Colorado Family's Story Illustrates the Need for Special Needs Planning

When Geri Chestor's son Richard was an infant he hated to be held, and as a child his language skills lagged far behind those of his peers. Most parents these days know that these are two key indicators of autism, but at the time Richard was born, more than 40 years ago, doctors hardly knew what autism was. Information about the condition was so limited and unclear that one leading autism specialist actually posited that the disorder was caused by indifferent mothering.

Ms. Chestor's decades-long quest to educate and care for her son despite a succession of seemingly insurmountable obstacles is the focus of a recent profile in the Denver Post. The story follows Ms. Chestor as she faced down ignorance, fought the state for funds to pay for Richard's private education, and eventually established a group of residences for adults with special needs.

This tale of perseverance is only half of the story, however. After working for years to make sure that Richard is taken care of, Ms. Chestor has to plan for his future in case something happens to her. In the past, this was not as much of an issue because children with special needs were either not expected to live for a long time or were shuttered away in institutions. But as the article points out, thanks to people like Ms. Chestor, people with special needs are living much longer and they are staying in the community, which means that parents have to plan well in advance for the inevitable day when they will be unable to continue caring for their aging children. A state official calls it a "demographic time bomb."

If you are faced with an aging child with special needs and don't know what your options are, your best bet is always going to be an in-depth conversation with a qualified special needs planner.

Article Last Modified: 07/05/2011