"Parents may not be ready to have that conversation," but, he added, by planning and putting some of the pieces in place, "You can approach the potential guardian and say 'I know this is a difficult thing to assume, but I've made some financial arrangements that may make the situation more comfortable.’"
Though financial planners and insurance agents know their products well, it's the parent of the child with ASD who truly knows the ins and outs of daily life. To that end, Maier suggests that in addition to any legal documents and plans families may put in place, parents write a letter of intent, documenting all the details of caring for their child with special needs, including medications, daily schedules, and favorite toys, movies, or activities.
"For example, if every time Johnny goes to the pediatrician, he gets a red lollipop -- and it has to be red -- that can really make or break a situation," said Maier.
Knowing that many children with autism follow specific schedules or have very unique preferences, a letter of intent, though not a legal document, may ensure vital information is passed on to those now caring for the child.
Douglas O. Baker of Los Angeles, California, is a Special Needs Advisor and, like Crawford, is a father of a child with ASD. Baker said parents should to work with someone they trust, as he has come across his share of professionals who don't necessarily have the child's best interest in mind, or don't listen to the family’s needs.
"Parents have to be wary of agents poaching special needs families, simply trying to sell a product,” said Baker. “Families drop their policy after a year because it didn't make any sense."