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Terri Mauro
BY Terri Mauro
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52 Things Parents of Kids with Special Needs Wish They Could Have Deducted on Their Taxes

Unless you applied for an extension on your taxes this year, the annual rush to find deductions ended yesterday on Tax Day 2017. Parents of children with disabilities may have found legit deductions for their children’s medical care, therapy, and other special needs, but that stuff really doesn’t scratch the surface of the expenses we wish we could declare, does it? Wouldn’t it be great if the government appreciated the importance of the following expenditures and allowed us to deduct the cost of:

1. Parenting books
2. Books written for professionals that we try to carve our way through
3. Shelves to hold all those books
4. Post-It notes and highlighters for marking up those books
5. Copies of book pages to distribute to teachers and other professionals
6. Copies of reports from some professionals to pass to other professionals
7. Postage for mailing all those reports around
8. Postage for letters berating professionals for not paying attention to the reports
9. Postage for endless insurance paperwork
10. Medicinal coffee
11. Mail-order therapy items we always believe are going to make a difference
12. Storage for all the therapy items our kid played with once and tossed aside
13. Fidgets of all sorts
14. Items to satisfy our child’s fixations and obsessions
15. Trampolines
16. Ball pits
17. Admission to or food purchased at places with trampolines and ball pits
18. Special food purchased to avoid our child’s allergies or sensory challenges
19. Food purchased in ongoing experiment to find something our child will eat
20. Travel to out-of-town specialists and therapists
21. Travel to out-of-district schools
22. Travel to conferences on our child’s disabilities
23. Fees to attend those conferences
24. Educational materials purchased at those conferences
25. Conference swag
26. Internet service, needed for research and respite
27. Cell phone service, needed because we have to be available to everyone at all times
28. Smartphones, because we can never miss an e-mail
29. Medicinal chocolate
30. Specialized clothing to fit our child’s devices and other needs
31. Clothing purchased and never worn because it didn’t feel right
32. Clothing we’ve destroyed in an effort to adapt it
33. Multiple attempts at homemade weighted vests
34. Store-bought weighted vests
35. Weighted pencils, shoes, lap animals, etc.
36. Specialized pencils to help with writing
37. Specialized paper for writing on
38. Folders and binders for all the IEPs and reports we receive from the school
39. Cabinets and bins to hold all those folders and binders
40. Medicinal baked goods for mood-lifting after IEP meetings
41. Calendars, scheduling systems, and apps for keeping track of school and medical appointments
42. End-of-year gifts for teachers, paraprofessionals, therapists, bus drivers, bus aides, etc.
43. iPad for helping our child learn, grow, and pass time in boring places
44. Apps for iPad
45. In-app purchases our child made without our knowledge
46. Other business expenses for our full-time job as freelance insurance negotiator
47. Other business expenses for our full-time job as freelance advocate
48. Other business expenses for our full-time job as freelance at-home therapist
49. Other business expenses for our full-time job as freelance tutor
50. Other business expenses for our full-time job as freelance nurse
51, Other business expenses for our full-time job as freelance chauffeur
52. A vacation, because maybe that would inspire us to take one.

Terri Mauro

Written on April 19, 2017 by:

Terri Mauro is a former blog manager for Friendship Circle and Parenting Special Needs guide for About.com. She is the author of 50 Ways to Support Your Child's Special Education and The Everything Parents Guide to Sensory Processing Disorder. You can read more of her work on her website Mothers With Attitude and listen to her every weekday on the Parenting Roundabout Podcast. Terri has two children with special needs adopted from Russia in 1994.
  • Serpentina

    Yes! If we can deduct other educational expenses and childcare, why can’t we deduct these things? What if we write a bill and get a few US reps to sponser with educational advocacy backgrounds ( or work with an advocacy group). It could be for a specific parent advocate deduction provision, or perhaps just as businesses can write off expenses for what they do, we establish the parenting of a special needs child as an actual job ( lets face it, all parenting is a job, as are all domestic activities, and women are the largest part of the unpaid workforce. Men who do these things obviously also count,but when we are talking about being the parent of a special needs child, it is most often more challenging ( and 24/7) than a whole lot of paid jobs. Now we know we do not draw a salary taking care of our kiddos, but many of us have had our ability to work and contribute to our family income either limited or like myself, completely off the table for an undetermined amount of time. I have 2 older sons who are 18 and 16 and I worked both part and full time for their first years. They do not have any special needs that require expense. My 16 year old was a micropreemie and our insurance covered his early therapies and surgeries, but though he wears glasses and does have an IEP for some mild learning difficulties that cropped up as a preteen, he isnt on the spectrum. I was young when I had them, and was able to obtain some education to secure a new career and was beginning to take off and make a decent salary with commission and earning potential when out of complete surprise became pregnant after being told I likely couldnt from scar tissue and hormone issues- not to mention 8.5 years had gone by! I had hyperemesis gravidarum from week 7-10 and missed a lot of work, I was told at 10 weeks I would need a cerclage, progesterone shots,and bedrest from 14-36 weeks. I was preparing to take short term disability,
    I had good insurance, was prepared for the long haul, and my company was bought out and I was no longer eligable for the short term disability because employment terms were changed, so I had to resign, and though I did get a few months coverage and pay, my husband had to pick up the 2500/plus a month slack and I was able to get medcaid and temporary food stamps. Once my son was born he was ok until 13 months when he developed his first food allergy reaction. He had developed on time and continued to talk and walk until 15 months then just stopped. We found out he had amblyopia, and that he was allergic to most every staple food except gluten go figure- and he then developed oral issues so he would only eat 3 or 4 things. Had to use an expensive food replacement and supplements, we were lucky to get in house Speech and OT, till 3, then the preschool he was accepted into was not at all equipped for his lack of toilet training, not responsive to command, food allergy, sensory issues, fears and obsessions, and only offered speech therapy. The first day he tried to escape so I home schooled for 2
    Years with private therapy until our adjunct special ed program invited him to attend the school in our district that offered full services and IEP. He is in second grade, went from not being in gen ed except for specials in kindergarten to now being in gen ed full day with support, except for the fact despite him reaching his quarterly goals and getting more socially appropriate and using a behavioral plan, suddenly in 4th quarter his home teacher wants him to repeat 2nd grade? He is supposed to see a resource teacher for reading comprehension and math, which he had and while having a harder time first quarter, improved to a’s and B’s 2nd and 3rd quarter. Well now i find out he hasnt gotten services this quarter and suddenly not only do they want him to potentially repeat 2nd grade, but then they want to send him back to our home school which has no therapists. They cite because many kids are either non verbal or arent learning, and my son they believe has the ability but its “inconsistent by mood”
    That he should just repeat. So we are going to pay for out of school expensive tutors to prevent this. Im told we cannot deduct that. Im frustrated because I am a full time stay at home mom and we spend lots of money for all the above mentioned things,the school system is essentially cheating him, and we need to establish this type of parenting as a self employment that can deduct expense. It seems like a no brainer! We dont buy frivilous things.
    I but what the therapists and books recommend. These things, as well as the food I have to buy special to handmake, are more of our budget than it ever was when raising my older sons. One is going to be entering college this fall, and wow. We are still considered middle class, but my husband makes that amount thats just a bit too much to qualify for any extra credits or subsidies on health, etc. If I did go to work again after 8 years and near 40 years old I would need continuing education and would have a tough time making money to pay a child care provider who would be a caregiver my son would need. He is not physically disabled. He is just autistic with a development delay, has lower muscle tone, is a picky eater, has sensory and personal space issues, and is still developing social skills and impulse
    Control. He has an obsession with electricity and likes to do experiments and has to be watched like a hawk because he could have someones computer disassembled and their power shorted out in 15 minutes. ( yet he has trouble with reading comprehension and subtraction) He is busy, talkative, and curious in an insatiable way. Toys alone to keep him busy are crazy expensive. Finding a sitter qualified is difficult because even the grandparents arent quick enough!!
    We need a bill written to help special needs parents! Asap!

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