Perhaps one of the most powerful roles that a parent can play for a child with special needs is that of an advocate, or, a person who publicly (and in the case of parents, tirelessly) fights for a cause or an individual.

Advocacy for children and individuals with special needs can be vitally important for a number of reasons; it can draw attention to an injustice or unfairness of a government/health policy, it can help those who are slipping through the system to be recognized, and receive access to special needs resources, and it can even unite people to fight for a common cause.  Most importantly – it can help your child receive the services, care, and/or benefits that he or she needs to realize his or her full potential.

The staff of M&L Special Needs Planning, LLC, has assembled a list of resources that we find particularly useful to advocates. Please take a moment to browse through these special needs advocacy resources, as they are an incredible source of useful information and tips. If you have any questions on how you can become an advocate for your child or family member with special needs, please contact us. We are always willing to help.


Advocating For Your Child – Getting Started: This article, written by Pamela Wright, MA, MSW, provides some excellent tips as to how to begin advocating for your child.

Special Education and Advocacy: Autism Speaks has compiled a great list of resources for advocating for special education services for your children with special needs.

Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered: “Self Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE) is the self-advocacy organization of the United States.  Founded in 1990, the organization has been working hard for the full inclusion of people with developmental disabilities in the community throughout the 50 states and the world for 21 years. Their non-profit advocacy organization is run by a board of self-advocates representing 9 regions of the country.”

American Association of People with Disabilities: This is the largest national cross-disability member organization in the United States. “It promotes equal opportunity, economic power, independent living, and political participation for people with disabilities. Members, including people with disabilities and family, friends, and supporters, represent a powerful force for change.”

Parents Helping Parents: PHP’s mission is to help children and adults with special needs receive the support and services they need to reach their full potential by providing information, training, and resources to build strong families and improve systems of care.

Pacer Center: PACER Center is a parent training and information center for families of children and youth with all disabilities from birth to 21 years old. Located in Minneapolis, it services families across the nation, as well as those in Minnesota. Parents can find publications, workshops, and other resources to help make decisions about education, vocational training, employment, and other services for their children with disabilities. This is an excellent special needs resource.

Quality Trust
Quality Trust is an independent, non-profit advocacy organization focused on improving the lives of children and adults with disabilities and their families.  We work with individuals and family members to solve problems, identify opportunities for learning and contribution and find creative ways to minimize “differences” and make the most of each person’s abilities.

The Arc of the District of Columbia

The Arc of DC advocates for the rights and full community participation of all people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Together with our network of members, we improve systems of supports and services, connect families, inspire communication and influence public policy.

Disability Scoop
Developmental Disability News