Life is all about adaptability, about rising to the challenges that we all face and this invariably brings change. Nobody knows this more than the amazing families out there on their own special needs journey.
As much as we hate to admit it, one of those challenges is often a financial one. I don’t know about you but I find it shocking how expensive it is just to provide your special needs child with the necessities. Healthy food, special cutlery, wobbly cushions, weighted blankets, it all mounts up. This can be a particular challenge when your child requires you to be at home. Holding down a job becomes virtually impossible. There are benefits out there but no one actually tells you about them and, to be brutally honest, even if you do manage to qualify for them, they don’t stretch far enough.
I have been self employed since July 2000 when I joined the equestrian industry as a ‘mature’ working pupil and I loved it. I was able to have my own horse and take my British Horse Society Exams and, eventually, I managed to find and run my own livery yard. During this time I also attended the Natural Animal Centre and became a graduate of their Equine Behaviour Qualification, something of which I am particularly proud. I’d found my passion in life. Then, early 2005, we had some exciting news. I was pregnant! This was quite a shock as I’d been told that I couldn’t have children and then, at my first scan, we received the news that it was twins!
Everyone told us that the horses would have to go and we were even told that we couldn’t have a dog with kids. Well, I’m sorry but they were here first lol. We did make adjustments, obviously, I had to close my yard and we called a halt to the self drive hire horsebox and trailer business that we were running. We went from a family of 2, with 2 incomes, to a family of 4, with 1 income, overnight! A bit of adjustment was necessary especially as, at this point, I had 2 horses and I was determined not to get rid of them.
I’m not one to just sit on my backside, I was brought up to pay my way and be independent and so I started to look for opportunities to work from home. I found a magazine franchise that sounded absolutely ideal. It was sold to me as a family friendly business and, at first, it was. But, I don’t know how to fail. I built the magazine up from 16 pages to 64 and from a distribution of just 1200 to 10,000 every month and I loved it. However, the more successful it became, the more non-family friendly it was and the strain was beginning to tell. It began to make me ill and I had to make the decision to wind it up.
During this time, we were approached about saving money. Well this was a no brainer as life had become very expensive. We became customers of a company called Utility Warehouse. The savings and simplicity of what was on offer, to be honest, answered all our prayers. This is when our life changed. The Utility Warehouse also came with a business opportunity, something that proved to be the answer to my income challenge.
I now have an amazing business of which I’m extremely proud. A business that I have now been involved with since August 2007. A business that has paid me every single month, whether I have worked or not and that will continue to pay me and that will provide me with a pension when I decide to stop work.
Why have I told you all this? Because, for those of you that don’t know, my son has been out of school for the last year. He is Autistic with Demand Avoidance Traits.
We have been involved in a battle (the only way that I can describe it) for the last 10 years to get him the help that he needs. His diagnosis of ASD came through in May 2017 and then earlier this year it was amended to ASD with Demand Avoidance Traits.
The need to adapt
My Utility Warehouse business involves meeting people and talking to them. For the last year I have, more or less, been tied to the house. If I’ve gone out, usually my son has been in tow. This has made it virtually impossible for me to go out and help people to save money. Why? Not so much because of other people but because of my son. It wouldn’t have been fair on him due to the fact that he doesn’t cope well with strangers. To be honest, that’s not the only reason. It is sometimes extremely difficult, if not impossible, to get him out of the house. This makes getting anywhere for a set time, extremely tricky. I hate being late and, at the moment, I don’t need the extra stress in my life or his.
Luckily, my business will be there when I’m able to get back to it and, the important thing here is that it is still paying me. Without it, we would have been finding life financially much more difficult than we actually are.
At the start of this post I mentioned adaptability. I’ve never been someone that is happy to just sit back and not be busy. So, I started this blog.
My blog is about our experiences on our special needs journey. We have been hitting our heads against the brick wall that is “The System” for some time now and it becomes extremely tiring. If I can help just one person by reducing the number of knocks that they take, then I will feel blessed.
The special needs journey can also be a very lonely one. My blog gives me the opportunity to connect with other people and to voice my thoughts and ideas that may not otherwise see the light of day.
The Special Needs journey is a challenging one and we need to help each other. I am lucky enough to have the time to fight the battles and time is something that some special needs families do not have. They have to work full time. I cannot even begin to imagine the stress that they must be under, torn between wanting to help their children and needing to work to provide financial security.
If I’d had to go out to work, I most likely would have lost my job. Why? Because one of the challenges that my son faces is severe separation anxiety. What does this mean? I can count on one hand, the people that he will stay with if I have to go out. People that also have to work.
So, as a family, we have adapted. Without adaptability, without change, you cannot move forward and moving forward is what life is about.
If this has resonated with you, on any level, please let me know by leaving a comment.
Until next time, be flexible, embrace change and practice the art of adaptability.
PS: to be able to reach and help as many people as possible, I’d love for your to share my blog post far and wide. Links below.