If Your Child Has a Disability or Special Need

We all want our children to grow up healthy and happy. We are proud of their accomplish-ments and delight in watching them grow.
Getting help early—even starting at birth— can make a big difference in how children develop. If you have any concerns about your child, talk to your doctor.
If your child does have a disability or chronic illness, your best support may be other parents who have children with disabilities. You may feel alone and anxious. Other parents can give you emotional support and help you find information and resources.

Regional Centers

Regional Centers help children and adults with developmental disabilities, such as mental retardation, cerebral palsy and autism. They can provide treatment, equipment, family support and other services.
Most services are free. Call your Regional Center. Call California Early Start or visit

If Your Child Has a Disability or Special Need
Alexis pulls her friends across the street in
her electric wheelchair.

Support for Families

To find a parent group, call your local hospital or Family Resource Center. Call California Early Start.
• Need a break or help with housework or child care? Your family may qualify for In Home Support Services through your county Social Services Department. Call Disability Services.

Support for Your Growing Child

Your baby needs love and nurturing and opportunities to learn through play. As she grows:

  • Help her find ways to do things on her own or with as little help as possible. Let her be creative and make mistakes.
  • Have your child practice making choices and decisions. She will need these skills as she grows.
  • Look for older children or adults with your child’s disability. They can be role models and give support and information. Call Disability Services.

Things You Can Do

Where to Find Help

Learn More

Mariah and Deon using sign language...
Mariah and Deon are using sign language to read. Because they got help early, they will be ready to start school with their peers.

Get Help Early

  • If you think your child might have a problem, talk to your doctor. Early services can make a big difference in your child’s development. By law, there are free services for children from birth to age 3 if they are at risk of developing slowly. Call California Early Start. Visit

Joseph’s mother says, “We looked until we found the right medical team. They see that our son is a wonderful boy with a full future.”