoughts with them. It may be hard to talk about it at first, but as time goes on it will be easier. In the end your experience with autism will end up teaching you and your family profound life lessons.

Put judgment aside. Consider your family's feelings and be supportive. Respect the decisions they make for their child with autism. They are working very hard to explore and research all options, and are typically coming to well thought out conclusions. Try not to compare children (this goes for typically developing kids as well). Children with autism can be brought up to achieve their personal best.

Learn more about Autism. It affects people of all social and economic standing. There is promising research, with many possibilities for the future. Share that sense of hope with your family while educating yourself about the best ways to help manage this disorder.

Carve out special time for each child. You can enjoy special moments with both typically developing family members and the family member with autism. Yes, they may be different but both children look forward to spending time with you. Children with autism thrive on routines, so find one thing that you can do together that is structured, even if it is simply going to a park for fifteen minutes. If you go to the same park every week, chances are over time that activity will become easier and easier…it just takes time and patience. If you are having a difficult time trying to determine what you can do, ask your family. They will sincerely appreciate the effort that you are making.

Read Paying for Finn, a special needs child , an article from Money Magazine profiling a family with autistic child. John Nadworny applied his 20 years of experience in financial planning and knowledge of the costs  of a child with a disability and walked the Howe family through a process to help them reach their goals.

Tags: autism

Our SibTips Ebook and Resources for Siblings

Posted by Patty Manko on Thu, Jan 16, 2014 @ 01:50 PM

Introducing our Ebook:

SibTips: Vocabulary and Useful Tips for Siblings by Cynthia Haddad, CFP & Alex Nadworny, CFP

describe the imageCindy and Alex would like to share a glossary of terms they learned over their many years of providing Special Needs Financial Planning to families. As siblings, they gathered some helpful tips to share and have included them as a SibTip with their respective term. Cindy and Alex also included a directory of terms classified by our Five Factors of Special Needs Planning. 

Download  our  Sib Tips


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From the Department of Rehabilitation Services and Bureau of Education and Services for the Blind-

Planning for the Future:

Setting Up Lifelong Supports for your Child

Saturday, April 5, 2014  10:00-3:30

  • A parent program on creating lifetime supports for your child. Presented by individuals with expertise in this field (including our Cindy Haddad!).
  • Topics include: guardianship, financial planning, special needs trusts, wills, Medicaid, sibling involvement and social security.
Click here for the informational flyer and registration form.

describe the imageFrom the Sibling Support Project-

The Sibling Support Project Mission: We believe that disabilities, illness, and mental health issues affect the lives of all family members.  Consequently, we want to increase the peer support and information opportunities for brothers and sisters of people with special needs and to increase parents' and providers' understanding of sibling issues.

Click here to access their list of sibling related books.


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For families of individuals with autism, Days of Whine and Rose has a reading list specifically for helping siblings understand autism.  Click here to access the list.



Tags: autism, siblings

Special Needs Financial Planning Newsletter

Posted by Patricia Manko on Wed, Oct 24, 2012 @ 06:08 PM

Click on the icon below to download our October newsletter featuring

  • Planning is a Family Affair: Coming of Age as a Brother or Sister of a Person with Disabilities
  • Our new, exclusive SNFP Housing Checklist
  • Tips to help people with autism and their families have happy holidays

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Tags: Housing, Special Needs Financial Planning, autism

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