When my son was younger I don’t remember attending very many resource fairs, and I don’t recall if this was because we just didn’t go anywhere at all (he was a handful) or we didn’t know about them – but I believe it was probably a mix of both. Since my wife’s death I’ve come to really value Resource Fairs, they helped me figure a LOT of things out in the first year or two.
Sadly it feels like attendance is low, even at the events put on through local schools for the parents of their students. I get it, as parents we’re incredibly busy and (speaking for myself) exhausted at the end of the day, the last thing I generally want to do is go back out. But what I’ve learned is this – as parents we don’t know what we don’t know, heck sometimes we don’t even know which questions to ask to figure out what we don’t know.
The world of disability benefits is confusing (to me, at least). It felt like the agencies were only answering the questions asked when I was trying to figure out what my son did, and didn’t, qualify for – I was (and sometimes still get) incredibly frustrated. And then I discovered Resource Fairs. Here was a place where agencies sent representatives to answer questions, and more importantly, share what they do. In many cases I’d never heard of them and didn’t know their services existed – I never would’ve known to ask about them either.
Resource Fairs, at least in my experience, are not places you are going to be “sold to”. It’s not like going to a time share presentation or car lot, you won’t have anybody pushing a product or solution onto you. From what I’ve seen the organizers are very clear to the “vendors” (which includes non-profit service providers) – they may share information about their services, but they CANNOT sell anything.
I encourage all of my fellow families to make the time to attend at least one in your area. While your there talk to the other parents in addition to the agencies. I wouldn’t pass by any table without at least talking to them, because you never know what life is going to throw at you – knowing something exists when you discover you need help can be a lifeline. Not sure where to start – ask your child’s teacher(s), usually they can point in a general direction. Let’s get out there and help ourselves!