Cotting School is always looking to promote and applaud the individuals and organizations that seek to support and improve the lives of families of children with disabilities. We recently spoke with Jay O’Brien, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Exceptional Lives, who shared with us his perspective and vision for this organization.
How did Exceptional Lives come about?
Jay O’Brien: We’re trying to solve the information problem. When families of children with disabilities go online to search for information, it can be overwhelming. Even offline, the huge amount of information available can be too much. And too much information can lead to inaction. We thought there could be a solution to this problem, and over the course of a couple years, have partnered with several agencies to condense the information into more digestible chunks.
What can families anticipate when they visit the site?
Jay O’Brien: First of all, our resources are free. Families can expect to find not just information, but action steps. We assume a parent or guardian knows nothing, and do our best to guide them along. By asking simple questions, we can filter out the relevant from the irrelevant information, and create guides that are tailored specifically to that family.
Besides the guides, what other resources does Exceptional Lives offer?
Jay O’Brien: We hold open sessions for parents to learn more about our services, and we often find that we learn a lot from parents at these sessions. We are also adding a directory with visual mapping, so that families can search for services close to home. If a family is looking for a speech therapist within 10 miles from home, we want them to be able to visit our site and do just that.