Resources for Children with Disabilities

The Collaboration for Early Childhood is here to support families of children with disabilities and parents who have concerns about their young child’s development. We can help answer questions you may have about early intervention and early childhood special education and we can help guide you through the referral process. Contact us by emailing health@collab4kids.org or by calling 708-613-6122 ext. 8.

Below, find some resources that families with children with disabilities or developmental delays may find useful. If you know of a resource that you think should be added to this resource page, don’t hesitate to let us know.

Early Intervention

Early intervention is a term used to describe the services and supports that are available to babies and young children ages birth to three years old with developmental delays and disabilities and their families. It includes speech therapy, physical therapy and other types of services based on the needs of the child and family. The earlier you, your doctor, and your child care provider can identify the need for early intervention, the sooner your child can begin to address challenges and barriers to learning.

Visit our Early Intervention and Early Childhood Special Education overview page to learn more.

Child Development

Although kids and babies develop skills at different times, there are some expected age ranges for reaching these goals. The Collaboration for Early Childhood’s Watch and Help Me Grow booklet provides a timeline of when children generally learn new skills and you can use that as a resource until your child is five years old.

Other great resources to promote your child’s healthy development:

  • The American Academy of Pediatrics Parent Site, HealthyChildren.org is a great resource for all kinds of health and development information related to your young child.
  • The Child Development Institute‘s mission is to become the “go-to” site for parents on information about child development, psychology, health, parenting, learning, media, entertainment and more.
  • PBS Parents – Help Your Child Learn and Grow is a great website that allows you to search activities and resources by age and topic.
  • Learn the Signs. Act Early. This is the CDC’s Developmental Milestone website and it includes a downloadable app to help you support your child’s development right from your phone.

Is My Child’s Development on Track? 
You know your child best. Don’t wait. If you have questions or concerns about your child’s development, talk with your child’s doctor and ask about developmental screening. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children be screening routinely by pediatricians for general development using standardized, validated tools at 9, 18, and 30 months and for autism at 18 and 24 months or whenever a parent or provider has a concern. Here are ways that you can schedule a developmental screening for your child.

You may continue to have concerns about your child’s development after talking with your child’s doctor. Before taking additional steps, please make sure you ask your child’s doctor to administer a formal developmental screening. Even if your child’s doctor recommends completing a screening or evaluation in several months, you always have the right to directly contact Early Intervention (EI) through your local Child and Family Connections Office if your child is three or younger, your local school district if your child is between three and five, or a private therapist for an evaluation at any age. Learn more about Early Intervention and Early Childhood Special Education.

Early Childhood Special Education

Early childhood special education refers to services for children, three through five years of age with developmental delays or disabilities and their families. Services are provided through local school districts and special education cooperatives. If your child is three years or older, contact your local school district’s department of special education or student services. School districts in Forest Park, Oak Park, and River Forest provide screening to children over three in the areas of communication, social/emotional development, cognition, motor skills, hearing, and vision a regular basis, in compliance with federal law. Further evaluations are completed for children as determined by screening results.

Visit our Early Intervention and Early Childhood Special Education overview page to learn more.

Learning from Disabled Adults/Adults with Disabilities

According to Oak Park Public Library Children’s Librarian Shelley Harris, the absolute most important thing to offer caregivers who are learning about their child’s disability is to introduce them to disabled adults so they can see and understand how happy and successful lives can look in different ways.

Shelley is a neurodivergent children’s librarian with a passion for early literacy, serving and celebrating the disability community, and exploring technology. The presentations she created below are loaded with links and recommendations of awesome disabled people self-advocating. She oversees the library’s Supported Services. Take your time exploring the resources below. Each link opens up a new door to learning about the disability community.

 

Local School District Student Services and Special Education Offices

Forest Park (District 91) Student Services Department
925 Beloit Avenue, Forest Park 60130 Phone: 708-366-5742

Oak Park (District 97) Special Education
260 Madison, Oak Park 60302 Phone: 708-524-3000

River Forest (District 90) Special Education
7776 Lake Street Phone: 708-771-8282

Not a resident of the above districts? See a full list of Western Cook County School Districts.

A Note About Language

The Collaboration generally uses person first language, which means when we are talking about people and their identities, we talk about the person before the identity (example: people with disabilities) unless we are writing about a person who has expressed a different preference. If you ever are unsure about how to refer to someone, be curious! Learn about the community that they are a part of and learn what their preferences are. To learn more about the history of person first and identity first language, and some wonderful tips about how to talk about different audiences in the disability community, read this short article by the National Institutes of Health.  

For some current thinking around our use of language to describe services for children with disabilities, please navigate to the Illinois Early Learning Project’s statement on updating their languageWe at the Collaboration are committed to a process of self-examination and reflection and welcome feedback from you around the language we use to talk about children with disabilities. 

Whether it is identity first or person first, we will follow your preference on what language is right for you.  

Sensory Processing

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), or the former but still acceptable term “Sensory Integration” (SI), is a term referring to the way the nervous system receives messages from the senses and turns them into appropriate motor and behavioral responses. Whether you are eating pancakes, riding a skateboard, or reading a book, your successful completion of any activity requires processing many different sensations. Learn more about Sensory Processing Disorder here.

Sensory defensiveness is a negative reaction to one or more types of sensations (such as touch, movement, sound, taste/texture, or smell), often requiring caregiver to control a child’s daily routine to avoid such things. Learn more about Sensory Defensiveness here.

Additional Resources

Local Resources

Oak Park Public Library Supported Services – Find resources, services, and programs designed specifically to support people with disabilities and available to all.

Community Support Services (CSS) 9021 W. Ogden, Brookfield 60513 Phone: 708-354-4547. Based in Brookfield Illinois, CSS has a fantastic list of resources and links to parent support groups for families of children with disabilities. They also provide Case management/ social work; developmental disabilities services; parent/support/training; respite care.

Parents of Extra Special Kids Facebook Group – Parents of Extra Special Kids is a supportive and inclusive group of parents of kids with special needs or other challenges.  Parents share experiences and resources, as well as have regular parent/caregiver meet ups, learning opportunities, as well as social events for kids and families. Parents are from Oak Park area and the surrounding suburbs.

Division of Specialized Care for Children (DSCC) – at University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) Phone: 800-322-3722. Care coordination for children from birth to age 21 with physical disabilities. Financial assistance with medical costs for qualifying income-eligible families. Information available in English and Spanish. Browse their Resource Directory here.

Dynamic Lynks
1100 Lake St., Suite 100C, Oak Park, IL 60301
Phone: 708-620-2373
Email: info@dynamiclynks.com
Holistic therapeutic center, music and movement for children with Autism. Individual and group music therapy sessions, adaptive yoga, voice, piano, guitar and ukulele lessons. All ages.

Family Resource Center on Disabilities
20 E. Jackson Blvd, Room 300, Chicago 60604 Phone: 312-939-3513
Provides information, training, and support for families who have children with disabilities.

Fussy Baby Network at Erikson Institute
Phone: 888-431-BABY (2229)
Variety of services including free parent support phone line, home visit program, English and Spanish support groups, and fussy baby clinic.

Helping Hand Center
9649 W. 55th St., Countryside 60525 Phone: 708-352-3580, ext. 383 Fax: 708-352-9728
Developmental therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech therapy.

Imagine Pediatric Therapy
606 W. Roosevelt Rd., Chicago 60607 Phone: 312-588-5050 Fax: 312-588-5040
Occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech therapy.

Kids Unlimited Therapeutic Services LLC
820 North Blvd. (side entrance) Oak Park 60302 Phone: 708-524-2445 Fax: 708-524-2443
Occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech therapy.

Lakeview Speech and Language Clinic, LLC
Phone: 773-573-7709
Email: info@lakeviewspeech.com
Lakeview Speech and Language Clinic provides in-home speech and occupational therapies to children and their families in Oak Park – River Forest, and Chicago, IL. Their mission is to connect with your child and family to promote and teach skills in order to enrich your lives in all environments. Therapy sessions are energized and motivational, and use naturalistic materials and activities.

Lurie Children’s Hospital Lekotek Center (also Known as Jackie’s Toy Chest)
225 E. Chicago Ave. Chicago, IL 60611 Phone: 312-227-6398
Lekotek uses the developmentally beneficial aspects of play to help support families of children with disabilities. Playtime can relieve families’ stress, solidify important emotional bonds and normalize routines.

Oak-Leyden Developmental Services
411 Chicago Avenue, Oak Park 60302 Phone: 708-524-1050 ext. 107
Individualized, family centered services for young children from birth to age 5 with developmental delays or disabilities. Program services include: physical, occupational, speech, and developmental therapies, play groups, family training and support, and family events. Developmental screenings available upon request.

Pillars
6918 Windsor Ave., Berwyn, IL 60402
708-745-5277 (phone); 708-795-4834 (fax)
Social-emotional/mental health therapy.

Smart Love Family Services
610 S. Maple Avenue, 2nd Floor, Oak Park, IL 60403
773-665-8052, ext. 4 (phone); 708-660-4301 (fax)
contact@smartlovefamily.org
Mental health services for children and adults; diagnostic evaluations; individual and group counseling; play therapy; psychological and neuropsychological testing; autism treatment program.

STAR Net Region II
2626 S. Clearbrook Drive, Arlington Heights, IL 60005
224-366-8579 (phone)
Support and Technical Assistance Regional Network provides training and technical assistance to parents of children with special needs (birth – age 8) in western Cook County.

Thrive Counseling Center
120 S. Marion St., Oak Park, IL 60302
708-383-7500 (phone); 708-383-7880 (fax)
Social-emotional/mental health therapy.

Vital Rehabilitation
5820 W. Irving Park Road, Chicago, IL 60634
773-685-8482 (phone); 773-685-8479 (fax)
Developmental therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, social-emotional/mental health therapy and speech therapy.

West Suburban Special Recreation Association (WSSRA) & Lekotek
2915 Maple Street, Franklin Park, IL 60131
847-455-2100 (phone)
Cooperative extension that provides recreational opportunities for children and adults with special needs, disabilities, or handicapping conditions. WSSRA also offers Lekotek, a lending library of toys for children with disabilities.

Parents/Caregivers are their child's first and most important teacher! Reach out to us to get connected to resources and supports by completing the form below.