According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the total cost of raising a child born before 2013 until age 17 is a staggering $245,340 [source: Lino]. For a child with special needs, that number can be a great deal more depending on the child's needs. You may encounter additional medical-related expenses or need to make modifications to your house as your child grows up. Plus, there are other potential costs, such as therapy, special schools, a caregiver and the additional savings and life insurance you'll need to ensure your child is well cared for after you're gone. You may even have lost income to consider if you end up taking time off to care for your child.
While the costs of raising a special needs child can be enormous, some advance planning will help you sleep at night. Begin saving money as soon as your child is born. There are two benefits to this. First, you can take advantage of compounding -- that is, watching your money grow faster. And second, your expenses may increase as your child gets older. Keep in mind that any money should remain in your name -- or in a trust for your child. If you put money in your child's name, he or she could become ineligible for benefits like Supplemental Social Security and Medicaid.