The internet can be a lifeline for parents of children with special needs. After all, finding the right support, information and advice whilst navigating your special needs journey is essential.
Below, SpecialKids Company lists 10 of the best websites for parents of children with special needs.
You may or may not be a fan of the world’s biggest social media site, but there is no denying that Facebook is a fantastic resource for parents of children with special needs. There are numerous support groups, pages and blogs that you can follow.
From pages to help with equipment advice and DLA support to groups to share Christmas present ideas with other parents. You can find groups relating specifically to your child’s condition and talk with parents who are walking similar paths.
Don’t forget to give SpecialKids Company a follow on Facebook too!
Special Needs Jungle is a parent-led website, which aims to provide information, resources and informed opinion regarding children and young people from birth to 25 years of age. You can find advice on education and Education Health Care Plans (EHCP), disability, health conditions and rare diseases. There are also some fantastic blogs to read.
IPSEA a special education information website for parents offers free and independent legally based information, advice and support for parents in England in order to get the right education for your child with special needs. They also offer training on the special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) framework to parents, carers, professionals and other organisations.
The IPSEA website has free legal guides and resources and contact details so that you can speak to advisors about educational issues and SEND tribunals
If you live in Scotland, Enquire offers a similar service. It’s website provides a telephone helpline, guides, factsheets and outreach work. There is lots of advice for both parents and professionals.
Snap Cymru is the Welsh equivalent of the aforementioned sites, offering free, impartial advice, support and information for children and young people in special education in Wales. They offer a telephone helpline, specialist casework, independent specialist advocacy and disagreement resolution.
Last but not least, if you are based in North Ireland, SENAC provides independent advice and advocacy on behalf of children and young people up to the age of 19 who attend school and have special educational needs.
Charities and Other Local Resources For Special Needs
Whizz-Kidz is a fantastic charity which provides disabled children with essential wheelchairs and mobility equipment. If your child is missing a mobility aid that could help to transform their life, it is worthwhile contacting Whizz-Kidz to see if they can help you.
Whizz-Kidz also offer free events, such as wheelchair skills training and clubs for children and young people all around the UK.
Finding the right place to go on holiday when you have a child with special needs can be daunting. Limitless Travel can help make the decision of where to go easier for you. It is an accessible tour operator, which features properties in the UK and abroad. Founded and run by people with disabilities, they promise "stress free, worry free and hassle free accessible travel".
According to the charity Scope, life costs more if you are disabled. Equipment for children with special needs can be expensive. However, you might be eligible for a grant that could help you to purchase a much-needed item.
The Disability Grants website is a useful tool in exploring the different grants available for children with disabilities. From Family Fund to Cauldwell Children, there are lots of different charities to explore.
Cerebra is a charity that offers a range of services and support for families who have children with brain conditions. There is a sleep advice service, a book and toy library, parent guides and factsheets.
One of the things that they have created, which is extremely helpful is the Cerebra free guide to Disability Living Allowance (DLA). Those of you who have filled out a DLA form know that it can be an overwhelming and daunting task. Cerebra’s guide takes parents through all of the questions and offers advice if you wish to appeal the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) decision.
If your child requires a Changing Places toilet - a 12m2 room with a peninsular toilet, an adult-sized, height-adjustable changing bench and ceiling track hoist - then it is important that you are aware of the Changing Places toilet map. The official map is kept up-to-date by the Changing Places toilet consortium and allows you to search for facilities by geographical location.
There are lots of websites for various conditions and diagnoses, but what if your child is disabled but has no overarching diagnosis? SWAN UK is the only dedicated support network available for families of children and young adults with undiagnosed genetic conditions in the UK.
Approximately 6000 children are born every year with no diagnosis to explain their symptoms and conditions. SWAN UK provide a support network to help families feel less isolated. They have a fantastic Facebook group that enables and empowers parents and run events throughout the UK so that families can meet one another.
Merlin’s Magic Wand is a great charity that provides magical experiences for children living in the UK who have a disability. You can apply to the charity for free tickets and a contribution towards a travel grant for a family day out at a Merlin Entertainments’ attraction. This includes Alton Towers and CBeebies Land, LEGOLAND Resort theme parks and SEA LIFE Centres.
What websites do you recommend?
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Swimming is a fantastic inclusive activity to do with children with special needs. It’s a great sensory experience that is good fun and has positive benefits for both physical and mental health. It is also an activity that can be done all year round and doesn’t have to be weather dependent (depending on where you choose to swim!).