Boy with Down Syndrome and dad


If Your Child Has a Disability

Your child needs love and care just like any other child. She needs the chance to play and learn. And she needs your support to develop self‑esteem and take part in school and social activities. You may need to search around and ask questions to find the services your child needs. Parents of other children with disabilities can often give you information and support. There are also agencies that can help you.

Where to Find Help

California Department of Developmental Services Regional Center
Help finding services for children with developmental disabilities.

Disability Rights California
Help with legal issues and getting services for people with disabilities.
Voice: 1-800-776-5746TTY: 1-800-719-5798

California Early Start
Services for babies and toddlers at risk of disability or who have a disability.

Early Start Family Resource Centers
Support for families of children with disabilities.

Organizations for parents
List of California agencies providing resources for families of children with disabilities.

More Resources

Things You Can Do

Find Tools to Help Your Child

There are special tools to help children talk, write, learn, and play. For example, a special grip on a pencil can help a child write. Ask about adaptive tools when you are meeting with your child’s IEP team.

Find Healthcare and Financial Help

Your child may qualify for Social Security or Medi-Cal even if your family does not. A child cannot be turned down for health insurance just because she has a disability. Contact your county social services office. See the Department of Social Services listings for your county for contact information.

Learn More About Your Child’s Disability

Go to your local library and find out all you can. Or search for the condition at KidsHealth.

Support for Families

Family Resource Centers offer parent-to-parent support. They also help families find and use services. They help families of children with any type of disability.

Regional Centers help children with developmental disabilities get the services they need.

Support Your Growing Child

  • As your child grows, help her find ways to do things on her own or with less help.

  • Allow her to make mistakes and be creative.

  • Help her practice making choices. She will need this skill as she grows up.

  • Look for older children or adults who have your child’s disability. They can be role models and mentors.

  • Ask your school district about services for preschoolers with disabilities, such as Early Start.

Help Your Child Do Well in School

The school district must evaluate your child if you think she may have a disability. This service is free. If she needs help to take part in school, the school must work with you to develop an individualized education program (IEP).

Children with disabilities should be included in all school activities and sports. Public schools must provide services and adaptive equipment if your child needs them.


Ask your school district about services for preschoolers with disabilities.

About Education Plans

An individualized education program (or IEP) is a written agreement about special education services for your child. You will work with your child’s teachers and other experts to make an IEP for your child. You are an important part of the IEP team. Ask your child’s teacher or doctor how to request an IEP.

A 504 plan is a written agreement about services or adjustments your child needs to succeed in child care, a classroom, or other activities. For example, she might need more time to complete work. Or she might need a seat close to the teacher so she can hear more easily.