Your Child Has Been Diagnosed with Autism, Now What


Receiving a diagnosis of autism for your child can be overwhelming and emotional. However, it’s important to remember that early intervention and support can make a significant difference in your child’s development and quality of life. Here are some steps you can take after your child has been diagnosed with autism:

  1. Learn About Autism

Autism is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder that affects social communication and behavior. There is a wide range of symptoms and severity, so it’s important to educate yourself about autism and how it may impact your child. Read books, articles, and blogs written by autism experts, attend support groups, and consult with your child’s healthcare provider to understand your child’s specific needs.

  1. Create a Support Network

Having a support network can help you and your child navigate the challenges of autism. Reach out to family and friends for emotional support, and connect with other parents of children with autism through support groups or online communities. Consider hiring a therapist or counselor to help you and your family cope with the emotional stress of the diagnosis. If you are concerned about the cost of caring for a child with autism, a financial professional with expertise in special needs planning can help you sort out various options available to you to pay for the care your child needs.

  1. Seek Early Intervention Services

Early intervention services are crucial for children with autism, as they can help improve their social, communication, and behavior skills. Contact your state’s early intervention program or your child’s healthcare provider to learn about available services in your area. These services may include speech therapy, occupational therapy, and behavioral therapy.

  1. Create a Routine and Structure

Children with autism often thrive on routine and structure. Establish a consistent daily routine and schedule, and use visual aids, such as picture schedules or charts, to help your child understand and anticipate daily activities. Provide clear and consistent expectations, and use positive reinforcement to encourage good behavior.

  1. Advocate for Your Child

As a parent, you are your child’s best advocate. Be involved in your child’s education and healthcare, and speak up if you feel your child’s needs are not being met. Stay informed about your child’s rights and legal protections, such as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and work with your child’s healthcare provider and school to ensure they receive appropriate accommodations and support.

  1. Take Care of Yourself

Caring for a child with autism can be challenging and exhausting, so it’s important to prioritize self-care. Make time for activities that you enjoy, such as exercise, hobbies, or spending time with friends. Seek support from family and friends, and consider joining a support group for parents of children with autism.

Receiving a diagnosis of autism for your child can be overwhelming and emotional, but taking action early on can make a significant difference in your child’s development and quality of life. Remember that every child with autism is unique, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to autism care. Work with your child’s healthcare provider and education team to develop a personalized plan that meets your child’s individual needs.

How to Help Your College Students Have Positive College Experiences


I call the period that runs from every September to next May college application season for high school seniors across the country. The 2020/21 college application season is almost over. Now it is time for most high school seniors to weigh the offers and envision the lives they will be living for the next four years.

This is a time of excitement as well as anxieties for both students and their families. As parents of soon-to-be college freshmen, they all want their children to have four successful college years. But, I know that “success” is a highly subjective word. And student’s college experiences may be different due to the kind of colleges or universities they attend.

So, first let us define what success in college means. Success in college, according to many college students themselves, means achieving good grades, graduating on time, maintaining a balanced social life and landing a good job after graduation. On the surface, these goals seem to be simple and easy to achieve, right? In reality, however, there is no small number of students either struggle academically or have a hard time fitting in socially.

After perusing books and articles related to this subject and talking to some parents whose kids have already gone through colleges, I found out some universal traits of college students who have had positive experiences during college.

The first trait of such a student is having definite goals for life. I cannot stress enough of the importance for a college student to have definite goals for his or her life. But, there is a caveat. The goals should be what the students truly want for themselves, not the goals their parents or society set for them. Lucky are those who have concrete goals even before they set foot on college campuses. These students are motivated, self-driven and confident. They will seek and even create the kind of college experiences that help them achieve these goals.  

The second trait of a successful college student is having a good amount of self-control. The majority of high school seniors will leave their childhood homes and live in some kind of campus housing arrangements for the first time. No longer in their lives will there be nagging about eating healthy food and finishing their homework on time. At the same time, they are constantly facing the tasks of making choices: going to parties or working on that course assignment which is due very soon, eating healthy meals or eating whatever they want, and etc. Life is about trade offs. College life is no exception. The students who have successful college lives are those who are able to make good decisions most of the time. Generally speaking, making good decisions need good amounts of self-control.    

The third trait of a successful college student is the possession of good study skills. Academics are a big part of college life. It is hard to believe that a college student is having a positive experience when he or she struggles academically. For students who lack confidence in this skill set, I would like to share with them the formula for academic success outlined in Purdue University’s Guide to Creating a Successful College Experience:

  • Read the syllabus
  • Go to every class
  • Sit near the front in class
  • Find a study partner or group in every class
  • Take good notes.
  • At the beginning of each semester, ask yourself:
    • Do I understand what is expected of me in each class?
    • Do I have contact information for someone in every class to study with or contact in case I’m sick?
  • Manage your time wisely
  • Never let a week go by where you don’t understand the content in your courses
  • If you are confused or lost in a class, visit your professor, go to a help lab or study with a friend. Use your campus resources — they are there to help you
  • Study 2 hours for every hour you are in class

The fourth trait of a successful college student is getting involved in a wide range of activities. We know that college success is more than just good grades. Activities outside classrooms not only enrich students’ lives, they also help students explore their interests, develop social skills and possibly gain life-long friendships. Some of the activities include volunteering, working part-time on campus, getting involved in student’s residence hall, doing internships or studying abroad.

In addition to the above four traits, another factor affecting students’ college experiences is the emotional support or lack of it from their families. College years are coincident with a person’s transition period to adulthood. And this transition period is filled with stresses and struggles. In Janet Hibbs and Anthony Rostain’s apt named book – “The Stressed Years of Their Lives”, they talked about the mental problems facing today’s college students. Alarmingly, almost one-third of all college students report having felt so depressed that they had trouble functioning in the last twelve months according to the authors. Although so called “helicopter parents” are mocked and discouraged, this does not mean that parents can stay out of their college-age children’s lives other than writing tuition checks.

Before parents send off their children to college, they need to be aware of two important laws that could be critical to their children’s well beings. They are HIPAA and FERPA. HIPAA stands for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. HIPAA protects a person’s confidential health information. FERPA stands for the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974. FERPA was designed to protect the privacy of educational records and to give students the right to inspect and review their educational records (

In most states 18 is the legal age of majority, which means most college students’ health information and academic records are protected under law and not shared with their parents without the students’ consent. By checking the students’ academic records parents could detect early signs of their children’s mental issues. In order to access their students’ transcripts parents need a consent form to disclosure of FERPA protected academic records. In the age of Covid-19, it is also important for parents to have signed HIPAA waiver and health care proxy from their college-age children in order to make medical decisions on their children’s behalf. If parents need more information on these forms they can contact their financial advisors and/or family attorneys for help.

Looking back, 2020/21 college application process is quite a journey for both high school seniors and their families amid a global pandemic. As the high school seniors are about to open a new chapter of their lives, I wish them all successes in college.

Maximize Health Insurance Benefits and Minimize Your Healthcare Spending in 2021


After some heavy rain and low-40 degree days fall has finally come to Dallas. It signals the coming of holiday shopping, family gathering, end-of-year to do list and, annual enrollment. November is the month that health insurance for individuals and families sponsored by either government or many private employers are open for enrollment.

For people who will not have private insurance, the 2021 Open Enrollment Period starts from Sunday, November 1 and runs through Tuesday, December 15, 2020. You can go to to get information on what Health Insurance Market Place is and how it works. The website also let you browse and compare health plans available for 2021 enrollment. Starting in 2014, taxpayers with low to moderate annual incomes may be eligible for a Premium Tax Credit if they purchase health insurance coverage through the Health Insurance Market Place.

If your employer continues to sponsor group health insurance as an employee benefit, you probably have already received enrollment notice from your employer by now. Whether this is your first enrollment or your fifth or tenth time, you need to take some steps to ensure you and your family get the maximum benefits while minimize future costs.

Many medium to large private employers offer their employees a benefit program including a flexible spending account(FSA) under which the employee can elect a reduction in compensation and requests those dollars be allocated to the purchase of specific benefits. The benefits that can be provided include health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket payments such as co-pays, coinsurance payments, eyeglasses, and dental care. The maximum employee contribution to health FSA will be capped at $2,750 for 2021.

The election to contribute to employee FSA is made annually before the beginning of the year for which the election will be effective. The salary reductions used to fund specific benefits in the flexible spending account are not included in the employee’s gross income and are not treated as wages for Social Security taxes. If the money allocated to your health care flexible spending account is not used by the end of the year, it is forfeited. So, the first thing you need to do is to look back and review your family’s health related costs in 2020. Or better if you can look back two to three years and detect a spending pattern for your family’s medical expenses. Doing so gives you an idea of how much you have spent on family’s healthcare and where those dollars went. Then you can elect the amount of FSA salary reductions more aligned with your family’s circumstance. Some employers, however, allow their employees up until March 15th of the following year to spend funds in their FSA. So, be sure to check your FSA’s spending deadline with your employer’s human resource department.    

Next, review your current coverage and elections, and then consider the available plans to determine your needs for 2021. All employer-sponsored health plans are required by law to provide their employees the disclosure of important plan information, called The Summary Plan Description (SPD). The SPD contains important information such as how the plan operates, what benefits are provided, when an employee becomes eligible to participate in the plan and how to file a claim, etc. Another piece of document you can obtain from your employer is Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC). SBC helps you compare your coverage options across different types of plans.

Among the plans sponsored by your employers, there probably is a type of plan called high-deductible health plan. If you are financially able I would argue for enrolling in this type of plan to take advantage of Health Savings Account (HSA). HSA combines a high deductible health plan with a savings account. According to, for 2020, the IRS defines a high deductible health plan (HDHP) as any plan with a deductible of at least $1,400 for an individual or $2,800 for a family. An HDHP’s total yearly out-of-pocket expenses (including deductibles, co-payments, and coinsurance) cannot be more than $6,900 for an individual or $13,800 for a family. (This limit doesn’t apply to out-of-network services.) In addition, to be an eligible individual and qualify for an HSA, you are not enrolled in Medicare.

 HSAs have several tax advantages. One of them is that the contributions are an above-the-line deduction reducing adjusted gross income, so taxpayers do not need to itemize their tax deductions to benefit from HSA. Another advantage is that earnings on the contributions to an HSA are not taxed currently, and the distributions used to pay for qualifying medical expenses are tax-free. Qualified medical expenses include:

  • Medical expenses not reimbursed by health insurance policy
  • COBRA health insurance premiums
  • Long-term care premiums
  • Health insurance premiums if an individual is receiving unemployment compensation

The 2021 individual HSA contribution limit will be $3,600. The limit for family HSA contribution will be $7,200. If you will be 55 before the end of 2021, you can contribute an additional $1,000.

There is no doubt that healthcare related costs are staggering in the US. You will be amazed that even improving your health slightly can potentially lower your healthcare costs tremendously.

Take Care of Your Health to Improve Your Wealth


Part of a financial advisor’s job is to help clients manage the risks that could derail their financial plans or harm their financial well being. Healthcare planning is an important part of this risk management.

As generation X gets older their health is increasingly having more significance on their wealth. To older gen Xers, aging is potentially more detrimental to their wealth than stock market volatility.

According to a CDC report, 78% of US adults 55 and older have at least one chronic condition (Source: CDC/National Center for Health Statistics: National Health Interview Survey). If you are one of the gen Xers and have not started healthcare planning, now is a good time to start preparing for the unavoidable health issues later on.

When it comes to healthcare planning people usually thinks it is all about comparing and buying health insurance. In fact, health planning is a holistic process. It starts with an intentionally planned wellness regime that takes care of not only your physical well being but also your mental/emotional well being. Your wellness program needs to be reasonable, fitting your lifestyle and easy to stick with.

An integral part of your wellness plan is preventative care such as once a year physical examination. As people get older, health related expenses increase, too. Major medical bills are the leading cause for personal bankruptcy in US. It is more cost effective to prevent an illness than treating it. So, if you are 40 or older do not procrastinate on your annual physical.

What is more, the current pandemic also highlighted the fact that healthcare planning is a critical part of one’s risk management. The potential costs of a person hospitalized with coronavirus could be in the range of $21,936 to $38,755 if that person uses in-network service providers; if using out-of-network providers, the costs could be even higher, potentially costing you $42,486 to $74,310 (sources: FAIR Health). Therefore, it is urgent to identify in advance which in-network hospital will be your go-to hospital under your current health insurance plan.

If, unfortunately you have incurred coronavirus related medical bills, ask the health provider(s) to provide an itemized charge to make sure it does not have charges waived by CARES Act, such as diagnosing tests and co-payments. Alternatively, you can go to to find out what health insurers are offering to consumers during the pandemic.

A comprehensive healthcare plan also includes a few important legal documents, such as power of attorney and medical advanced directive. If you have drafted these documents a while ago, now is the time to update them to reflect the current and changing situations.

Poor health undermines our ability to work, thus reducing our earnings potential. Poor health also hinders our ability to enjoy life. It is imperative that gen Xers start taking care of their health now to live a quality life down the road.