Sunday, July 7, 2019

Let's Talk Money

One of the things that comes with having a loved one with special needs is money.  Often the supports they need are different from the general public and of course those things that are not the norm usually cost extra.

It is similar to someone who decides to go on an organic foods only bills likely skyrocket.  The same could occur for your loved one.  Do they need specialized nursing care, special diet, or incontinent supplies?  Maybe they need a wheelchair or 24/7 supervision?  These things are all reality and need to be considered when making a budget for your family member.  

It is very important to remember to plan and budget as you will likely need things that may be expensive or difficult to find.  Seek government assistance programs if your area has them.  In Ontario there are several such as OSDP, OAS, Passport funding, March of Dimes etc.  Reach out to as many as you can for anything specialized that you need.  Make sure to plan for the future and begin to save early!  If you think your loved one will require nursing care then plan a budget for it.

And don't forget to think about his/her future.  If they are still young then consider a retirement savings geared to their specialized needs.  In Ontario there is the Hensen Trust or consider an RDSP (Registered Disability Savings Plan) where the government will contribute along with your child/family member's contributions.  This will ensure that if you are no longer around when they are older, that they have financial supports in place.  Check your area if you haven't yet and see what is out there.  

One tip though is to look deep for financial service supports as they can be hard to find and not all doctors, nursing homes, schools etc will be fully aware of what is actually out there.  Check with other families as well who may be going through the same thing as they may have additional resources that you may not have come across yet. 

In the end be aware of the funds your loved one has now but also plan for the future.

This is such a big topic and I will write more about it again soon.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Planning for a big event

I remember when my son was younger (around 4 or 5 years old) and we had planned to go to a cottage where there would be a dinner event.  My son struggled with his sensory needs more back then so just hopping in the car for a 7 hour drive to an unfamiliar cottage and spending one of the evenings at a function with a bunch of strangers was not something that was easy to plan for.

I wondered how he would behave and how he might react to the number of people crammed into the cottage for the dinner and what I would need to pack.  I had to plan for a long car ride as well.  Although it was not easy, I managed to gather the toys/social story tools, and sensory items needed.  He did struggle a bit, but with lots of support and toys to keep him pre-occupied we made it though the evening with only one minor meltdown.  I had also given everyone the heads up that he may need things to do or to go outside and that he may have to use his sensory items to help him through.  He didn't do well with the volume in the room either so he needed to have a quiet place to go.  I had spent a long time planning and wished that there was someone to turn to to assist me with the chaos of planning and packing....

Now in my coaching practice, I assist families with these types of things...have support in understanding what we need to make it through an event with someone who may struggle with the noise, new surroundings, new people is so important as it not only helps the one with the needs, but you as the caregiver too.  I also understand the need to keep it short so I do not ask my clients to spend huge amounts of time with me on this...we get to the point and have them ready as soon as possible.  Having gone through these types of situations myself has helped me see a clearer picture of what others need.

My children are teens now and when we go to events, we still plan for some space should it get loud, items to keep them busy and support from me when they feel overwhelmed.  It took a lot of years but we are finally getting to a point that travelling to larger family events goes much smoother for all of us..

For more information on my coaching around this click here.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Email or Comment

Email of Comment:

As I write my tid bits and tips on being a part of a unique family with unique support needs, I want to make sure people know that I do not mind responding to any questions at all.  I will always post my email at the end of my posts but feel free to also post a comment. I will also certainly take any suggestions for posts should you have any.  I have so much to share but if there is something out there that someone would like me to post about, just let me know and I will be more than happy to share my knowledge!

When posting comments, I just ask that people be mindful of those reading for support and ask that no negative comments be mentioned.

As I do some unique coaching in this area, I am always will to help out, as well should your find that you have more questions than I am answering.  Feel free to reach out any time


Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Start Early...Plan Ahead

Start Early.....Plan Ahead

This is advice I give a lot when someone is asking about services.  No matter what you are looking for; when you are looking for unique supports and services for your loved ones, you need to start early.

Not only can the process take many years in some parts of the world, but life can change in an instant and you are left without a solution you need right away.  If you have a child that is diagnosed with a developmental or physical disability or other diagnosis that will be long term, start investigating as you as you find out.  The steps can vary depending on your child's needs and support requirements, but start looking into every aspect of service as soon as possible.  The more you are armed with in terms of knowledge and supports you can put in place early, the less stressed you will be.

The same can go for your child with special or unique support needs who is graduating from school.  They have likely spent the majority of their days in school throughout their life and you need to be preparing well in advance for what happens after school.  This can be a very stressful transition for the person and the family.  Where do they go?  What do they need? Who will take care of them?  Get these answers well in advance (and in advance, I mean a couple years, not a couple weeks).  This life transition can be a difficult one as well as the person with the unique needs will be facing a world that is unknown to them.  Preparing in advance will help you prepare them for what comes next.

What about an adult supporting an aging parent?  Let's say your parent has recently been diagnosed with dementia but as of today it is the early stages of the disease and your parent is still able to make all their own choices and live independently  For now things seem great, but dementia can be slow for a while then quickly progress.  Being prepared for this while your loved one is able to make their  own decisions is important.  How do they want to live out their life, where do they wish to live?  What services do they want?  Do they have their end of life details such as a will organized?  All these things can be done while your parent is still in good health and able to make these decisions.  This may not be the case if the aging parent has a stroke or heart attack that was not expected but there are still some things that can be planned for such as end of life care, financial planning, wills etc.

For everyone on the planet, we do not know how long we will live and be present but for some, we may know that their life expectancy is different from mine or yours or that they will not develop quite the same as someone else their age.  It is so important to be informed and start early!  It is never to early to ask the questions you may have and be prepared for what is to come.


Friday, June 7, 2019

The First Step in Seeking Support is Knowing What You Actually Need

From time to time throughout my career I would have families either call or come in and ask about the services of the agency I am working at and how do they get into service.  Well depending on where you live, what services you are looking for and how picky you are, you may be able to acquire services right away or you may have to wait years and go through a lot of meetings and red tape to get there.

I work in Ontario in a developmental service agency and there is a process to acquiring services.  Many folks who do call or come in don't know that until they are advised on the steps to take.  Some are fine with the process while others are at the end of their rope and frustrated that there is a process. The important thing is getting the information to the families in need and providing them with clear guidelines as to how to start the process of accessing the services they need.

So what if you are that family member?  Where do you even find out about services that you may need for your loved one?  Well there are a few things I can share as advice that I have provided over the years in both my full time and coaching positions so thought this would be a great platform to share that.  Giving you the tools to support your loved one.

My suggestions will be geared to anyone looking for supports for their child with special needs or those with loved ones needing mental health support or even those with aging parents who need support beyond what you can give at home.

First and foremost make sure to have a chat with the family doctor or other specialists.  You might be surprised at what they know and what information they actually have if you are persistent.  But also be very clear on what you are looking for.  If you are not clear on the help you need then they may not be able to provide you with helpful information.

My tip of the day is also a tool I created for my coaching practice.  It is used for those who are finding it challenging on knowing what services they actually need and what to ask when they are reaching out for supports. It is a universal tool and, therefore, can be used by anyone anywhere. I share this with my clients and anyone seeking additional supports with this can certainly reach out to me.  The first part of my tool is a page where you list all the current needs of the person needing the supports.  But I don't just stop at brainstorming the current needs, but why each of the items listed are important and needed.  If the person with the needs is able to complete this task then I would have them do their own and their family member also complete one.  Then we rate them in order of importance.  Often there are major differences to what is important when the caregiver's list is compared to the person with the support needs list.  Of course, if the person who needs services is too young, not cognitively able, or not mentally able to complete the list, then it would be what the family perceives the needs to be.  From there we create their question to ask when calling a potential service provider.

Why is this so important?  A service provider needs to know exactly what services and needs you require.   Being in the service provider end of things for many years I can certainly testify to this.  The more clear you are in your needs, the easier it is to determine what supports the provider can offer and whether they are in fact the provider or service you should be connecting with.

So when you or someone you know is considering seeking services for their loved one, keep this tip in mind.  Again, if anyone wishes to reach out for coaching in this and more in-depth support, I am just an email away and happy to help anyone navigate this process.


Thursday, June 6, 2019

Who am 1?

A bit about me:

I am first and foremost a mother of two wonderful teenage boys and to three wonderful step children.  Four boys in total and one girl...all right now who are teenagers!  Yep, it can get crazy in this house!

Now to why I am starting this blog...I have worked in the developmental services field as an employee or volunteer for nearly 25 years.  I began volunteering in a daycare with children with differing needs who required additional support to participate fully in their classroom environments.  After a couple years I began working part time at three different agencies and eventually moved up to full time and management.  Over the years I worked with families, self-advocates, schools, ministries and many other professionals and organizations.  My work also afforded me the honour of assisting a self-advocates group and to participate as an acting member of a family network support group.  It has been a rich knowledgebase for me and so very meaningful.

During my time working at various organizations, I also found love and married my first husband.  With him I had the two boys that I love so dearly. With my children came even more challenges when I found myself with a toddler and a baby and had a car accident that required I have outside help to take care of them (my husband at the time was a truck driver and gone a lot).  This was very challenging for me but gave me a different prospective from being the one taking care to be the one being taken care of.  Instead of giving support, I was receiving it.  What a different prospective!  I valued every minute of our nanny's time to help...they were just wonderful.  This time in my life also gave me some prospective on what families go through when they themselves cannot care for their loved ones.

Once my oldest was 3 we realized he had severe eye issues and required corrective surgery.  He also struggles with managing ADHD, social anxiety and OCD.  My other younger child around the same time was showing signs of low tone and sensory processing difficulties requiring both speech and occupational therapies to help him.  Let's just say I was happy to know where to turn and what resources I needed to reach out to.  I had worked in the field for over 10 years and had to reach out myself so finding supports was a fairly easy step for me.  But what if all these points in my life had not occurred?  Would I have known where to turn?  The answer is "probably not".

In recent years I decided to take a few more courses and received my Advanced Life Skills diploma and along with my partner (and twin sister) we began Twin Life Coaching & Business Services.  This has been a secondary business for both of us as we both still maintain our full time jobs.  For me, this was a great opportunity to use my professional and personal experience to help others.  I decided to start this blog in order to use my skillset and knowledge to help others find supports, learn what to ask when they do find it, how to prepare for your loved one's future, how to support yourself and develop coping strategies amongst other things.  I hope it will help someone who needs it.   Of course I will also share tools I develop along the way and hope to have some feedback too. is our website and the holistic life coaching page outlines one of my packages for providing similar supports in a holistic manner (no pressure but thought I would share).  I hope my blog will touch someone and perhaps make those "rocky" moments with your loved ones go a little smoother.