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Money Matters: Teaching Money Management to Your Child With Special Needs

Updated: Jan 24, 2023

Basic financial understanding is essential to every independent person. However, children and young adults with special needs, such as Autism often struggle with the abstract concepts of money.

This makes them highly susceptible to frauds and scams, such as sharing confidential financial information online, revealing their card PIN to their friends, or giving away their pocket money to someone in exchange for “friendship”. The lack of financial understanding can create room for them being cheated in several ways.

Amidst the several anxieties faced by parents and caregivers of young adults with special needs, money management is one of the greatest concerns. We often come across young adults who cannot pay for their meal at a food stall as they are unaware about the concept of money and payments. This lack of awareness about money acts as an obstacle in them leading an independent life.

Do you have an older child with intellectual special needs whom you are trying to teach money management?

Learning money management would not only transform your child’s life by making him/her more independent, but also improve his/her problem solving skills and quantitative understanding. Here are four suggested ways that can help your child to learn to manage money more wisely.

#1: Use Workbooks

Several workbooks teach financial literacy, money management and budgeting through simple practices, exercises and fun and engaging games. These are extremely beneficial as they serve more than one purpose. The problems in these workbooks not only make your child aware of money related concepts, but also help develop problem solving, logic and reasoning, and mathematical skills among your child.

#2: Allow your child to make an actual purchase within a specified budget

There is no better way to learn a real-life skill than getting actual hands-on real-life experience! Don’t just teach your child about buying and paying. Make him/her do it.

Take your child out shopping at a store or for a meal at a restaurant. Give him/her a budget beforehand and then let him/her make the buying decisions. Do a review or reflection after the activity to check on the gaps of learning and whether your child was able to make a purchase adhering to the budget. Use the reflection to learn what your child struggles with and try to work on that.

You can sometimes try role-playing where you can play a grocery store cashier and your child can buy a packet of chips from you. This would allow him/her to learn without the anxiety of interacting with an outsider and even if he/she makes a mistake, there is nothing to worry about.

#3: Familiarise your child with key terms

Always help the child to remember key terms and important sight words, such as ‘price’, ‘budget’, ‘savings’, ‘ATM’, ‘PIN’, ‘Debit Card’, ‘Credit Card’, ‘discount’ et cetera by uttering them frequently with the child at home and whenever at the marketplace. Try to reiterate that every item has a price and how some things are more expensive than others. Having an idea of such concepts in day-to-day life is an integral stepping stone to gaining financial literacy.

Apart from merely following these strategies, you must accept that it might be challenging for your child to understand a rather abstract concept such as money so allow your child to slowly and gradually pick up the concept. Track your child’s progress without expecting instant results. Lastly, reward your child with something every time he/she makes progress or at least puts in the effort to do so.

SpedGrow is a budding startup that conducts engaging and fun financial literacy workshops, activities and classes for people with special needs. Find out more and register!

The SpedGrow App is a financial wallet which allows vulnerable individuals to handle financial transactions in a safe environment. With the financial wallet, these individuals can make purchases independently, grow savings for the things they like, and basically learn to be savvy with their money while being protected. It allows caregivers to supervise their child’s spendings. It also provides gamified education about money related concepts and real-life situations through simple, yet impactful in-app games.

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