Raising Special Needs Kids in NYC: Must-Try Resources for Parents
Families with special needs kids are often on the hunt for new resources, new speech therapy techniques, and more advocacy groups that can help their youngsters. If you live in New York City, there is a wealth of local resources that can help you. New York City is famous for many things: its stereotypically unfriendly denizens, its dangerous subway platforms, and its air pollution that blocks the starry night sky and inspires neon substitutes. It’s not often thought of as a great place to raise kids, particularly special needs kids. But if you know where to look, there really are lots of resources in NYC to help your family. This guide to raising special needs kids in NYC takes the work out of the search; check out our recommended resources below.
Special Needs Activity Center for Kids
The Special Needs Activity Center for Kids (SNACK) was created by Jackie Ceonzo. Ceonzo was inspired to create the program after a fruitless search for a suitable program for her son, Joey, who has autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The SNACK staff understands the challenges that families with special needs kids face. They offer programming for children ages 3 – 18, as well as classes for parents and other resources. During the classes for kids, youngsters will learn about social skills while having fun. The classes also emphasize language development. Some sessions feature collaboration with speech therapists from City Sounds of NY. Judging by its FAQs page, the SNACK program is highly flexible and welcomes a diversity of children, regardless of level of functioning.
Resources for Children with Special Needs
The Resources for Children with Special Needs (RCSN) organization is dedicated to helping families with special needs kids advocate for their youngsters. It was founded in 1983 by three concerned moms with special needs kids. RCSN connects other professionals to families with the goal of humanizing the special education process. They are particularly focused on helping kids gain access to education, support therapies, and subsequent employment.
RCSN works across all five boroughs and boasts a bilingual (English/Spanish) staff. You can view their menu of workshops and events on their website. Sample workshops include “Your Top 5 Rights in Special Education” and “Can Assistive Technology Help Your Child?” Contact RCSN at (212) 677-4650.
In addition to these organizations for special needs kids, don’t forget about government resources. Here’s the website for the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene – Early Intervention. You’ll find basic information for the program, as well as links to information categorized by borough and language. NYC also offers busing for kids in early intervention, but you’ll have to make sure that your child’s Individualized Family Services Plan (IFSP) provides for it. Contact your IFSP service coordinator for more information. If your child is older and in special education, NYC offers a comprehensive website loaded with IEP and other special education info.
- Use the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s (ASHA) speech therapist finder tool to locate a qualified speech-language pathologist (SLP) near you.
- Visit the Children’s Museum of Arts – word has it that the staff is extremely well-versed in the needs of kids with disabilities and goes out of their way to make every child feel welcome.
- Check out the sensory-friendly screenings at AMC Theatres.
- Check out the concert calendar for Music for Autism – the website even includes a social story to use with your child.
- Consider the programming and parent workshops at the Brooklyn Public Library’s The Child’s Place for Children with Special Needs.