Living with a disability

Living with a disability can present a variety of challenges some obvious and some not so obvious. Even the term disability warrants an explanation. Many people tend to default their thoughts to visually apparent disabilities when they hear the term. But disabilities can be non-visual too. Anxiety disorders, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and even separation anxiety qualify as disabilities.

1. Home renovations

Picture your home as it is now. Do you need a lift to get to your apartment? Does your house have stairs or are the doorways wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair. A physical disability demands certain changes to your home which could result in having to renovate or move.

2. Physical Assistance

Being unable to hear or see could result in the need for physical assistance in the form of a person. This person could act as an interpreter for deaf people or guide and carer for blind people. The costs of having a human guide are high.

3. Assessments and medication

Assessing whether your child has ADHD, ADD, Autism or even Asperger's is a lengthy process. The tests need to be administered by a specialist such as an Educational Psychologist and in some instances a Paediatric Psychiatrist. Usually more than on session is required. Specialist rates run into the thousands and that is before any medication (if necessary) is prescribed. ADHD medication is not a clear science more calculated trial and error as parents and doctors monitor the child's reaction to the type and dosage of medication.

4. Special needs resources

Many special needs children dont cope well in mainstream schools and switch to special needs schools or home schooling/tutoring. Here again the amounts vary although you can claim for certain expenses from the South African Revenue Services (SARS).

5. Therapy

Suffering from a mental health disorder is not just emotionally and physically draining it depletes your finances too. Therapy sessions with psychologists can set you back between R800 and R1 000. Even you do belong to a medical aid specialist rates are seldom reimbursed in full. Add to this the cost of medication and your health bill could soar into the thousands per month.

6. Counteracting the financial strain

There are various products available in the market place to help alleviate the financial strain of a disability should something happen to you after you've taken out this type of cover. The aim of disability insurance is to protect your ability to earn an income in the event that you aren't able to do normal day-to-day activities because of a mild or severe, temporary or permanent injury or illness.

Its not so easy to predict that your unborn child will be autistic or will experience learning difficulties when he or she gets to school. This highlights the importance of saving in general. Investing in a medium term investment vehicle such as unit trusts or a tax-free savings account can go a long way to addressing the costs associated with unforeseeable challenges.

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