Special Needs Planning: Why the Traditional Planning Industry has it ALL BACKWARDS

Author: Phillip C. Clark, Founder and President, ENABLE Special Needs Planning, LLC


Consider these statements…

  • “My child won’t ever be able to do ____.”
  • “We need to figure out how we are going to support our child when we, as parents, are gone.”
  • “How can we make sure our government benefits cover all of our expenses?”
  • “We have to make sure you have a sound strategy to fund your Special Needs Trust.”

These statements–uttered by both parents and professionals–are made daily because my industry has made special needs planning into a process that is focused on keeping families stuck with limited expectations and a limited mindset about the future.

At ENABLE, we are here to change that.


Now, consider these contrasting statements instead…

  • “Your child has amazing abilities that are unique to him or her!”
  • “Your child has an abundant future with amazing potential!”
  • “My child’s abilities need to be the focus of our future planning conversations.”
  • “My child will be able to live a life that is purposeful and impactful to others.”


Which conversation would you rather have?


Special Needs Planning should be about creating an abundant life and future for our loved ones that is unique and tailored to his or her own abilities, hopes, and dreams. Sure, we need to address challenges, roadblocks, and bumps along the way. We all face those. But when we think about our own lives, we don’t only focus on challenges.

Why should planning for the future of our loved ones with special needs be any different?

If we only focus on what happens if and when we as parents are no longer here OR if we only focus on the limitations that we see today—the outcome of our planning process is going to be just that—limited.


Northwestern Mutual conducted a study in 2015 finding that only 33% of families have a written plan for their family’s future.

From what our team at ENABLE has seen as we’ve traveled the country working with families—that percentage appears to be even smaller for families who have loved ones with special needs!

Because most special needs planning conversations are focused on life’s “What If’s” and only address how to overcome challenges, it’s easy to understand why families don’t want to have these conversations. Or, if they do start planning, it is the reason why they don’t follow through on the planning strategies recommended to them by industry professionals.


But what would happen if we were to change all of that? What if the focus of planning was to answer the question: “What does a purposeful and impactful life look like for your child today? AND every day in the future?”

All families need to plan for the future–typical or otherwise–but the need to develop a plan now is exponentially more important for families who have a loved one with special needs.

  • Have the planning conversations you’ve had been focused primarily on your child’s unique hopes, goals, and dreams?
  • Are you confident that your special needs plan was designed so that your child has every opportunity to live a life that allows his or her unique abilities to shine?
  • Are the planning strategies you’ve implemented been selected to ensure that your child can live a GREAT life today, tomorrow, and every day in the future?  

If you answered “NO” to any of these questions—or you’ve hesitated to even begin having these types of planning conversations because you didn’t want to be pushed toward adopting a limited mindset about your child’s future—we need to have a conversation.


At ENABLE, we believe that your child was made on purpose, and for a purpose. We believe that your child has the ability to live an impactful life where he or she makes a difference in the lives of others. We also believe that our conversations about the future always need to be focused on your child’s unique abilities, hopes, goals, and dreams.

I’d love the opportunity to speak with you to learn about your family’s unique hopes, goals, and dreams. Email my team at info@ENABLEsnp.com or schedule a call with me today!

“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.”  ― Yogi Berra


“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry


“The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.” ― John F. Kennedy

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