Summer is a great opportunity for special needs parents to learn more about their children’s challenges. This knowledge is essential for several reasons. Knowledge of your children’s conditions is key to advocating successfully for your children’s needs. Learning more about your children’s diagnoses gives you insight into their lives and lets you communicate more effectively with their medical providers and teachers.
Here are three ways parents can learn more about their children’s needs.
1. Books
There are tonnes of books on special needs topics, and it’s hard to figure out what book to choose. Here are my top tips for selecting the right book for your family:
  • Get recommendations from other special needs parents.
  • Before choosing a book, read reviews on Amazon or other booksellers’ websites.
  • Consult the website Special Needs Book Reviews for recommendations.
2. Websites
There are great websites in Ireland and internationally that include lots of information on special needs. Make sure you get your information from a reputable website by choosing ones affiliated with governments or reputable organisations. Here are sites from Irish groups that I recommend:
These international sites have practical information to help parents and their children with special needs:
National Autistic Society is a UK-based charity with a great website on autism. There is information on diagnosing autism, therapies, interventions and practical strategies for handling different issues. My favourite aspect of this site is the range of videos on its YouTube channel about autism and Asperger’s syndrome, including those which demonstrate what life is like to a person on the spectrum. is a US-based site that contains a wealth of resources for parents of children with special needs. It includes information on most special needs. There are lots of practical tips on dealing with schools, organising paperwork and understanding your children’s symptoms.
Friendship Circle is also US-based and has lots of helpful articles on a range of topics including picky eaters, therapy tips and useful products for children with special needs.
The focus of Reading Rockets (USA) is to help struggling readers including children with dyslexia. There are articles on the obstacles faced by children who struggle to read which include helpful tips. The site also contains information on how to find help for your children, and it offers book recommendations for children of all ages.
3. Webinars
Several websites offer free webinars on a variety issues affecting children with special needs and their families. Although they are based in the US, the information shared in most of the webinars is relevant to children in Ireland. Here are my recommendations:
I highly recommend this site that offers great webinars on assistive technology presented by experts. Parents can watch webinars live, or view recorded webinars. Past webinars dealt with issues including technologies for note-taking in secondary school, apps, and assistive technology to help with executive function issues, communication strategies for adolescents and apps for struggling readers and writers.
Understood offers webinars and social media chats on learning and attention issues. Past events addressed topics such as organisation, time management, working memory and behaviour. There is no charge for these events.
I hope you find these resources helpful. Remember, knowledge is power!
Special Education Advocate



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