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Autism: Enough For Us

15 Aug

It isn’t something I would have asked him for if I could have continued working, but that wasn’t a possibility. And if he was able to work, and I wasn’t, I still wouldn’t feel right asking him for this. However, since both of us have been diagnosed with Autism in the last 14 months, and since I was told that for my mental health I couldn’t/shouldn’t work, and since he was not even able to leave the house or talk to people about getting work, we were encouraged to pursue this direction.

In the beginning, the idea of not working, and not having an income (though I was put on medical EI) was terrifying to me. For the last half of 2015 my focus was on the fact that I had no income… we had no money… what would we do? As is typical of me, the ideas that came to my head were not exactly practical – and would have caused problems in themselves (such as renting out half of my house, and moving into our basement with our son. Neighbours are a problem for me, imagine what renters would be like!)

Then in December I got the notice that I had been approved for Canada Pension Plan Disability. That was really good news, but… it really wasn’t much. Not to say that I am entitled to ‘make’ as much on disability as people make going out to work every day, but work was not an option, and we still needed the money. On disability, I get about half of what I was making at work on an average month, and that in itself was stressful. I couldn’t put it all on my husband, who is working hard as it is (for not exactly high pay) and is turning 64 this year. That wouldn’t be fair.

Still it was something, and if we were really, really careful about what we were spending, the savings in our bank wouldn’t drop too fast. But it wasn’t enough. As I said, work isn’t an option – not at this point anyway – and if I could work, even a little, I would likely lose my disability.

It was quite a difficult position to be in.

The solution was given that since my son was also diagnosed with Autism last February, and since he had no desire to move away from home (he doesn’t even like to leave the house) we would apply for provincial disability for him. Since he was twenty, and considered an independent adult, my husband’s income didn’t count against him for provincial disability. He had no income of his own.

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In British Columbia (I don’t know about the rest of the country) provincial disability is a lot better than federal (which is what I am on.) It not only pays very nearly twice as much, but my son is also allowed to make twice as much while on it (if he is able to work, which has not been true to date.)  There are also a lot of benefits that come with this, including dental, prescription drugs, recreation, discount bus passes…

So back in March, he applied, with the help of a Registered Nurse, and his Psychiatrist. And then the wait came, but it wasn’t as difficult, as they gave him some money to use for rent and food in the following months, just not as much as he would get on disability.

Well, three days ago, we got back from camping. He got a letter in the mail, which he opened the following morning, saying that he was approved for provincial disability!!!

This is really good news for all of us, since he had been stressed out about not being able to contribute for his food and such though he was an adult.

Now he pays something towards rent each month, which includes money for internet, Netflix, heat, hydro, etc. He pays for his own food, and clothes, transportation, and anything else he might need. All of this comes to me, which strongly lifts the burden on me, and therefore lifts the burden on my husband.

It may not be a lot, but it is enough – and for that I am very, very thankful.

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