The Power of Love: Happy 60th Ron!

Posted by Cynthia Haddad on Thu, Feb 14, 2019 @ 06:00 AM

The Special Needs Financial Planning Team John Nadworny, CFP, CTFA | Cynthia Haddad, CFP | Alexandria Nadworny, CFP,  CTFA

We are committed to presenting complimentary educational workshops to  organizations and parent groups. We are currently booking presentations for the Spring 2019 season. Please click here to email Alex Nadworny or call 781-756-1804 . 

 

The Power of Love: Happy 60th Ron!

By Cynthia Haddad

Happy 60th RonFor my brother Ron, it has always been about his birthday. Every summer of my adult life, the phone calls would begin with “Are you getting ready for my birthday?”. It would be Ron calling, giddy with excitement, wanting to talk about the plans for his upcoming birthday. The thing is, his birthday is on January 6th.

After telling him how excited I am about plans for his birthday, I remind him that it is my birthday coming up next in August, and then my children in November and then our brother Steve’s is in December, and THEN it will be his birthday, 6 days after the New Year.

Ron has always been, and will always be, “the special one” in our family. This past January was his 60th birthday and we had a big party to celebrate this milestone. It was a surprise party and Ron had a great, great time – especially after he recovered from the shock of it all!

Ron&parentsBeing with him on his 60th birthday, immersed in the warmth of family and friends and seeing the extraordinary love my parents have for Ron, I am overwhelmed with gratitude.

While they are getting up there in age, their joy and focus on Ron, even after celebrating 60 birthdays together, is so fresh and true; Ron will never grow old in their eyes.  

 

Looking Back…

Celebrating Ron’s 60th was also a time for me to reflect back on my parent’s love and devotion to Ron since we were young; a time when there were no entitlements for children with disabilities. 

After being told her son was “not educable”, my Mom, as one from a generation of pioneering parents, advocated for her son’s education even though there was no basis for her to do so. She was empowered because she believed in Ron and she knew what he had inside of him.

In 1972, Massachusetts passed landmark legislation, known as Chapter 766, guaranteeing all children the right to a free and appropriate public education. Without this law, coupled with my mother’s advocacy efforts, Ron would have never achieved so much, including:

  • Being one of the first people with special needs to graduate from Minute Man Tech.
  • Representing Massachusetts in the International Special Olympics.
  • Having been gainfully employed after high school throughout his life.
  • Living outside the family home, and so much more.

Ron is now a viable part of our society; he works, has friends, goes on trips, lives in an apartment with supports, and is a fully participating member of our family.

Today…

We cannot even imagine what it was like for parents of children Ron’s age and older with special needs.  At that time, the state’s view was that children with disabilities should be kept in an institution.  Parents were told their child would most likely never work or be a part of the community, and other negative stories of a very difficult life ahead. My mother knew parents who literally had their daughter living in a closet in order to protect her from being removed from their family and sent to an institution. 

We’ve come a long way. Thanks to the pioneering parents and to the countless parents and advocates who still passionately fight for children to receive needed supports and believe they should be allowed an opportunity to live a full and a meaningful life in the community.

Tomorrow…

Ron & cindy

My parents are my heroes. The power of their love for Ron is beyond what I can describe; they have put everything aside to care for and champion him his entire life. As devoted as I am to Ron, I must admit that I do not have the same degree of love for him that my parents do. He is my brother and I am not expected to; I have my husband and children to focus on. 

How do I care for him through the ups, downs and every days without losing myself in the middle?  How do I honor my parents and pass that intense love forward from generation to generation?

 I have found my answer in knowing my limits, what my capacity is and when I need to ask for help from my brothers, my cousins, my friends, my colleagues, and professionals. I know we can never replace our parents’ love but we can surround Ron with a network of family, friends, staff and community who care.

Ron is not just “the special one”, he is the very much loved one by many!

 Now…

I just came from seeing my brother, Ron, and he is very excited… about turning 61 next January!

A very Happy Valentine’s Day to my loving family!
To my parents, my husband and children, and all three of my brothers…
I thank you for the power of your love.

the Sibs

 

Tags: parents of people with disabilities, siblings

A Talk with My Parents Around Our Holiday Table

Posted by Alex Nadworny on Fri, Dec 14, 2018 @ 06:30 AM

A Talk with My Parents Around Our Holiday Table

A Sibling's Story: Thanksgiving, 2012

by Alex Nadworny

thanksgiving pies_pexels-photo-1634062

 

It was the first Thanksgiving in a long time where it was just the five of us: Ben, me, Dad, Mom and James, around the table. We gave thanks for all we had and the feasting began.  We ate and talked and laughed until we were as stuffed as Thanksgiving turkeys ourselves. We settled into post-dinner conversation and everyone was relaxed and in a great mood, when I heard myself say to my parents, “Where will James live when you are gone?”

Ben & jamesImmediately Ben replied, “He’s living with me.”

To which I said, “No, with me.”

To which my Dad said, “No way he’s living with either of you!”

This question had been on my mind. I loved James and would do anything for him, but I didn’t know exactly what being his caregiver would entail and how it would impact my life.  I have never been concerned about the planning for my brother; this was a given as my Dad is a professional financial planner and my Mom is an advocate and support group leader. But no one had ever asked me what I wanted for James.

 I knew my parents were handling things from a big picture perspective, like building a home for James, but I wanted to know more about what was involved with supporting his day-to-day life.  My Mom kept a detailed schedule of James’ activities but there was something missing: the many things James required, big and small, that she and my Dad did every day.

Alex & james_cropped Our family always talked about everything and I felt comfortable asking my parents anything; there were never any communication barriers. In this case, it was harder for my parents to hear this question than it was for me to ask it.  While they had a plan all mapped out in their minds, they had avoided talking with Ben and me about our future roles in James’ life. Like many parents, they assumed that caring for James would place a burden upon us and they were not ready to have that conversation. I felt differently; I wanted to know what the plan was and to be empowered to shape my role in James’ life.

 In many families, adult children who have a sibling with special needs have their own lives and for varying reasons, really don’t want to be involved in a hands-on manner; they may live a distance away, have family obligations of their own and/or a demanding career. Still, talking about the who, what, and where of the future support plans for their sibling is an essential conversation to have. A sibling’s expectation does not need to be that they will be a caregiver or have to change their life.  It is a wonderful role to be just a brother or sister. 

 The truth is that while every family is different, this conversation always needs to happen. This holiday season, if the atmosphere is right, and you know what you want to say, respectfully start talking! 

Download our Holiday Tips for Family Talks here 

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any specific individuals. 

 

Tags: parents of people with disabilities, siblings, guardianship, families with special needs, planning for a future after parents are gone

Caring for Caregivers

Posted by Patty Manko on Thu, Jul 31, 2014 @ 12:59 PM

Screen Shot 2014 07 31 at 1.36.26 PM resized 600All parents endure stress, but studies show that parents of children with developmental disabilities, like autism, experience depression and anxiety far more often. Struggling to obtain crucial support services, the financial strain of paying for various therapies, the relentless worry over everything from wandering to the future — all of it can be overwhelming.1

The results of a new study showing the positive impact of intervention programs run by mothers of children with disabilities for mothers of children with disabilities was published in Pediatrics this week.  Participants experienced improvements in mental health, sleep and overall life satisfaction and showed less dysfunctional parent-child interactions.

Taking care of this parent population is a critically important issue. As the lead author of the study, Elisabeth Dykens, Ph.D., points out, " with the high prevalence of developmental disabilities – about one in five children – and the fact that most adult children with intellectual disabilities remain at home with aging parents, we have a looming public health problem on our hands.” 2

One of the key differentiators of this experiment was that it was targeted to adults, not their children, and it was not focused on sharpening parenting skills. Instead, parents learned ways to tackle their distress as problems arise. The idea is to stop wasting energy resisting the way life is.1

 

1 http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/29/health/when-the-caregivers-need-healing.html?src=me 

2- http://news.vanderbilt.edu/2014/07/mothers-of-children-with-autism-benefit-from-stress-reduction-intervention-study/ 

Tags: parents of people with disabilities, siblings

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.
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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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autism3 resized 600

 

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

Planning for a Child with Special Needs in Divorce

Posted by Patty Manko on Mon, Sep 09, 2013 @ 04:04 PM

divorce and special needs child resized 600Finding a fair and equitable agreement when parties are divorcing is often a challenge. When parents of a child with special needs separate and divorce, the challenge is magnified. Based upon both our personal and professional experience, it is critical to bring parents into agreement on a plan that does not take sides, but focuses on representing the needs of their child.

This means planning for families with unique sets of circumstances. We can help. 

  • Based upon our understanding of the obstacles children with special needs may have in growing up, we can describe and define the needs of the child.
  • Based upon the child’s unique situation, we can quantify the amount of financial support necessary to meet these needs, for the short- and long-term.
  • We will connecting parents, when interested, with various agencies that provide support services.
  • We inform parents about available government programs.
Importantly, we not only define the need but can work with the parties to realistically plan and make it achievable.

 We welcome an opportunity to discuss how our services can help in cases of divorce  and provide the best plan for a child’s lifetime supports.  As a basic resource not customized for families of individuals with special needs, download the pre-divorce checklist below.

Download our Pre-Divorce Planning Checklist

Tags: Special Needs Financial Planning, supports for special needs, siblings, Divorce, Government Benefits, special needs Divorce

Siblings and a Letter of Intent

Posted by Patricia Manko on Thu, Nov 08, 2012 @ 05:18 PM


describe the imageParents should make a point to complete the Letter of Intent to document the important aspects of your child’s life. Share it with the future caretakers today, including siblings and make it a living document.  Don’t just leave it for them after you are gone.

 Determining Roles for Siblings to Play

 A pragmatic approach is an effective means to define a role for siblings. This approach can utilize assigning defined responsibilities.

Responsibilities may be shared.  Tasks and roles may be shared, which will allow a sibling to contribute without feeling overwhelmed that they have to be the ” everything” or “IT” person in the family.

Partner with a professional. Siblings can partner with experienced special needs planning professionals to help them provide the best solutions for their brother or sister.

describe the imageSome functional roles siblings may play:

Caregiver, Guardian

Health care proxy, Power of attorney,

Conservator, Trustee, Trust advisor

 Investment manager, Tax preparer,

 Bookkeeper to help pay bills,

 Representative payee for  SSI

  Advocate

                  Just be a brother  or sister!

For more information, click below to attend a presentation of No Sibling Left Behind or Planning is a Family Affair

Contact us for  further information

 

 

Tags: siblings, Letter of Intent, friendship, guardianship, special needs Letter of Intent