Websites Can Help You Find Support and Resources

by Deirdre C. Wright

Finding quality resources for addressing the needs of children with special needs is often difficult. It’s not uncommon to search on the Internet, but the online world can be difficult to navigate. How do we distinguish the good from the bad, the current from the outdated, accepted therapies from dubious “cures”?

The following compendium is meant to provide a roadmap, highlighting websites that serve as clearinghouses for a particular disability or specialty. In some cases, you’ll need to visit the national or state sites and look for a directory of chapters to get to local information.

Of particular interest are those that offer e-mail lists (listservs), an easy and free way to connect with others.

The Arc of the United States. A national organization with state and local affiliates serving children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Local sites offer news about services, events and advo-cacy. www.thearc.org

Autism Society of America (ASA). A national organization with chapters in Greater Philadelphia and Delaware. Both chapters offer listservs. A special feature of the Philadelphia site is a police and safety section. The Delaware chapter’s site offers a section just for kids. www.autism-society.org

CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder). A national organization with six area chapters. Links to local chapters provide support group meeting information. Some chapters offer e-mail groups. www.chadd.org

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). A national organization with state and local affiliates that offers support and advocacy. An “Inform Yourself” section provides detailed information on a variety of mental health diagnoses. www.nami.org

New Jersey Center for Outreach and Services for the Autism Community (COSAC). A statewide organization offering information, advocacy and more. This site provides detailed information on events and resources throughout New Jersey with special sections for families and professionals. www.njcosac.org

Parent to Parent of Pennsylvania (P2P).
P2P matches parents of children with special needs with other parents who have faced similar challenges. A “Get Matched!” form on the site allows families to fill out specific information about a child’s disability. www.parenttoparent.org

Parents Involved Network of Pennsylvania (PIN). A statewide organization assisting families of children with emotional and behavioral disorders. Fact sheets, pamphlets and newsletters can be downloaded from this site. www.pinofpa.org

Pennsylvania Parents & Caregivers Resource Network. A statewide, cross-disability, grassroots network focuses on developmental disabilities. The website provides an extensive listing of resources as well as information on advocacy, inclusion, and a how-to section on starting a support group. www.ppcrn.org

Pennsylvania Tourette Syndrome Association (PATSA). A statewide organization with a Main Line support group serving Delaware, Chester and Southwest Montgomery counties in PA. Support group information and education links are available at the site. www.patsainc.org

United Cerebral Palsy (UCP). National organization with state and local affiliates. Local sites provide information about special projects, events and services. www.ucp.org

Each Sunday this month, from 9:30-10:30am, the Blue Cross River Rink, Columbus Blvd. at Market St., Phila., is reserved for children with developmental disabilities. Children can skate in private sessions with parents and instructors. Skaters can be assisted by a helper who pushes them on the ice with specially provided sleds. 215-925-RINK, www.ucnet.com/riverrink

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The free 2005-2006 Guide to Services for Persons with Disabilities in Delaware lists services and resources including assistive technology, advocacy and support groups, housing, legal services, transportation, medical care and home health care. You can request a copy at 800-223-8074 or view it online at www.dsaapd.com

Deirdre C. Wright is a freelance writer specializing in children with challenges.