Resources for Individuals and Families With Disabilities or Special Needs
Raising a child is challenging on its own; when a child has additional emotional, intellectual, or physical needs, it can be too much for even the most experienced parent to handle alone. Fortunately, you are not alone: below are some of the best organizations, programs, and resources available to help you and your family thrive while managing any type of disability or special needs condition.
These resources cover everything from early childhood to adulthood, and can even help you if you are managing a disability yourself and need independent living information or support. Whether you or a family member was born with a handicap or became disabled later on, here you’ll find answers to common questions, and resources for every stage of life.
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Organizations: Charities, Nonprofits, Programs, and Advocacy Groups
These resources will help you begin your education. You’ll get to learn about the basic rights and legal protections afforded to those with disabilities or special needs, as well as some basic financial protections and benefits you or your family may be able to access, including Social Security benefits. If you are a parent just trying to understand and prepare for your child’s condition, require some assistance with basic needs like mobility, or simply want to reach the larger community of people dealing with similar issues, the resources below will help you get started.
- The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): What It Is and What You Need to Know
- Social Security Disability Benefits Basics
- Children With Special Needs: Major Organizations and Programs to Learn More
- Nonprofits and Charities Providing Financial Help Raising Children With Disabilities
- Mobility Assistance and Handicapped Transportation Solutions
- Adaptive Sports, Recreation, and Community Resources for Special Needs Individuals
Parents: Raising and Caring for Children With Special Needs
These resources will help parents raising or expecting a child with special needs get proactive and prepare for their family’s journey. Many types of disabilities require special medical care or equipment, which can be both expensive and intimidating for new parents. Likewise, not all children will grow up to be fully autonomous adults, and may need some financial provision even after their parents are gone. You’ll find the information you need to consider and steps you can take below:
- Raising a Child With Special Needs: Parenting Resources
- Financial Planning Basics for Parents of Children With Disabilities
- Special Needs Trust Funds
- Letters of Intent for Special Needs Children: What It Is and Why You Need One
- 529 Able Savings Accounts for Your Special Needs Child
Education: From K-12 Special Education to College and Beyond
Education matters for everyone: from parents navigating early childhood programs and wanting to know more about special education laws and services, to parents of college students and even college graduates struggling with student loans. There are academic resources, financial aid programs, and important laws to know at every level of education, whether you are personally disabled or have a family member with any kind of special needs condition.
- SPED: Special Education Basics and FAQs for Parents
- Student Loan Forgiveness for Total Disability
- Service-Related Disability and Student Loan Forgiveness Through the VA
- Student Loan Forgiveness for Parents of Children With Disabilities
Teens, Young Adults, and Transitioning to Independence and Adulthood
Making the transition to adulthood and independence can be particularly fraught for both parents their children. Employment, healthcare, and housing opportunities and needs will vary according to a person’s level of autonomy. College and professional development will not look the same for everyone, but there are options no matter your background or health status. You can learn how to understand what independence means for different individuals, and how to find appropriate solutions to housing, higher education, and protecting your rights below:
- Post-High School Options and Transition Programs
- ADA Protections and Reasonable Accommodations for College Students
- Independent Living: Definitions, Considerations, and Resources for Adults With Disabilities
- Rent Assistance Programs for Adults and Families
- Housing Accommodations and Financial Resources for Adults and Families
- Utilities, Cash Aid, and General Financial Assistance
Jobs, Employment, and Self-Help
Legal rights and protections for individuals with disabilities or special needs can look a lot different in adulthood or in the workplace. Whether you have a medical condition or a physical handicap of any kind, it is important to know how to protect and advocate for yourself. Sharing your experiences with others going through a similar journey can also be a powerful way both to cope with your own challenges, and give others a hand up. The resources below will help you find work, recognize when your rights are being violated at work, and how to meet and be of service to others going through a journey like yours.