Children with special needs, their families and friends, face many obstacles beyond their specific disorder, disability, medical and/or physical challenges. Luckily, there is support available for their unique and individual struggles through the form of advocacy groups.
While parents are the most important advocates for their special needs children, there is still plenty of help available in California, here are just a few of the many:
TASK (Team of Advocates for Special Kids) is based in Southern California with six locations from Anaheim to Riverside and all across the Greater Los Angeles area. Initially their primary focus was serving those age three to twenty-one, but they have expanded to include those from birth up to age twenty-six.
In addition to a wealth of connections to special resources, events calendar, technical assistance, articles and newsletters, TASK also has a video page that highlights, amongst other things, a touching piece from a young woman suffering from Aphasia, who offers tips on how to communicate with people who have speech disorders.
Parents Helping Parents (PHP) is located in the San Francisco Bay Area, specifically in San Jose, but services all of the region. Complete with a library on location, their downtown office is conveniently located right off Interstate 280 and is a unique resource for disability-specific conditions.
On their website, you’ll find a vast listing of services available all across the Bay Area, which provides searchable returns according to topic, location, keywords, services and different conditions. They also offer an events calendar, a special education section with even more resources and link to special interest groups.
UCLA, University of California Los Angeles, has an Education Advocacy Service through their Civil Rights Project on their website under Resources and Community Tools. Here they offer an extensive list of agencies in the Greater Los Angeles area that provide a variety of services for children with special needs.
They ask parents to have their child’s latest report card and IEP (Individualized Education Plan) available before contacting agencies that provide assistance with:
- Assessments and educational planning
- Healthcare and benefits
- Mental health issues, problems and concerns
- Disability rights
- Parent resource network
Most of these programs are designed and geared towards those families with low incomes.
Advocacy Associates, Inc. is a private company that assists those in San Diego and San Bernardino as a paid, active advocate for your child’s educational assessment, planning and placement. They are available for:
- Special needs assessment and review
- Classroom observations and consultants with staff
- Consultation and coordination of services with agencies
- Attendance at school and regional meetings
- Review of IEP’s and 504 plans
- Development of plans and strategies to improve learning
While this type of aggressive approach may not be affordable, they do have an excellent resource page with associative FAQ’s available on their website.
The California Special Needs Law Group (CSNLG) is based in Costa Mesa, but they offer their legal assistance specific to those with special needs all across the State of California. Since they specialize in this practice, they are very well-versed in IEP’s advocate for special needs education and appropriate legal advice. Their mission is guided by three, important principles that the maintain:
- Providing excellent legal services
- Building solid and trusting relationships with their clients and children
- Providing affordable and cost effective legal counseling and representation.
Their primary focus is on providing children with the FAPE (Free Appropriate Public Education) that the deserve from their LEA (Local Educational Agency).