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What Kinds of Disabilities Resources and Special Needs Resources Are There?


What Kinds of Disabilities Resources and Special Needs Resources Are There?

What Kinds of Disabilities Resources and Special Needs Resources Are There?

There are a lot of resources available to people with disabilities and their families. Our mission is to make it easy to find, understand, and connect with the programs and services you need to care for and support your loved ones. Here we look at popular special education and healthcare programs.

Special Education

Every state has at least one Parent Training Information (PTI) center, whose services ensure that parents have the ability to prepare their children for school and help them lead productive, independent lives. 

Florida has three PTI programs that service three geographic regions of the state. These programs include POPIN, PSN, and PEN. They are all funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs. Each program provides free training and information to parents so they can make a positive impact in the lives of their children. Here are the full names of each program and how to find out more/ get in touch:

  • POPIN, or Parents Offering Parents Information and Networking. POPIN helps families across the Florida Panhandle and the upper east coast of Florida. Find their latest updates, events, and services. 
  • Parent Support Network. The program is the PTI center for Central and Northeast Florida. You can find more information at the PSN Facebook page
  • Parent Education Network. PEN serves the southernmost counties in Florida. See the latest events they have scheduled. 

Each of these programs offers free training and information to families of students with disabilities.

FND is your resource for meeting the challenges that comes with having a disability. We are here to answer your questions and share the information you need to advocate for your child. Call us at (727) 523-1130 or toll free at (800) 825-5736. You may also share your needs with us online.

Health and mental health

Family Support, Training, Assistance, and Resources (Family STAR) is the Family-to-Family Health Information Center (F2F HRC) of Florida. It is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

This program helps families of children with special healthcare needs to make informed decisions about health care for their children, providing:

  • Support
  • Training
  • Assistance
  • Resources

Our goal in sharing this resource is for families to be effective partners in healthcare decision-making at all levels and report satisfaction with the services they receive. Connect with Family STAR on Facebook. Need help now? Click here to get Family STAR support.

Transitioning to adulthood

Moving from high school into the responsibilities of adulthood is a major life event. For someone with disabilities, it’s especially important to have sound, patient guidance to make this transition feel fulfilling. 

Some of the questions you may want to ask your child include:

  • What hopes do you have for the future?
  • What do you need to achieve your dreams?
  • What kind of education do you hope to attain?

Our guide to Transition Planning for Students With Disabilities includes the information you need to take a methodical approach to helping your child prepare for adulthood:

  • Why it’s important to get a head start on the planning process
  • Checklists on what to do at each age of transition
  • The importance of the Individualized Education Program

Save this resource today and review it as a family so that you can take a proactive role in giving your child the care, services, and support they need to enter adulthood with confidence.

26750 U.S. Highway 19 North
Suite 410
Clearwater, FL 33761

(727) 523-1130
(800) 825-5736
Blog Post English

What Autism Resources Can I Use?


What Autism Resources Can I Use?

What Autism Resources Can I Use?

As a parent, you want to give your child the best chance to thrive and be happy. This effort may be more challenging if your child has autism, but the good news is that there are many agencies and services you can rely on. 

Autism is a developmental disability that significantly affects verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction. It’s generally evident before age three and can adversely affect a child’s educational performance. Below, see some of the resources that help with educating children with autism and that empower you and your child’s teachers to support their emotional and developmental progress.

Supporting a child with autism

Children with autism need a lot of patience and support, and we think the Autism Navigator is an excellent tool for helping you provide that love and support. In particular, look at their Family Resources section, where you’ll learn about:

  • Signs of autism in toddlers. We recommend their course, About Autism in Toddlers, which is a web-based series of slides and videos that you may complete at your own pace.
  • Common treatments for children with autism. You’ll learn about behavioral and developmental approaches. The most common developmental approach is Speech and Language Therapy. The behavioral approach uses what is called Applied Behavior Analysis
  • Resources for screening a child you think may have autism. Once resource we really like is This is an easy-to-navigate site where you can discover:
    • What autism looks like in toddlers
    • The importance of screening your child’s social communication activities
    • Early intervention resources if your child has autism

The sooner you verify that your child has autism and how it affects their life, the sooner you can improve their outcomes. 

Educating a child with autism

You’ll be an informed parent when you learn about the evidence-based practices that teachers follow and apply when teaching children with autism. You’ll also know what to expect from your child’s instructors and be able to have a dialogue with them on what is or isn’t working. 

For example: Did you know that the best practices for teaching children on the spectrum are based on applied behavior analysis? This process helps reinforce appropriate behavior and decrease challenging behavior. 

By knowing the key terms used by educators when helping students on the autism spectrum, you’ll be able to understand their approach and speak the same language. On this page, we’ve included a list of common terms, including:

  • FAPE. This refers to free appropriate public education services that are provided at public expense. It’s defined by the Individual With Disabilities Education Act.
  • IDEA. The Individuals With Disabilities Education Act was created to help state and local agencies provide special education and related services to children with disabilities.
  • IEP. The Individualized Education Program is a document designed to meet your child’s unique educational needs.

Not sure where to start? Have questions about your child and autism? Contact us and let us know how we can help.

26750 U.S. Highway 19 North
Suite 410
Clearwater, FL 33761

(727) 523-1130
(800) 825-5736
Blog Post Disability Awareness English

Where to Find Resources for Adults With Disabilities


Where to Find Resources for Adults With Disabilities

Where to Find Resources for Adults With Disabilities

Becoming an adult is more than being physically mature. It typically comes with greater independence and responsibilities. For adults with disabilities, they often require resources to help them successfully navigate a complex world and its challenges. In this article, we’ll look at ways people with disabilities can prepare for a fulfilling life as an adult.

Making the transition from youth to adult

To make the successful move into adulthood, it helps to know what will be expected and how to meet those expectations. By learning some of those skills now, your child will be prepared for taking on new tasks, and you will be by their side to provide support. To guide you along this journey, the PACER Center has created a helpful sheet called “Ten Tips That May Help Your Child’s Transition to Adulthood.” A few of its recommendations that caught our eye include:

  • Build a work resume. Summer jobs and volunteering can help build the necessary business and social skills your child needs to compete in the job market.
  • Practice money management skills. By learning how to use an ATM card and make budgeting decisions, your child will get an invaluable financial education that empowers them to lead a life of self-determination.
  • Visit postsecondary training and education programs. Show your child what is possible by visiting schools and exploring their programs. You may also meet with the school’s Disability Services office and ask for clear information about the accommodations that may or may not be provided.

The Social Security Administration has a page of resources to help young people transition to adulthood. It includes many resources for those with disabilities. You’ll find links to information on:

  • Tax benefits for people with disabilities.
  • Free resources for finding a job
  • How to plan for adulthood. Before Age 18 includes action steps that teens and families can take, and those steps are conveniently organized by age group.

Living as an adult with disabilities.

Adults with disabilities may need assistance with finding a place to live, getting a job, and learning how to live independently. The sources below address each of these issues:

  • Renting with disabilities. You cannot be denied an application to rent an apartment because you have a disability. If you have disability that requires what the Americans With Disabilities Act calls a “reasonable accommodation,” the landlord must comply. Learn more about renting with disabilities.   
  • Independent Living Centers. Also known as ILC’s, these are nonresidential communities that help people with disabilities achieve and maintain fulfilling, self-sufficient lives.
  • The Vocational Rehabilitation Agency. VRs typically help people with disabilities find employment and gain their independence. Their services include:
    • Vocational guidance and counseling
    • Job development, placement, and follow-up services.

Find Florida’s Vocational Rehabilitation services at They will help you learn about your employment options and find a better job than you currently have.

Learn more about these and related programs at FND’s information hub for adult services.

26750 U.S. Highway 19 North
Suite 410
Clearwater, FL 33761

(727) 523-1130
(800) 825-5736
Blog Post English

Disability Resources


Disability Resources

Disability Resources

People with disabilities need help with their healthcare, education, finances, and moving into adulthood. Bookmark this resource page, as this is where you’ll find links to the programs, services, and information that will help people with disabilities – and the families that care for them — get the help they need to live fulfilling lives.

Resources for Adults With Disabilities

When you’re looking for information about adults with disabilities, FND has created or linked to a number of resource pages.  For this section, we’ve highlighted those we think will have the widest appeal.

Making the transition from youth to adulthood. This Social Security Administration page is part of its Red Book resources, and offers direction on:

  • Job openings
  • Career assistance
  • How to manage and save your money
  • Social services like childcare, housing, legal services, and transportation

The FDIC has a Youth Employment Resource Center, where you can help your child can learn skills that will serve them well into adulthood, including:

  • How to open a bank account
  • Creating a budget
  • Saving for college

As you shop for a bank, use this FDIC banking checklist.

We’ve also gathered many education resources for those moving into adulthood. Some of these are for employers and how they can support employees with disabilities, but there are others helpful to those with disabilities and their families.

Find out what you need to know about your Supplemental Security Income (SSI) when you turn 18

If you’re new to the world of adult services for people with disabilities, we’ve created this explainer page, where we link to pages that explain: 

  • Vocational Rehabilitation Agency.
  • Service agencies that help people with intellectual disabilities or mental health concerns
  • Independent living centers. 
  • Other people to consider involving in transition planning.

Looking for a job? Learn how to find a federal job as someone with a disability.

Healthcare Resources

Having access to quality care is essential for most anyone with a disability. Fortunately, there are resources available to provide this care and essential information.

Family Support, Training, Assistance, and Resources (Family STAR) is the Family-to-Family Health Information Center (F2F HRC) of Florida. Learn about its purpose.

Florida’s Children’s Medical Services Managed Care Plan (CMS Plan) provides children with special healthcare needs a family-centered, comprehensive, and coordinated system of care.

This program serves children under age 21 whose chronic physical or developmental disabilities require preventive and ongoing care.

  • Eligibility Requirements 
    • Must meet medical financial requirements
    • Under the age of 21
    • Must meet CMS physical screening requirements or have a physician attest to the child’s qualifying condition. To request a physical screening, please contact your local CMS office. You may ask for one at any time.

How to create a personal healthcare plan

There are seven steps to creating a personal healthcare plan for a child with special needs:

  1. Contact past doctors and ask what health information you need for your personal health plan.


  2. Ask for an authorization form for release of medical records.


  3. Organize the papers chronologically


  4. Transfer electronic information to a stored device


  5. Bring the PHR to all health care visits


  6. Create and carry a card or medical alert bracelet or necklace


  7. The PHR is private information so remember to keep it confidential

Our goal in sharing these resources is for families to be effective partners in healthcare decision-making at all levels and report satisfaction with the services they receive.

Learning Resources

Students with disabilities often need personalized education, the kind that allows them to receive a customized learning experience so they can reach their full potential.

Find out what the top education experts say about personalized learning so that you can take an active role in your child’s education. Valuable information includes:

Never heard of an IEP or a 504 plan? Get a quick primer at our recent overview of Special Education Services. 

Here is a convenient side-by-side comparison of the purposes and benefits of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Both are designed to help the education experience for people with disabilities.

Learn how you can support and educate a child with autism spectrum disorder. If you have the time and interest, take a deeper dive into how educators approach teaching children with autism and discover evidence-based practices for successful instruction.

Keep in mind that there are dedicated groups throughout Florida that are devoted to advocating for your child’s education, healthcare, and financial security.

Special Needs Trusts

People with disabilities need financial guidance that is caring, competent, and transparent. That’s why we offer our FND Trust Services. Our services include four types of trusts including:

  • National Pooled Trust
  • Individual Special Needs Trust
  • Family Pooled Trust
  • Settlement Protection Trust

With each of these services, our goal is to make sure you have access to the funds you need, when you need them. Learn more about special needs planning and how each of the four trusts work.

26750 U.S. Highway 19 North
Suite 410
Clearwater, FL 33761

(727) 523-1130
(800) 825-5736