Resources and Publications
Resources for Families Who Have Children with Special Needs
Your Existing Team of Service Providers:
Your child’s pediatrician, therapists, child care providers or teachers are there to support your family. This team will give you strategies for working with your child and they can make referrals to specialists and service providers as needed. Often times doctors, therapists, and educators know of community resources that can be of help to your family. If you have questions or concerns about your child’s development, have needs that are not being met, or are wondering where you can turn for help, this group is your first line of support.
Your County’s Department of Health and Human Services
There are many important government programs for children with special needs. To learn about Early Intervention/Birth to Three, Children’s Long Term Support, Family Support, and other family resources, visit your county’s disability services website. There you will find basic information on programs that may be available to your child. The website will also offer eligibility, contact and referral information.
A.L.A.S. (Alianza Latina Aplicando Soluciones)
Accessing resources can be especially difficult for families who encounter a language barrier. A.S.A.S. helps Spanish speaking families with special needs children by providing advocacy, educational workshops, parent support groups, family events, community building activities, and service referrals.
Autism Society of Southeastern Wisconsin
Parents of children with autism can find information and referrals, networking opportunities, workshops, parent-to-parent forums, youth programs and support groups through our community’s Autism Society.
Best Buddies is dedicated to ending social, physical and economic isolation for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. In Wisconsin they offer One-to-One Friendship and Leadership Development Programs. Programming is designed to help your child expand his/her social network.
Family Activity Center at St. Francis Children’s Center
Located within St. Francis Children’s Center is the Family Activity Center, a free, play-based space for parents and their children with special needs. Families can drop-in for free play or take advantage of structured activities that encourage socialization and bonding.
Family Voices of Wisconsin
Family Voices is a trusted resource on health care for children with special needs. Part of a national network, they provides families with tools to make informed decisions, advocate for improved public and private policies, build partnerships among providers and families, and help families connect to one another through their Family Action Network.
First Stage Children’s Theater – Next Steps
Using research-based best practices, Next Steps Theater Academy classes serve young people by teaching life skills through stage skills. First Stage strives to help each student take his or her next steps as an artist and a person. In the Next Steps program, verbal and non-verbal students, students with classic autism, PDD-NOS, other sensory processing disorders, and Asperger's are welcomed. With small class sizes, the curriculum explores acting, singing, dancing and improvisation, through which students improve social understanding, fine and gross motor skills, empathy, conversation skills, public speaking and confidence.
Located in Fox Point, GiGi’s Playhouse is a one-of-a-kind achievement center for children with Down syndrome, their families, and the community. Families will find more than 30 therapeutic and educational programs that advance literacy, math skills, motor skills and more.
Islands of Brilliance
Islands of Brilliance is a learning experience developed specifically for children and young adults on the autism spectrum. Classes are designed to provide students with focus, socialization, and confidence. Each student is matched 1:1 with a mentor—a volunteer from the professional creative services industry. Together, “creative teams” work on a project—from initial sketches through building it using Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator—that results in a colorful 18″ x 24″ poster each student takes home. In addition to completing the class with an expanded knowledge of software design tools, students leave with intangibles that are far broader and more important—a collaborative experience, sharing and presentation opportunities, conversation, friendship, and most of all a sense of accomplishment.
Miracle League of Milwaukee
The Miracle League believes everyone deserves the chance to play baseball. The league allows all children to play organized baseball, regardless of ability. Kids with special needs dress in uniforms, make plays in the field and round the bases, just like their peers. Miracle League baseball is played on a custom-designed field featuring a cushioned, rubberized, completely flat surface to prevent injuries and allow access for the visually impaired and those in wheelchairs. All areas of the field, including the dugouts and restrooms, are universally accessible. Visit their website to learn how to get your child involved.
The Southeast Regional Center of Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin
If you have questions about resources that exist in our area, or want to access a peer network, the Southeast Regional Center is a great place to start. The Center is located within Children’s Hospital and is staffed by parents of special needs children, Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 pm. The Center’s website has helpful links and tools for parents.
Variety the Children’s Charity helps children with primary physical challenges access assistive equipment, transportation, and childhood experiences that insurance will not cover and families cannot afford. Contact Variety to find out if your family may qualify for services.
Understanding and navigating the educational landscape for special needs children can be nerve racking for many parents. WI Facets is there to help parents on this journey. From empowering caregivers to be educational advocates, to helping families understand Individualized Educational Programs (IEPs), to facilitating support groups, WI Facets is there to support families.
If your organization would like to be included on our resources list, please call St. Francis Children’s Center at (414)351-0450.