Many different resources are available to help you and your special needs child. As special needs can encompass a wide range of abilities–physical disabilities that affect mobility, hearing impairments, vision impairments, congenital conditions, and more–the resources and services listed below consider all of the needs of your child:
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is one of the most important pieces of legislation relating to children with special needs, and applies to issues like employment, transportation, access to public facilities, and access to various forms of telecommunications. If a person, group, or organization is in violation of the ADA by their refusal to help you, reminding them of this may be enough to change their minds.
Emphasizing people who have developmental disabilities (including, but not limited to, low IQ, autism, epilepsy, and so on), this department of California’s government provides various services and support at a wide range of facilities. As noted on their website, individuals who qualify for support are generally eligible for services throughout the rest of their life, most of which are provided for free.
The California Department of Rehabilitation, often referred to as the DOR, emphasizes helping people with special needs find employment and develop the skills they need to live independently. They’re also in a good position to determine whether or not a given individual will ever be able to do live independently, or if they’ll need full care and support for the rest of their lives.
Services here include employment counseling, placement assistance, mobility aids, and many other services. Their activities are limited to residents of California, but are available to people with all types and all severities of disabilities. These services will start to become available to your child when they’re in High School, and are geared towards smoothing the transition between the end of public school and the start of college or a career.
The Special Needs Network is an independent, non-profit organization that specializes in helping people with developmental disabilities, particularly in areas that are considered under-served by the Department of Developmental Services and other official resources. If the DDS can’t help you, there’s a chance the SNN can.
They emphasize early detection of developmental disabilities, since this can make all the difference for children suffering from learning disabilities. If you’re in an under-served community and worried that your child needs assistance, consider contacting them today and asking if they can help.
Are you feeling confused about special education, and how it works for your child? At the California Special Needs Law Group, we specialize in advocacy and support, but we’re certainly not the only resource you should be using. The Special Education Guide is an outstanding reference, offering resources like a Special Needs Dictionary (so you can understand many of the terms you’ll see here), some basic Disability Profiles (to help you understand what services your child may qualify for), and even some resources for parents who’d like to make a career out of helping the children who need it the most.
Need more help?
Check with local community centers, churches, nonprofits, and other organizations. Your child’s needs are important, and while these places may not be able to help directly, they can often help you find someone who can.