As the parent or caregiver of a special needs individual, it is important to choose the right special needs organization to get involved with. Numerous organizations across the country work tirelessly for the inclusion of people with special needs through education, hands-on training, rehabilitation and advocacy programs. Whether you want to explore resources for your loved one or are looking for somewhere to volunteer, these special needs organizations are worth a look.
Federation for Children with Special Needs (FCSN)
This national organization oversees over 15 projects providing support to families whose children have special educational and healthcare needs, with particular support for culturally, linguistically and economically underserved communities. Its services are organized into five “Centers:” Special Education to Parents, Family Support, Health Advocacy, Family and Community Engagement, and Parent-Professional Leadership.
FCSN is a strong advocate for inclusion and diversity, and most staff members are parents or family members of children with disabilities.
Founded in 1919 and with 75 locations across the nation, Easter Seals assists people with physical and mental disabilities. Its autism programs offer interventions for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) using teams of therapists, teachers and other health professionals. Another key service is support for people with disabilities, seniors and veterans seeking employment.
This special needs organization identifies job skills and connects people with resources like assistive technology and accessible transportation. It is also the largest provider of recreation and camping services for people with disabilities. Easter Seals’ Respite Services offer short-term or temporary care for loved ones, including adult daycare and childcare. Connect with Easter Seals through your local chapter.
With over 600 local chapters and 1,000 national and community programs, The Arc is the largest national community-based special needs organization protecting and promoting the rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and their families. It provides services to individuals of all ages and diagnoses including autism, Down syndrome, Fragile X syndrome and other developmental disabilities. Its key initiatives are: Criminal Justice (providing legal counsel for individuals with I/DD), Arc@School (enabling I/DD individuals to graduate and obtain a college education), Arc@Work (helping corporate clients hire and retain talented job seekers with disabilities), health education, residential support, and leisure and recreational programs. Find your local chapter here.
Parent to Parent USA
Parent to Parent USA matches parents who have children with similar special needs. This gives each parent a contact for information, support and friendship. The Parent to Parent network is a growing national resource for families operating at state, regional and local community levels.
Founded in 2005, Autism Speaks is the largest autism advocacy organization in the United States. Through partnerships and collaborations, this special needs organization is committed to raising global understanding and acceptance of people with autism, enhancing early childhood screening and necessary interventions, helping the transition to adulthood, and providing access to reliable information and services. Autism Speaks funds research that investigates the causes and treatments of ASD. Its outreach activism is aimed towards families and public sectors.
Lexington Services is dedicated to providing a fun learning environment that helps children with autism and other special needs achieve their full potential. This year, along with our non-profit Lexington Education Foundation (LEF), we are the proud sponsors of the 15th annual Autism Speaks Walk.
Join us for this great cause on Saturday, October 31 at 9 a.m. Meanwhile, don’t forget to follow us!