Helping Your Special Needs Child

Parents who suspect their children have special needs can take several steps to make sure they get the support they need to help their children succeed. Find out some of these steps in these tips for parents.

Here are some helpful hints that may help in your search to meet your child's special needs.

  • Get help and advice right away if you have a concern about your child's development and learning. It may prevent some developmental delays.
  • Start by talking to your child's caregiver, doctor, or teacher.
  • Make notes and lists of questions for meetings.
  • Bring a friend or relative with you to give support when meeting with doctors and teachers.
  • Keep good records of shots, tests, letters from doctors and teachers, and notes from meetings, and put them in a file.
  • Learn all you can about your child's special needs.
  • Learn as much as you can about your legal rights under The Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).
  • Try to learn as much as you can about supports and services that can help you and your child.
  • As a parent or caregiver it is important to make sure that your child's education and environment meet his or her special needs.
  • Ask for changes if something is not working.
  • Imagine goals and dreams for your child and talk about them with others who know your child.
  • Your child has special abilities and talents. Use your child's abilities to create a plan to make the dreams come true.
  • You know your child best; set goals your child can reach.
  • Keep notes of your child's progress.
  • Get the support you need by joining a support group, or by talking to other parents, friends, or family members you can trust.
  • Brothers and sisters of children with special needs need support and attention, too.
  • Include your child with special needs in activities with all children, both with and without special needs.
  • Gather as much information as you can about programs your community offers children your child's age.
  • Be sure to look at your whole child: your child's strengths as well as the areas for which your child needs supports and services.
  • Do not give up when you know you are right!


Click the "References" link above to hide these references.

Ann G. Haggart Associates, Inc. (1993). Including All Children: Caregiving for Infants and Toddlers With Disabilities, Modules 1-10. Hampton, NH: Ann G. Haggart Associates, Inc.

Burke, E.P., M.S. Quigley, R. and A. Turnbull, et al. (1995). Improving the Implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act: Making Schools Work for All of America's Children. Washington, DC: National Council on Disability.

Chandler, P. (1994). A Place for Me: Including Children With Special Needs in Early Care and Education Settings. Second Edition. National Association for the Education of Young Children. Omaha, Nebraska: Family Services of Omaha.

Arizona Department of Education (1993). EVERY STEP COUNTS. Phoenix, AZ: Arizona Department of Education: Growth Chart by Child Find, Illinois State Board of Education.

Inclusionary Education for Students With Disabilities: Keeping the Promise. (1994). Washington DC: National Council on Disability.

Karp, N. (1994). Inclusion: A Right, Not a Privilege. A Resource Guide for Families Whose Young Children Have Special Needs. Farmington, CT: University of Connecticut Health Center.

Lipsky, D.K. and A. Gartner. (1994). "INCLUSION: What it is, what it's not, and why it matters." Exceptional Parent.

Rebhorn, T. and C. Takemoto. (1994). Unlocking the Door: A Parent's Guide to Inclusion. Fairfax, VA: Parent Educational Advocacy Training Center.

Santelli, B, A.P. Turnbull, E. Lerner, and J. Marquis. (1993). Parent to Parent Programs: A Unique Form of Mutual Support for Families of Persons with Disabilities. In G.H.S. Singer and L. E. Powers (Eds), Families, Disability, and Empowerment: Active Coping Skills and Strategies for Family Interventions. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co.

Singer, George H.S. and Laurie Powers. (1993). Families, Disability, and Empowerment: Active Coping Skills and Strategies for Family Interventions. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co.

Turnbull, Ann P. and H. Rutherford, III. (1990). Families, Professionals, and Exceptionality: A Special Partnership. Second Edition. New York: Macmillan.

Washington, V., V. Johnson, and J. McCracken. (1995). Success: Preparing Schools and Families for Each Other. Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children.

Wolery, Mark and Jan S. Wilbers. (1994). Including Children With Special Needs in Early Childhood Programs. NAEYC Research Monograph Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children,

Zipper, I.N., C. Hinton, M. Weil, and K. Rounds. (1992). Family-Centered Service Coordination: A Manual for Parents. Chapel Hill, NC: Frank Porter Graham Child Development Center, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Excerpted from: Gruskin, S. & Silverman, K. with Bright, V. (April, 1997). Including Your Child. U.S. Department of Education.


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