World Autism Awareness Day

I wrote this a few years back, but I feel it still captures my sentiments towards Autism Awareness Day.

Today we celebrate an important day in my household, my daughter’s birthday. It is also World Autism Awareness Day or as we call it in my home, today. Allow me to ramble a little on the topic. 

I have written a great deal about RDSPs (Registered Disability Savings Plans) and how key they are for parents of children with Autism, to help plan for their child’s future, and in there I have also written a few snippets about the life of a Parent with a child on the Autism Spectrum, but let me touch on a few more things to maybe help some folks have a better understanding of the challenges, for parents of kids on the spectrum (enhancing your autism awareness day).

I wrote a while ago about Giving Advice to parents of kids on the spectrum, and while that article was a little raw, it does sum up some of the problems Parents have (and I’d like to point out not just for parents of kids with Autism, parents of kids with disabilities (visible or not) and some parents in general have the same issues). I try to offer advice to parents I speak with, only if asked, but I must admit that sometimes I feel the need to share my “wisdom” on the subject a bit too much (so the finger points at me as well). All parents are trying as hard as they can, just try to support them, and you are helping.

Rhys is our last child, and I think that was a good thing, in that, we learned a great deal from our 3 daughters in terms of parenting skills, and a fair amount has been transferable to Rhys. All three girls were “gifted” in different ways, so we learned a great deal about how to deal with the educational system, and the problems getting smart kids a good education in the public system (also from my late Mother-in-Law who was in charge of the Learning Disabilities Association of Halton, and from my Parents, as my eldest brother has disabilities as well).

From these experiences, and after talking to the local public schools, we decided to take on the extra financial burden of putting Rhys in a private school, because Rhys is unique in that he is very high functioning and thus doesn’t really fit into the “Classic” autism programs, but nor does he fit into the regular school programs. I wrote about getting Rhys’ school fees as a medical expense, so we get  a little help, but Mrs. C8j went back to work mostly to help out in this area as well (no one is complaining here, just explaining).

Keep in mind that marriages that have children on the spectrum have a higher risk of divorce (but I suspect this is also true for parents of kids with all disabilities), and at times there is stress in all relationships, but I think Mrs. C8j and I are doing fine in that aspect (another fun fact for Autism Awareness Day).

Do I want my son “cured”? I am really not sure what “cured” would mean? He is an amazingly complex boy, with an ability to surprise you constantly, what am I curing him of?

  • Do I wish he could deal with social interactions better? Yes, but I was an incredibly awkward kid socially, it is just I was ludicrously extraverted (and obnoxious). Rhys is learning slowly about social interactions, I don’t know where this will lead.
  • Would I love to see him be able to go to “regular” school? Maybe, I don’t really know, “regular” school never did me any big favors, it was only when I went to University that I started to realize my own gifts.
  • Is the world a better place with my son in it? Absolutely, Yes

So why would I want him “cured”? Please remember we are lucky that Rhys is high functioning, in that he talks, walks and if you saw him you really wouldn’t notice anything (except that he is only 10 but the size of a 14-year-old, but I suspect that is genetics). I have friends and have met folks who have children with Severe Autism, and I think they would give anything to have a child like Rhys, and their definition of “cured” is different from mine.

My Conclusions

In my life I have been blessed with many things, and my children are my biggest blessing (and my wife, family and friends as well).

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Disability Tax Credit: Please Do It Yourself

Preface: I am writing this in a careful way, since the firms I am NOT mentioning by name seem quite litigious in nature (i.e. they like suing folks). I am very UNHAPPY to read about these “services”. The firms claim to help get their clients their Disability Tax Credit, DTC, but for ludicrous fees. There is an ACT in place Bill C-462 : Protecting Disabled Canadians or a Paper Tiger  but it is inactive. 

I have written about how to get the Disability Tax Credit ( DTC ) from the CRA and the steps I have to take to receive them for my son. My apologies if I  portrayed the process as being extremely hard. I fear I have inadvertently also brought into play a whole new Service Provider, that of the “Disability Tax Credit Adviser”.

These Advisory firms offer their services,  to help the disabled (or parents of disabled folks) get their Disability Tax Credits from the CRA. While these firms seem to want to help the disabled get the tax breaks that they deserve, they do it for a very steep price.

Most of these services will not charge a “client” anything up front, and they will either help your Doctor fill in the forms, or better still they will supply their own “Doctor” for a diagnosis. This again sounds fair, in that some Doctors may not know the correct verbiage to use, however, this still must be the professional’s opinion (as they are the one who signs the form).

Disability Tax Credit Services are usually very bad
The Official BCM Seal of Disapproval.

How much does the Disability Tax Credit Service company make ? I have a few samples from a few of the sites I am aware of:

  • “…our fee is 20% of the amount you receive…”
  • Others can charge up to 30% “of the amount you receive”

This (in my opinion) is a ridiculously high fee for a service that should be done by you (or by an accountant). If you go to the Testimonial sections of many of these sites, you will see that folks can receive large settlements from the CRA, (upwards of $10,000) thus giving these firms 25% of this settlement.

I hope that folks who are “at wit’s end” do not turn to one of these firms, when they could do it themselves, or maybe they should contact an Accountant (or Tax expert) to try to get their Tax Credits.

There are allegations that the “commission” charged, by some of these firms, is not just on Disability Tax Credit part of the tax refund, it is in fact 20-30% of ALL of the tax refund received by the “client”. There are stories of the CRA auditing the Disability Claims prepared by some of these firms, and  disallowing the claims (and asking for all settlement money be returned to the CRA (the credit, including any fees paid)).

I have been quite critical of the Pay Day Loan services, for  preying on desperate people. If the allegations that I have read are true (I include links to articles in the Star and the CBC for you to form your own opinions) these folks should have a special place in Hell for taking advantage of Disabled Folks (and their families), this way and let me be a little more clear:

I implore anyone seeking help to receive the Disability Tax Credit to not use any service that charges a “percentage of settlement” fee for their services.

Do it yourself!!! Or Find a service with a set flat fee!

Articles from newspapers about some “Disability Tax Credit Services” firms and the allegations levelled against them:

If there are folks who have used these services, please comment about your experience.

Editor’s Note

I noticed that many of these “Disability Tax Credit Service Companies” seem to come up in advertising on my site (especially those articles that talked about the RDSP or Disability Tax Credit), and these firms advertise themselves as an advocate for disabled Canadians. I have blocked their ads and as new firms come up, I will investigate (as best I can) and will block any that I feel charge a ridiculous service fee.

If there are other ads on this site you find offensive, feel free to leave a comment, I will investigate them and block them, if I agree with you.

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Autism and Advice

Why did I write Autism and Advice ? I promised myself that this year I would write more about me and this may mean writings like this, which is a bit of a rant, which I started writing about 2 years ago when I was feeling quite sorry for myself, but I publish this in hopes it helps someone understand better what Parents with children who have disabilities (both visible and not visible) deal with every day.

In this world there are many well-meaning folk who love to feel they are being helpful, and thus enjoy handing out advice even in situations where they really have no bloody idea what they are talking about. I started receiving that kind of advice from day 1 of my life, but I started to notice it more the day after my first child was born. How can people without kids hand out advice? A very good question. I realize you can know a lot about raising kids if you were the oldest sibling in a large family and such, but maybe wait until you are asked to give that advice out?

Since our son was diagnosed on the Autism spectrum, my wife and I have received a myriad of advice from professionals and friends. Some of the advice have been quite useful and good and some was just bad or harmful.

Some examples of good advice:

  • A friend that told us to go look into an RDSP as it might be a good idea for long-term planning, and I have tried to help other folks understand this important tool for your child’s future as well (see the RDSP menu tab at the top of this page).
  • An amazing speech pathologist who told us that she didn’t think this was a speech issue, but handed my wife a great book, “The Out of Sync Child”, (you can find it on Amazon here The Out-of-Sync Child (amazon link)), and that described our son (at the time) and gave us hope.
  • The wonderful friend that recommended a local Co-op Nursery for our son.  They provided a philosophy and environment where our son could be successful.

Some bad advice?

  • A condescending neurologist who dismissed any of my wife’s concerns about our son’s development, and went as far as to say, “Oh you are one of THOSE parents” (after she admitted she had read some books and done some research). He then admitted he hadn’t actually been listening to us for the past twenty minutes, because he had been “observing” our son (OK fine, and then he completely misdiagnosed him).
  • The  folks who said, “All he needs is more structure”, “All he needs is less structure”, “He just needs some discipline”, etc., .   Let me be crystal clear, when you say this or do this to any parent, you might as well be saying, “You are a lousy parent and you are ruining your child”, because that is what they hear.
  • Yelling, demeaning or embarrassing a parent because their child is not behaving to YOUR standard, and may in fact be doing the absolute best that they can at that moment.  (This happened to Momma C8j with little C8j in tow at a local grocery store)

I think what a lot of parents want, when they have kids with  disabilities (be it visible or invisible), is for someone to do some Empathetic listening with them. Empathetic listening implies you listen and don’t try to solve the problem, simply let them talk and interject concern or elation in the right spots. A lot of times these folks just need to let it out with a friend, they may already know the answers, they just want to let some of their feelings out. If you watched my “It’s not the nail” video on my best of post, that is a good example of someone who wants empathetic listening.

Is There One Piece of Advice That Fits All ?

With kids on the Autism Spectrum, given it is such a broad diagnosis, there are not many “one size fits all” solutions to the child’s problems, so bombarding your friends with the latest story of how stem cells might fix your kid, or chelation might be the answer may not be what they need from a friend.

Maybe what they need is a sympathetic ear? If folks want advice, they will ask, and when that happens, give them your best advice, but until then…

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Child Disability Tax Credit Application Letter (Template)

Here is a template letter to apply for the Child Disability Benefit from the CRA. Remember, you must first have a signed T2201 Disability Tax Credit (DTC) Certificate from a recognized medical authority about your child’s disability (in our case a Psychologist from CHEO filled in the form for him being on the Autism Spectrum). Next you need to fill in the RC66 – Canada Child Benefits Application Form but that would only make your benefits start now (this tax year). Once you receive a positive response from the CRA for your disability claim, you can send this letter.

Depending on  your child’s disability, benefits can be retroactively given to you. However, you must ask for retroactive benefits, and that is what this letter Template is for. It is also important to have your medical professional have their diagnosis backdated as well (preferably in the T2201) to support your claim (Mrs. C8j reminded me of that one).

The letter does not need to be complex. It is important it does ask specifically what you want and need.

Remember this is a template so fill in your own information but note that the important phrase:

Mental Functions Necessary for everyday life

is specific, you need to include your child’s diagnosis if this is not his (or her) diagnosis.

Can the disability tax credit be backdated? Yes, mention that in the letter.

Letter Template


Disclaimer: This is an example template of letters that need to be sent to the CRA to receive the Child Disability Benefit retroactively from birth. I do not imply any guarantees with this letter. Nor am I saying this is enough to get the CDB, this is simply supplied as a starting point for folks who aren’t sure how to do this. The CRA decides each case individually the clearer your letter is, with as much information as possible should help your request. You should consult your Doctor, and or an Accountant if you are unsure of how to proceed.


Mr. Big Cajun Man
Big Cajun Hacienda,
Ottawa, Ontario
H0H 0H0
bigcajunman @ NoSpammersPlease.com
(613) 555-1212

Big Cajun Social Insurance:  123 456 789

To Whom it May Concern,

Please find enclosed a copy of the Form 2201 Disability Tax Credit for my son Little Caj Man  (SIN: 123 456 789), as well as a copy of the CRA approval of his Disability Tax Credit (retroactive to 2010).

Little Caj Man was born on January 33rd 2010, as the Form 2201 outlines his disability in the area of Mental Functions Necessary for everyday life, I would ask that the Child Disability Benefit be paid for the tax years: 2010, 2011, and 2012  (along with the current year).

If you have any questions or need more information please contact me.

Regards,

Big Cajun Man
123 456 789

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Private School Fallacy

A classic from 2013 about sending your kids to Private Schools. My son attends one, but that is because he is on the spectrum. If a private school offers the best option for your child and you can afford it, why not send them?

On the weekend Garth Turner railed about a parent he met who was sending his child to a private school. This even though the parent could not afford it. Was this child gifted or learning disabled, was not clear. Garth went on about how Public Schools are perfectly good. Mr. Turner you were a fool if you send your child to a private school. His reasoning was if you are paying taxes for the Public school system, you are double paying for education.

Let me state my opinions on this (leaving Garth’s odd commentary aside for now). The public school system is set up for the middle 80% of

This is not very cheap
This is not very cheap

children, in terms of “intelligence” and such, that is a fiscal truth (unfortunately). Depending on the school and teachers, most kids will thrive in the public school system. If your child is in the upper 10% (i.e. gifted) or the bottom 10% (learning disabled, or other issues) there are few programs in the public school system in Ontario. Yes there are “gifted” programs and there are programs for kids who need more help. I can attest that these programs are woefully underfunded and very hard to find.

For those about to leap into the “you are generalizing, I know of a kid…”, I am not. I have been blessed with 4 wonderful kids, two which went through the “gifted” program in the public system. My son is on the Autism spectrum who is in a private school. The “gifted” programs are being cut, due to budget issues, and the “rules”  for placement in a gifted program are getting tighter and tighter (so they really only serve the top 3% ).

As for the Public Board’s Autism program, it is set up for the kids much more disabled than my son. This means he ends up “between” the two programs, and why he is in a Private School program. This may change, as he matures.

Different people have different reasons for putting their kids into Private Schools, but if you cannot afford to put your kid into a Private School, and you are only doing it for “prestige” and not a specific educational reason, maybe you should review that. If your child does need a special program at a Private School, investigate if there is help you can get for in the public system.

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