Some children have needs that are not fully served by a typical school curriculum and parents often struggle to ensure an appropriate educational experience and a secure future for their special needs child.
When a child has been diagnosed with a special need or learning delay, it is important for parents to know your rights and learn about the free quality special education services provided by the Department of Education.
Parents can also stay informed and feel supported by connecting with the many resources available to help. A brief list follows.
General Information and Referral
Resources for Children with Special Needs, Inc.
is the New York City organization that works to connect families with the appropriate resources for their needs. Consult with one of their staff members by phone (212-677-4650) or make an appointment to speak to someone in person about educational programs and legal, medical and social support services. Their website includes a free searchable database of programs and services in NYC.
Advocates for Children of NYC
offers a toll-free Education Hotline, parent education and training programs, and over ten guides for parents with children with special needs, including how to secure appropriate education services for your preschool age child, special education services in NYC public schools, a timeline of the special education assessment and referral process, and more.
All Kinds of Minds
Parent Toolkit offers tips on appreciating, celebrating, and managing differences. The Resources section provides tips and resources for students and parents.
NYU Child Study Center
focuses primarily on learning disabilities and mental health of children, the AOK Library has many helpful articles, a glossary of terms and a list of print resources and organizations a monthly e-mail newsletter provides current information on parenting and mental health topics.
CHADD - Children and Adults with ADHD
provides education, advocacy and support for those with ADHD and their families. Find out about national conferences, connect with others in your area, or become a member and receive Attention magazine.
NAMI - National Alliance on Mental Illness
offers an information helpline as well as online resources for children, teens, and adults who are affected by mental illness. NAMI also provides referrals to lawyers experienced in working with cases pertaining to mental illness. An active NYC chapter sponsors a Parent-Match program, support groups for parents of children with special needs and many additional programs that are free or low-cost.
VESID - Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities
from the NYS Education Department. The goal of VESID is to make sure that all individuals with disabilities are provided with the services and protections that are guaranteed under the law. They work with schools and familites to promote equal education for disabled students. They also have vocational rehab services and independent living services for adults with disabilities.
YAI/National Institute for People with Disabilities
is an award-winning organization that strives to help people with developmental disabilities reach their fullest potential. They provide a wide range of services for people of all ages in and around New York and New Jersey.
New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Service and Information offers an online directory of providers to NYC residents. The website outlines programs and services available to NYC residents with developmental disabilities.
NYS Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities
partners with a number of agencies across the state, providing a wide range of services. On their website you can find regulations, news, commonly used forms and other publications pertaining to mental retardation and developmental disabilities.
Early Intervention Services
offers evaluation services, education, and therapies for children from birth to five years old. Their team of professionals speaks many different languages. They provide service for children with physical, language, cognitive, and emotional developmental delays. They also have services for children with autism and other PDDs. Many of their services are free to families in New York City.
New York State Early Intervention Program
is part of a national program under IDEA. This program provides services for disabled and developmentally delayed children under age 3.
The NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
provides information about how early intervention services work and includes a listing of NYC-area service providers.
is a resource for all types of learning disabilities. The site features areas for parents and kids, has experts who answer your questions, and features a store that sells a wide variety of tools and resources.
National Center for Learning Disabilities
has a parent center where you can chat with other parents, get information about important legislation like IDEA and NCLB, and search for local resources. Addresses learning disabilities across the lifespan.
Hunter Elementary School
a NYC publicly funded school for intellectually gifted children, answers the question "What is Gifted?"
National Association for Gifted Children
includes a user-friendly parent section, state-specific information, publications, and list of summer programs for gifted children.
U.S. Department of Education
provides lengthy listing of resources related to gifted children in the parents section.
NYC Department of Education
The Resources of Parents section includes a G&T handbook and information on how to apply to citywide programs.