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Helping Hands for Main Line Families with Special Needs

You can rely on the support and services of these area organizations that not only advocate for children with special needs, but the people who care for them.

Parents of kids with special needs don’t see a disability when they look at their child; they see a miracle. They see someone special and unique. They see their child. Still, even the most resilient of parents needs some reassurance every now and then.

Asking for help doesn’t mean you’re giving up, and it doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong, either. Support programs and coaching groups are dedicated to help parents and siblings understand, and appreciate, the unexpected challenges that come with having a family member with a special need.

Taking the time to attend a meeting, a class, or a group means that you’re taking a step toward better understanding what challenges lie ahead, what other parents are thinking, and what to expect in the future. It means you’re doing something to better yourself, your family, and your child.

These programs help bring together community members with a common goal: to give the best possible care to those loved ones in your life with special needs. By promoting awareness, and the understanding that you can ask for help, these organizations, and many more like them, are available for parents and siblings in your community.

These local programs are available in Philadelphia and on the Main Line. They provide support and resources for families with special needs children in our community.

The Vanguard School offers comprehensive student-focused special education and related clinical services. Students receive individualized academic, behavioral and vocational programming with a focus on functional, emotional and social skills development. The Vanguard school is committed to helping each student reach their greatest possible independence.

Kids at Play is a state of the art indoor multi-sensory playground and therapy center based in East Falls. Their pediatric therapy services, including speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy, are provided in a setting most conducive to positive outcomes.

The Pennsylvania Branch, International Dyslexia Association (PBIDA) champions individuals with dyslexia and all students learning to read. They provide education and resources to increase awareness about dyslexia and promote best practices for teaching reading based on scientific research.

Sibshops acknowledges that being the brother or sister of a child with special needs comes with it’s own unique challenges. This sibling support project revolves around the idea that sibling have so much to offer one another. Through games, discussion, and new friends, Sibshops strengthens the bond between siblings through a positive, and encouraging environment.

The Special Kids Network at CAP4Kids is a statewide service that connects parents with resources and support within their communities. Summer camps, therapies, MA questions, and support services are all included. They also provide insight on private schools and education plans throughout Pennsylvania.

Spectra Support Services specializes in Autism Spectrum and related disorders by providing holistic based support for individuals and their families. They offer group and family therapy, and family support courses, in their homes and at their Broomall office.

ARConnections of Chester County is an advocacy group that supports, empowers, connects, and informs parents about special needs equality, education support, and family services. They frequently have conferences, workshops, and training opportunities that focus on transitions, school, and family members.

Prompt and Play Wellness is a place for kids and teens to learn and develop social skills through exploration and play. This playhouse provides both individual and group classes including mentoring, life skills, therapy, adapted PE, and creative expressions. They also have family support with parent-facilitated support groups and “welcome to the neighborhood” sessions. They are constantly adding new groups and programs to fit the needs of the local community, so if you’re looking to start one — they want to help.

The Greater Philadelphia Autism Society promotes lifelong access and opportunities for persons within the autism spectrum and their families, to be fully included, participating members of their communities through advocacy, public awareness, education and research related to autism. They have an active ASA Philly Facebook page worth checking out too!

Sunshine Therapy Club, Inc. is a service that provides early intervention, occupational therapy, speech therapy, physical therapy, and special instruction for kids ages 0 to 3. Their mission is to empower families, so that they in return can empower their children. They have a “For Parents” area on their website, where parents can talk to other families, ask questions, read stories, or post their own.

Main Line Art Center’s Accessible Art Programs for adults and children with developmental and physical disabilities, at-risk youth, and low income families have encouraged thousands of individuals to explore their imagination and creativity through the visual arts. Led by caring and experienced Teaching Artists and dedicated volunteers both onsite at Main Line Art Center and in partner locations, these programs offered free or at a very low cost.

A Step Up Academy
Autism Support Preschool – 4th grade

Ayesha Ganges, MA, CCC/SLP
Speech-Language Pathologist Prompt Level II Trained DIR/Floortime Trained Clinician

Foundations for Growing, LLC
Pediatric speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy

The Friendship Circle
Building friendships between teen volunteers to youth with special needs.

GSL & Associates, Merrill Lynch
Special needs planning and care coordination.

Camphill Special School
Serving children with ID and Autism K-12.

Dr. Margot Burke
Child psychologist with services for developmental delays and mental health issues.

The Focus Foundation
Identifying and helping children with X & Y Variations.

Hill Top Preparatory School
For Grades 5-12 with diagnosed learning differences

Individualized Jewish, secular and social curriculum, instruction, and environment to our students with special needs.

Overbrook School for the Blind

Serving students with visual impairment and blindness.

The Pathway School
An approved private school for students with special needs.

The Quaker School at Horsham
A coed Friends school serving children with complex learning needs in grades K through 9.

Social Enrichment Center
Social skills groups.

TALK Institute and School
Full-day speech and language school.

Valley Forge Educational Services
Support, education and guidance for children and young adults with special needs

Y.A.L.E. School Philadelphia
Where evidence-based learning and compassion come together.

Elizabeth Fisler contributed to this article.

Founder & CEO, Family Focus Media | Creator for Main Line Parent, Philadelphia Family, & Bucks County Parent | Connect with me on Instagram @sarahbondfocus or email sarah@familyfocus.org.