SPEC (Support for Parents of Exceptional Children): SPEC is a support group for families of children on the autism spectrum.  The format is simple:  we get together to talk about our kids, share information and ask questions of more experienced parents.  On a typical night we might talk about schools, issues with extended family, recent accomplishments, difficult behaviors, effective interventions, and upcoming events in the community.  We also have an info sheet with a glossary of terms and resources for families of newly diagnosed kids.  Everyone is welcome!  Visit our Facebook Group or  Call 954-577-4141 for additional information.

Local Support Groups and General Information

2-1-1 Broward Special Needs Connections Helpline: Special Needs Connections offers telephone support, counseling, information and referrals and assistance for parents, caregivers, educators, coaches, medical experts and all other providers of children and young adults with developmental and physical disabilities.dial 2-1-1 in Broward County or 

CARD (Center for Autism and Related Disabilities): Please contact the CARD Center directly at 1-800-9-AUTISM and register to be added to their mailing list.  CARD hosts many informative workshops and conferences, addressing a variety of issues and needs.  Click here for more information…

The Advocacy Center for Persons with Disabilities, Inc
The Advocacy Center for Persons with Disabilities, Inc., is a non-profit organization providing protection and advocacy services in the State of Florida. Their mission is to advance the dignity, equality, self-determination and expressed choices of individuals with disabilities. Click here for more info…

ARC of Broward
ARC Broward is a private, not-for-profit organization providing supports and assistance primarily to children and adults with mental retardation, autism, Down’s syndrome, cerebral palsy, and other developmental disabilities. Incorporated in 1956, ARC Broward provides a continuum of supports to over 650 children and adults with disabilities and employs over 400 health-care, educational, and other professionals. For more information, please visit their website at

Autism Society of Florida
For more information, please visit their website at

The Dan Marino Foundation 
The mission of The Dan Marino Foundation is to support integrated treatment programs for children with chronic illnesses and developmental disabilities, so they can lead healthier and happier lives.  Click here for more information.

Denise’s List:  Your #1 source for Autism related information in South Florida! E-mail Denise at to subscribe. This Listserv contains autism information of particular interest to the South Florida area and is distributed daily. This is a very active list generating 10-20 postings per day. Members exchange information on news, therapies, resources, advocacy, on just about anything concerning autism.

The Transition and Adult Support Group
For additional information, call  Eileen Roth at 954-474-5333.

Broward County Schools Exceptional Student Education Website
In the state of Florida, Exceptional Student Education, or ESE, is the designation for special education.  At this site, you will find out about the services provided to the over 28,000 students with disabilities in the Broward County school system.

Coalition For Independent Living Options, Inc. (CILO): Their mission is to increase advocacy efforts with public & private entities to promote independence for people with disabilities. Click here for more information…

Family Care Council (FCC)
This web site is for people in the developmental disabilities community.  It provides information for individuals and their families about requirements, procedures, and services affecting their lives.  Their goal is to inform and educate; helping families and consumers to be better self advocates.
With information accessible on this web site, the Family Care Council (FCC) enhances the partnership between the state, region and district with the Department of Children and Families (DCF) Developmental Disabilities Program (DDP) and the people they serve. Click here for more information…

Unlocking Children’s Potential- UCP of Broward County (UCP)

Offers programs and services for children with all disabilities. Pre-school, After School, Day Program, Summer Camp, Advocacy and Respite Care. Please if you require more information go to

Family Network on Disabilities of Florida (FND)
Family Network on Disabilities of Florida, Inc. is a statewide network of families and individuals who may be at-risk, have disabilities, or have special needs. Their mission is to ensure through collaboration that Floridians have full access to family-driven support, education, information, resources and advocacy. To visit their website, please go to

Florida Alliance for Assistive Services & Technology, Inc. (FAAST)
FAAST envisions a seamless supportive partnership between Florida business and government to provide assistive technology products and services which will enable persons with disabilities to participate in independent living, education, work and recreation from birth to death. To visit their website, please go to

The Florida Developmental Disabilities Council
The Florida Developmental Disabilities Council encourages and advocates opportunities for persons with developmental disabilities and their families, to enhance their quality of life within their communities. To visit their website, please go to

Florida Diagnostic and Learning Resources System (FDLRS)
FDLRS is a statewide program that provides services to special education students, their teachers and parents, and the community agencies serving them. Click here for more information…

Florida Independent Living Council, Inc. (FILC)
FILC’s purpose is to promote independent living opportunities for persons with disabilities throughout the state of Florida. This includes the promotion of a direct service philosophy that is consumer controlled and directed.  Click here for more information…

Florida’s Voice on Developmental Disabilities, Inc. (FVDD)
Florida’s Voice on Developmental Disabilities, Inc. (FVDD), incorporated in Florida in March 1995, is a statewide all volunteer, non-profit organization comprised of family and friends of persons with mental retardation and related developmental disabilities. FVDD advocates for a full continuum of educational, medical, programmatic, recreational, residential, therapeutic, and vocational options based upon individual needs and choices.
Click here for more information…

Florida Yellow Pages For Kids With Disabilities
A wealth of information designed in an intuitive way that helps individuals quickly find resources related to their specific interests.  Click here to visit this informative site.

Future Planning Information For Individuals With Developmental Disabilities
This Web site was created to give information and guidance to individuals and to families of people who have lifelong or developmental disabilities.  The information on this site is divided into seven areas: five life topic areas and two information and resource areas.  To visit their website, go to

GRACA (Grandparents and Relatives of Autistic Children and Adults) Grandparents and other relatives and friends of individuals with autism who wish to participate in this group can contact Roz Bellman ( or Sylvia Cohen ( at (954) 577-4141.

Gluten Free / Casein Free (GF/CF) Specific Carbohydrate Support Group Contact Susan Wallitch at 954-349-0609

JAFCO (Jewish Adoption and Foster Care Options) Jewish Adoption and Foster Care Options, Inc. (JAFCO) is a nonprofit agency established in April 1992. Nothing is more tragic than a family torn apart. When a child is removed from his family, he leaves behind what he has known and takes with him his fears, anger, hurt and insecurities. We believe that we can provide one less obstacle in the healing process by providing a child with a familiar cultural and religious environment. We believe every child deserves a safe and loving home.  To visit their website, go to

Living Inclusively For Everyone, Inc. (LIFE)
Living Inclusively for Everyone, Inc. (LIFE) is a non-profit organization started by a group of parents with more than 30 years of experience advocating for children with developmental disabilities.
LIFE was originated in 2003 with the vision of full community participation and integration for individuals with disabilities. Our MISSION is Inclusion, Employment, Education and Enjoyment.  Click here for more information…

Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP)
ODEP is an agency within the U. S. Department of Labor. ODEP provides national leadership to increase employment opportunities for adults and youth with disabilities while striving to eliminate barriers to employment.  Click here for more information…

South Florida Fragile X Resource Group
Fragile X Syndrome is the #1 inherited cause of mental retardation. For between 2% and 6% of all children diagnosed with autism, the cause is the Fragile X gene mutation. Approximately one-third of all children diagnosed with Fragile X syndrome also have some degree of autism. Symptoms of Fragile X include mental impairment, attention deficit disorder and hyperactivity, anxiety and unstable mood, autistic-like behaviors, and long face, large ears and flat feet. If your child exhibits some of these characteristics, you may want to have your child checked for Fragile X Syndrome. There is a new South Florida Fragile X Clinic. Call (305) 243-6383 for more information. Check out the Florida Families Fragile X Foundation website: or contact Randy Green at (954) 433-5413 or email her at

Spanish Speaking Support Group
GRUPO DE APOYO para padres y familiares de niños con Autismo e incapacidades relacionadas con el autismo. El grupo se reunirá el primer Mártes de cada mes, empezando el Mártes 1 de Septiembre a las 7pm en el centro Dan Marino, en Weston. Para información visite nuestra pagina web,

Special Olympics Florida
Special Olympics is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing year-round sports training and competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for people eight years of age and older with developmental disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendships with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.  Click here for more information…

The Autism Autoimmunity Project  (TAAP)
TAAP is a non-profit charity dedicated to obtaining funding for independent research into the cause, treatment and prevention of autism and other autoimmune disorders. TAAP supports prominent medical and natural practitioners, who are working diligently to understand the biomedical and immunological causes. They work to provide information on the latest and most successful treatments. TAAP’s vision is to financially support independent doctors and researchers, who will not only re-define autism, but will lead to new treatments for our children, with the focus on prevention.  Click here for more information…


Knowing Your Rights


Important Legal Information…
Did you know that if your child receives therapy from medical assistance that you need to carefully plan your estate? In fact, in the event of the death of a parent or parents, if the child does NOT have a special needs trust in place, then the Department of Public Welfare will consider the inheritance that you leave your child as “income,” rendering him or her ineligible for wraparound services? ASK YOUR ATTORNEY OR ESTATE PLANNING PROFESSIONAL ABOUT A SPECIAL NEEDS TRUST!

Working With Your Child’s IEP
Once you’re in a school system, whether it is kindergarten, 1st grade or 5th grade, with a special needs child, you’ll have to go through an Individualized Education Plan, or IEP. You’ll hear that over and over again!! IEP’s are EXTREMELY IMPORTANT because the school MUST adhere to everything agreed upon in IEP. They are legally bound by that document. If you want something for your child, make sure it is spelled out explicitly in the IEP. Here are some helpful links:

Need sample IEP’s??

Hurricane Preparedness:
Focus on Autism

By Denise Crosnick, President, ASA Broward Chapter

General information on hurricane preparation is readily available through the media. However, specific information regarding the Autistic population is lacking. This article contains valuable information that can be used in private homes from local professionals who are responsible for Autistic clients in group homes. The clients’ ages range from nine years and up.

Emotional support ideas: Have a “hurricane drill”, according to Karen Linford, Coordinator of Community Living. Her clients go to the building they will be staying in during the storm. They spend several hours there and eat “hurricane food”. This also gives the staff a chance to make sure everything is in place.

At home you could try going to your “safe room”, use flashlights, have a snack and perhaps read a social story, watch a battery-powered television, or play a game.

Eileen Roth, of Transition-Adult Support and Community Outreach, suggests having lots of preferred activities (i.e. games, books) and preferred, non-perishable snacks on hand to keep them occupied.

Alex Dominguez, BCBA, makes certain hurricane preparations on the building (i.e. shutters, plywood) are gradual and early as possible so the clients have a chance to get used to the change. Maintaining routine as much as possible is crucial. Mr. Dominguez also notes that funding for hurricane preparations for group homes are insufficient. He also suggests that groups such as ASA and other advocacy groups should advocate for a specialized shelter. “Spacing and having the opportunity to do gross motor type activities is of crucial importance. Providers and the local district cannot really do too much, you need to go to your politicians to make this happen.”

Elaine Terner, President of Hatikvah Group Home, creates a “slumber party” atmosphere. Everyone sleeps in the same room. This provides a calm, comforting environment.

Another good idea is to scan internet book retailers for social stories on hurricanes. They begin at pre-school age with books that promote a safe, secure feeling. Some are taken from favorite cartoons such as Clifford and The Magic School Bus. There is also a book that has an audio-cassette to accompany it. Other books for older children explain the science and history of hurricanes.

All of the above professionals stress the importance of staying inside during the storm to their clients.

Physical Needs Preparation – food and drink suggestions: Dried fruits, canned fruits, granola bars, canned vegetables, canned meats, canned pasta dishes and bottled water are used in the group homes. Cereal with milk homogenized at ultra high temperature (available at supermarkets) is a good choice for breakfast. Parmalat brand comes in half-pint containers that do not have to be refrigerated unless the container has been opened. Regular, 2% reduced fat, lactose free and chocolate are among the varieties available. Nutritional Supplement drinks should also be kept on hand for picky eaters. They come in single serving cans and are available at supermarkets and drug stores. Pudding and gelatin not requiring refrigeration are good snacks.

If you have any additional ideas you would like to share on our website, please e-mail them to

Tri-County Hurricane Information:

NOAA National Hurricane Center
Broward Emergency Management

Broward County Schools (closings)
Broward Schools Safety Department
Broward County Red Cross
Miami-Dade Emergency Management
Palm Beach Emergency Management

Florida Division Emergency Management
FEMA: Tropical Storm Watch
Broward Evacuation Map
Miami-Dade Evacuation Map
Palm Beach Evacuation Map

Disaster Preparedness for People With Disabilities – Red Cross Disaster Services

Funds Available for Home Repairs and Rentals for Displaced Individuals With Disabilities

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