Plain Language Summary – How to Locate Services Available to Individuals with Developmental Disabilities: Caregiver Perspective

Many parents of children with developmental disabilities do not feel like they know enough about resources available to their child. This information sheet talks about some resources for people with developmental disabilities of different ages.

Note: Many of the following services are government funded and are not found in every state. This sheet gives information about services that can be found in most states.

Early Intervention

Early Intervention is a resource for kids age 0-3 that helps identify developmental. Infants and toddlers in early intervention programs have been shown to improve their hearing, vision, and language development.

Early intervention programs are free or available at a low cost for qualifying children with disabilities.  To find your state’s early intervention program, click here.

Individualized Education Programs (IEP)

Individualized Education Programs (IEP) are plans put together for individual students in grades K-12.  These plans include academic goals, services to help with goals, and how much time a student will spend in and out of a typical classroom. Students, parents, and school staff should meet before the school year begins and develop the IEP together. IEPs are an option for some children with disabilities. To find out more, contact your school’s counselor or special education teacher.

504 Plans

The primary purpose of a 504 plan is to prevent discrimination against people with disabilities in grades K-12. 504 Plans cover a range of disabilities and struggles that a child may face in school. These plans do not change the instruction given to a child but instead change the environment they learn in. Some examples of possible supports include a change in student seating, provided tutor/helper in the classroom, and an adjusted activity level in physical education.

Contact your school’s counselor or special education teacher. To learn more about services that may be available for your child at school visit the Understood webpage called School & Learning.

Guardianship and Supported Decision-Making

When an individual turns 18, rights are usually shifted from the parent to the individual. At this time, two options may be considered: guardianship or supported decision making. Guardianship is when a guardian makes all decisions for an individual, with the purpose of making good decisions for that person. Supported decision-making is when the individual has help from a group of trusted people with decision making, if it is needed. To decide what is best for the person with a disability, individuals should be informed of their options and decide what is best before moving forward with legal actions.

For more information about what your state requires for guardianship or other alternatives, go to the National Disability Rights Network website to find services close to you. For more information on your state’s options for supported decision making, visit the National Resource Center for Supported Decision Making website. You can also learn more in the MHDD information sheet called Guardianship and Supported Decision Making.

The Model Comprehensive Transition and Postsecondary Programs for Students with Intellectual Disabilities (TPSID)

TPSID grant awards provide opportunities to people with disabilities to attend colleges and universities. These grants help create programs that focus on bettering communication skills, educational success, independent living skills, and work experiences. To look for and find out more about colleges that offer programs, go to the Think College website.

More Resources

Parent Centers

Parent centers are found in every state and provide information to parents about their child’s disability. Parent centers also help connect people with local and state services. To find the center closest to you visit the Center for Parent Information & Resources website.

Developmental Disabilities Council

Every state has a Developmental Disabilities Council. These councils help inform public officials about issues that affect people with disabilities. They also teach people how to inform others and stand up for themselves.To find your state’s Developmental Disabilities Council click here.

The Arc

The Arc helps connect people with resources and offers support to families and individuals. They also help people with disabilities get hired at a job. For more information, contact The Arc near you or visit their find a chapter webpage.

Best Buddies

Best Buddies can be found in every state. Best Buddies helps people with disabilities form friendships, find employment, and leadership possibilities. Go to the Best Buddies United States Programs webpage to get in touch with your local Best Buddies location.

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