5 Things I Wish I Knew Then - Tips for “First-timer” Parents

The team at Exceptional Lives is out in the community all the time. We’re asking questions and listening to parent feedback, with the goal of making our free online Guides better for parents. One thing we hear often is “I wish I knew [fill in the blank] when I was going through this for the first time.”

Thinking of first-timer parents who may be new to the world of disabilities, here’s the first post in a regular series of things veteran parents wished they knew when they were going through something for the first time…

 “My mistake was not using social services at the hospital after the diagnosis. Since then I started telling all doctors to tell parents like me to use those services." - Barnstable, MA

Medical professionals, including doctors and social workers, can be a helpful resource to parents, especially right after you receive the life-changing news that your child has a disability. These staff members have worked with many parents like you, and they might know which services have worked for parents in your shoes in the past. Ask your doctors and medical professionals early and often for advice on services – they could save you time and money, helping you to get the services you need sooner.

 “I didn’t know I could help write the IEP. It was always just written for me.” - Boston, MA

You are the expert when it comes to knowing what your child needs. Take an active role in the IEP process and try to work with the school to create the best plan possible. You have a voice in this process!

“I went back and added how much money we saved from Premium Assistance, and it was enough to pay for my son’s first year of college.” - Hyannis, MA

Unfortunately you’re not always told up front about all of the helpful programs and services you need. Many of these are available specifically for children and adults with disabilities, and they’re just waiting for you to start using them. Especially if you qualify for a program, like MassHealth Premium Assistance, you should apply NOW! These services are meant to help you.

“I have MassHealth as secondary insurance with the Premium Assistance, but I didn’t know I could use it to get behavioral services my private insurance won’t provide. Now I’m reaching out to providers about in-home services.” - Swampscott, MA

Even when you think you have everything you need, there might be bonus services or benefits out there that you and your family qualify for. Take the time to review the benefits you currently have and make the most out of your services.

“I don’t know what I don’t know.” - Parents everywhere!

We hear this time and time again. It’s hard to know what the right answer is, or if a right answer even exists. This is a big reason why we created our free online Guides – there is too much information out there, and not all of it is relevant to each and every parent. Try to find resources you can trust, like a parent network or a website that you can turn to for updates and advice.

The Exceptional Lives team is available to answer any questions you may have along the way. Give us a call at 1-844-628-4866 or send us an email at info@exceptionallives.org.