handicap parking space (handicap parking placard for people with disabilities, autism)When our son with diagnosed with autism at age 2, I didn’t think I’d ever consider getting a handicap placard for our cars. When we had our second baby a week later, the reality of managing multiple children in a busy parking lot set in. Who do you take out of the carseat first? Should I use a stroller? Then how will I push a shopping carriage? Anyone with two children has been there — and most likely figured it out.

However, when I got pregnant with my third child, I realized I might never be able to leave my house again. How would I manage an unpredictable 5-year-old with special needs, a very mobile and precocious 2-year-old, plus a third baby, all while surrounded by traffic? The final straw was when my daughter nearly got hit in a parking lot while I was taking care of my son. I felt embarrassed. If I couldn’t manage these two while pregnant, how would I manage three kids?

I finally did it. I looked up how to get a handicap parking placard for my son so we could get those glorious front row spots. And I am so glad we did. It has changed many a “no” into a “yes.” It has kept us safe, reduced my stress, and saved us precious time. Our handicap placard has improved our lives.

We won’t have it forever, but right now, we need it.

I encourage all parents of children with special needs to consider carefully whether a handicap parking placard might be appropriate for your family. If we only had my autistic son, I don’t think we would needed a parking pass. But if you feel limited in where you can go because of safety in parking lots or stressful parking situations — or any other reason related to your child with a disability — please think about how this perk might benefit you!

Our placard is good for two years. If we feel like we need to renew it when our two years are up, we will. But we know at some point it will not be necessary — and we will be grateful it was available when we did need it. 

If you’re in a similar situation, here’s how to get disability plates and placards in Massachusetts.

Leah Lynch
Leah was raised in Greater Boston, where she met her husband in 2006. They moved to North Carolina for a few years before deciding their hearts were still in Massachusetts. Leah is a stay-at-home mom and has three children — boy, girl, boy — born in 2011, 2014, and 2017. Her oldest son in autistic. Children with disabilities — and the families raising them — have a special place in Leah's heart. She loves "The Office," date nights, tacos, U.S. history, and the beach. She enjoys sharing her experiences of motherhood, the good and the difficult, to encourage other moms that they are not alone. Loves: Great food (mostly made by her talented husband), playing with the kids, the beach, date nights, The Pats, The Sox, The B’s, new socks and bras, and American history, and movies. Can’t stand: Cotton balls, weeds, broken crayons, and country music