Families of Children With Disabilities Resource Guide

mother playing with young, wheel chair bound daughter in living room

Parenting any child requires dedication, care, and patience, but navigating life with a child who has a disability comes with a unique set of challenges. Families often find themselves engaged in a constant process of learning about the best support methods available and advocating for their child’s needs. Understanding the potential sources of help that are available can make this process much easier and empower both the child and their family.

A variety of organizations offer support for children with disabilities and their families, including education, advocacy, and tangible resources. Connecting with these entities can also help families to find emotional support from others who understand their experiences. A good example of such a major organization is the National Disability Rights Network, which advocates for the legal rights of the disabled. Another example is The Arc, which promotes and protects the rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. And United Cerebral Palsy’s mission is to support the independence of people with cerebral palsy and other disabilities. Each of these associations plays an active role in enhancing families’ and children’s lives.

Early intervention is crucial to helping children with disabilities and developmental delays to have the best lives possible. The first three years of a child’s life are the most important to their cognitive, social, and emotional development. Early intervention services can encompass speech therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and special education. Access to these services may vary from region to region but typically requires a referral from a health provider or local health department. In the United States, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) ensures that states must provide early intervention services for eligible kids and their families.

Attending conferences can also help parents to learn about new approaches and policies affecting children with disabilities and find social support. These events include workshops, keynote speeches, and networking opportunities from which attendees can gain valuable insights and practical tools to support their children’s growth and well-being. Conferences can also provide a unique opportunity to build relationships with experts and other families, creating a supportive network that extends beyond the event.

Effective teaching techniques can make it easier for students with disabilities to learn and grow. For instance, multi-sensory classroom experiences, such as those that combine verbal instructions with hands-on activities, can greatly improve information retention and understanding. Establishing a structured routine helps create a predictable learning environment, reducing anxiety and improving focus. And breaking tasks into smaller, manageable steps can help students to feel a sense of accomplishment and maintain motivation. Incorporating assistive technology, like speech-to-text software or audiobooks, is also important, as it can make learning materials more accessible and engaging for children with varying needs.

Caring for a child with a disability can be expensive, but financial aid is available to help with specialized care and education costs. Organizations such as the United Healthcare Children’s Foundation and the Child Mind Institute provide grants and scholarships intended exclusively for children with disabilities. This money can be used for therapy, assistive technology, or other essential services. For older children, internship opportunities tailored for individuals with disabilities can provide invaluable work experience, enhance social skills, and promote independence. Programs like the Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP) in the U.S. work to connect employers with college students and recent graduates with disabilities, allowing them to move into the workforce.

Associations, Councils, Centers, and Societies

Early Intervention


Financial Aid and Internships

Teaching Tips

Additional Resources