My son Theo has autism. He is 4 years old. Many thoughts and worries go through your head when a diagnosis like this is received for your child. My biggest ones are what will become of him? Will he be able to function in society, live independently, have a job or career?
Theo will not be going to mainstream school; he will go to a special school for children with special educational needs and part of this involves having an Education and Health Care Plan – an EHCP.
I’m only just starting on Theo’s journey with him but at first view, the EHCP seems like a wonderful thing. It’s tailored to his specific needs and designed to give him the best chance of fulfilling his potential. There are targets for him to work towards by certain key stages, but they are not supposed to be millstones around his neck whereby if he doesn’t reach them his life won’t be worth living.
They’re just something to aim for and yet are deliberately challenging.
When considering these targets, there are key actions that may need to take place.
Does Theo need to do a sensory circuit each morning to prepare him for the day? It’s in his plan.
Does he need speech therapy daily? Twice a week? How long and with who? It’s in his plan and is necessarily detailed.
Theo has very specific and narrow interests, but these interests will be used to aid development in his weaker areas. If the plan needs amending or to be reviewed, an emergency meeting can be called to review it.
Imagine if every child had their own EHCP. Does your child learn best outside of a classroom environment? Are they visual learners? Play-based learners? Do they learn best through individual study? Do they need more regular breaks throughout the day than their school typically provides?
If they are struggling, do they need to take 10 minutes and let some energy out or perk themselves up:? Love art but hate maths? How can their skills in art assist them with their mathematical development?
What if your child had a tailored plan that was designed to promote the very best version of themselves and set them up, to the best of their ability, for adult life?
This may be an educational utopian pipedream, but a well-thought-out life plan is something that everyone can have for themselves.
Life can be easier with a plan. Even if having a plan is the antithesis of everything that that you are and that, perhaps, you’re more of a “happy-go-lucky/see where life takes you” kind of person.
Wouldn’t it be a good idea to at least have a fully realised backup plan? Perhaps you could even set the rules for your “not-plan” plan.
What does your own personal lifestyle plan look like?
Well, first you need to consider what you want. If you don’t know where you’re going you can’t create a plan to get there.
From a financial planning perspective, you first need to think about what you want your life to look like. You don’t need to have a plan to retire or to stop working at a set age on a set income. Although if that is what you would really like, then why not?
Perhaps you would like to continue to work, but not feel like you must have to – you just want financial freedom and flexibility.
Maybe you would like to do something, but not the same thing you are doing now. That may involve earning still money, but it may not.
Once you know what you want, you can work out what you need to do. Do you need to save? If so, then when and how much?
What return do you need? Is the plan flexible ‘(if A doesn’t happen, I’ll do B instead’)?
Is the plan disaster-proof? What happens if you become too ill to work?
A great Financial Planner can help design and build your personal Financial Life Plan. Using the latest ideas and structures for tax planning and investing, can supercharge your plan compared to leaving your cash in the bank or savings account.
It’s a long road ahead for Theo and my family. There are going to be challenging times but also, I’m sure some wonderful times when Theo does things I never thought he would be able to.
Having Theo’s EHCP has given me hope, a sense of relief, peace of mind and for the first time, I feel that everything might be ok.
Wouldn’t everyone like to feel like this for themselves?
Associate | Adv DipFA