Special Needs Directory: Resources for Autism, Anxiety, ADHD, Epilepsy & More

special needs guide

Where to Find Support For Your Family

We all know that raising kids is a hard gig. Whether it’s potty training, wiping noses, making snacks, or something in between, kids know how to keep their parents busy – and dipping into their chocolate stash daily. (Is that just me?)

In addition to the usual trials of parenting, parents of children with special needs have other unique challenges.

The term “special needs” includes so many diagnoses and each comes with their own difficulties. Parents of children with visual impairments may find themselves learning Braille. Parents of children with autism may need to navigate raising non-verbal children.

Then there’s the world of special education and advocating for your child. It’s overwhelming.

When my son was diagnosed with autism last fall, I didn’t know where to start. When the shock of the diagnosis wore off, the first thing I did was track down local resources and community (and online) support groups for parents of children with special needs.

When it comes to knowing where to go, we’ve done the research for you and put together a list of places where you can find all the support you need and then some.


» Neurological special needs
» Behavioral/Emotional special needs
» Hearing and Visual impairments
» Physical disabilities
» Parent Resources

Karin’s Horse Connection at Legacy Stables

Featured Partner
8001 Patterson Ave SE., Caledonia, MI 49316

Everyone – all ages, physical, mental, and social abilities – is welcome at Karin’s Horse Connection at Legacy Stables! Our experienced and certified staff works with 25 well trained and happy horses and ponies of a variety of sizes to meet a variety of needs. No matter if you want to build muscle and balance, healthy confidence, gain riding skills, or just sit and brush a horse while they graze, we can pick YOU up where YOU are individually.

In addition to traditional riding, we offer the use of unique equipment: a non-slip pad and large saddle with handles. It provides the rider security while being able to move into different positions on top of the horse and even experience the different movements of the horse (slower/faster). Through a variety of exercises, students relax and build confidence; gain strength, balance and coordination. And have FUN!

Through being at our stables and working with the horses, you can shed whatever is weighing you down. Our goal is to connect you to the healing power of horses and bring a smile to your face.
“There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of man.” -Winston Churchill

“My special needs nephew has been taking lessons for 12 years. He started at five years old when he could only stand with a walker. Riding helped my nephew learn to walk. Over the years, riding and vaulting strengthened his muscles, raised his self-esteem, helped with rehab after surgeries, and gave him goals and a sense of belonging. I’ve seen Karin positively affect the lives of children and adults affected by (many) difficult challenges. Her program has been a life-enhancing experience for many.” – Pat

Autism Resources & Information

It used to be that kids with neurological disorders were often criticized by society – both at home and at school. Parents would be frustrated with their children and their children had no clue why they were misunderstood.

Nowadays we understand that kids with neurological disorders just navigate the world differently than us. Parents now have resources available to both help them understand their neurologically different kid, and for the child to understand how their brain works.

Autism Services for West Michigan Families

What is Autism? It used to be that kids with neurological disorders were often criticized by society - both at home and at school. Parents would be frustrated with their children and their children had no clue why they were ...
autism services in west mi

5 Things Helpful Things to Know About Parenting a Child on the Autism Spectrum


Children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder Experience a Wide Variety of Symptoms

Sensitivity to sounds, difficulty relating to others, excessive interest in specific topics or subjects, unexpected emotional responses, and picky eating are just a few. Not every person experiences all of the symptoms, and the degree to which they are experienced will vary.


Children on the Spectrum can Make Great Improvements with Early Intervention

Children on the autism spectrum can make significant improvement in their ability to function at home and school and in the community. Research shows that early intervention for children on the autism spectrum is crucial to their success.


Different Methods Work for Different Kids With Autism Spectrum Disorder

I have learned that certain methods (such as the use of visual supports) work for nearly all children with autism. I have also learned that you have to be creative with each kid. You have to incorporate their intense interests into therapy and start where they are.


You are Not Alone In Your Journey to Care for Your Special Needs Child

Accepting that your child is different but still recognizing all of his or her talents is key. Advocating for your child in all settings (school, child care, the community, with your relatives and elsewhere) is also important.


Talk to Your Doctor About Your Child’s Development

If you have concerns about your child’s development, your pediatrician is a good place to start. Your child’s preschool, school, or local ISD are all good resources, too.


» Other Spectrum Disorders
» Dyslexia
» Processing Disorders
» Cerebral Palsy
» Epilepsy
» Down Syndrome

Help for Kids with Dyslexia, Down Syndrome and Other Needs

Neurological Disability Resources

Neurological disabilities include so much more than autism.

Here are some places to consider for help and information on cerebral palsy, epilepsy, Down Syndrome, dyslexia, sensory processing disorder, and other spectrum disorders.

National Resources

Cerebral Palsy Guidance
Cerebral Palsy Guidance provides vital guidance and assistance to parents of a child with cerebral palsy through symptom information, financial assistance and daily living articles.  

Cerebral Palsy Guide
Cerebral Palsy Guide provides free educational materials, financial options and support to help those across the country affected by this disorder.

Local Resources

Conductive Learning Center
The Conductive Learning Center serves children birth to age 26 with motor disorders related to complications of prematurity, Cerebral Palsy, Spina Bifida or brain injury.

Comprehensive Therapy Center

Comprehensive Therapy Center offers the West Michigan community speech-language pathology, occupational therapy, sensory integration and motor therapies.

Down Syndrome Association of West Michigan 
233 Fulton St. E, Ste. #124, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
(located inside the Grand Rapids Masonic Center)

DSAWM programs and services are designed to address barriers and support opportunities for people with Down syndrome and their families. All programs and services for families are free with In-Area Family Membership. Some programs and services are free with Out-of-Area Family Membership. In-Area regions are Allegan, Barry, Ionia, Kalamazoo, Kent, Mecosta, Montcalm, Muskegon, Newaygo, Oceana, Ottawa, or Van Buren Counties.

Horizons Developmental Resource Center
3120 68th Street SE, Caledonia, MI 49316
Horizons works with individuals and families who have a variety of neurological, psychological, physical, and relational symptoms. Includes assistance for children with Bipolar Disorder, Cerebral Palsy, Epilepsy, Traumatic Brain Injury and many more.

Call Child Find Hotline 616-819-3514
Students who reside within Grand Rapids Public Schools are provided services in a continuum of settings including home or school buildings located throughout the district. Programs include: Early Childhood Special Education, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Emotional Impairment, Moderate Cognitive Impairment, and Resource Programs. Ken-O-Sha Early Childhood Center provides services to children birth through age five with developmental delays.

Mary Free Bed Pediatric Rehabilitation and Therapy
An inpatient rehabilitation hospital where pediatric doctors, nurses, and therapists treat young people who have experienced brain injury, brain related illnesses and concussion, cancer, neurological conditions, stroke, spinal cord injury, fractures, chronic pain conditions, surgery, burns and other debilitating illnesses and injuries.

Pine Rest
Psychological Consultation Center: 866-852-4001
Outpatient Clinic Network 866-852-4001

Mental health services; provides testing & assessment for ADHD, autism, learning disabilities and cognitive impairment at the Psychological Consultation Center  and Parent Support and Counseling Services through the Outpatient Clinic Network.

Growing Smiles Pediatric Dentistry

2643 E Beltline Ave NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49525

Our practice specializes in treating children who have special needs. Dr. Meggan is trained in behavioral guidance and has handpicked a team that cares as much as she does about providing the best care possible.

We promise to meet your child where they’re at when they walk through the door and take the time to get to know them.

We know that not every appointment looks the same and it is our promise to you and your child that we will go above and beyond to create a safe, comfortable experience every time.

Arrowsmith Program at St. Stephen School

740 Gladstone Ave SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506

The Arrowsmith Program is based on the application of neuroscience research and the premise that it is possible to address a range of specific learning difficulties by identifying and strengthening cognitive capacities. At Arrowsmith, each child receives an individualized plan to accommodate their specific learning needs.

“My son was diagnosed ADD and dyslexia. In special ed classes, staff talked down to him and he struggled to keep up with his classmates and understand his teachers. It was heartbreaking. When he began the Arrowsmith program a different kid emerged. No more headaches and upset stomachs-he was now keen to go to school. His social skills really changed and he started, on his own, to manage his time. His reading, language, and math scores have greatly increased. He feels safe and encouraged in the Arrowsmith classroom.”


2643 E Beltline Ave NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49525

At BRAINS, we strive to change lives by providing comprehensive testing and individualized treatment plans based on your child’s unique needs.

Speech and language therapy is available to assist with communication needs at all levels including language comprehension and expression, articulation, social communication, and beyond.

Our Occupational Therapist will help your child with sensory regulation, fine motor function, daily living skills, and much more. Our testing team can provide you with valuable diagnostic clarity while behavioral counseling and ABA help navigate emotional and behavioral challenges.

Call today for a free 15-minute phone consultation with our Speech or Occupational Therapist.

Lake Michigan Academy

2428 Burton St. SE Grand Rapids, MI 49546

Lake Michigan Academy is West Michigan’s only private day school for students who possess learning differences such as dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, and ADHD. Both in-person and remote learning options are available during the 2020-2021 school year for students in grades 1-12. Our unique, individualized approach focuses on hands-on content instruction, remediation of academic weaknesses, and social-emotional learning.

Student Ambassadors provide tours of the school and can talk to you about how Lake Michigan Academy has changed their lives. Call for an appointment to visit this unique school that celebrates differences and empowers students to reach their full potential.

Integrity Dance Arts – Joy In Motion

2495 84th Street SW, Byron Center, MI 49315

Joy In Motion provides an opportunity for children with special needs (ages 7-18) to participate in the performing arts through dance. Youth volunteers, or “coaches,” provide JIM dancers one-on-one assistance during once-a-week classes, leaving students feeling confident, encouraged and loved!

There is a one-time $50 fee due upon registering. Dancers are provided shoes, dance class attire, 9 months of classes and a recital costume at no additional cost.

The Tutoring Center

5751 Byron Center Ave SW, Suite S, Wyoming, MI 49519

Our mission at The Tutoring Center is to empower children to reach their potential. We are a nationally recognized franchise offering K-12 math, reading, writing, and enrichment programs in a fun, fast paced environment.
-Rotational Approach specifically designed for students with attention issues

-Proven to rapidly increase academic skills and improve concentration and focus
-1:1 in-person instruction
-Custom learning plan and high-quality materials
-FREE diagnostic assessment and consultation
-Monthly tuition | No long term contracts | Discounts Available
-Following county, state and federal health and social distancing guidelines
Students enjoy attending and families see immediate results!

Wedgwood Christian Services

1260 Ekhart St NE, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49503

Wedgwood Christian Services’ Autism Center for Child Development (ACCD) provides comprehensive early intensive behavioral intervention for young children, 18 months to 6 years old, with autism spectrum disorders. Our therapy is based on the principles of applied behavior analysis and is individualized for each child. 

Wedgwood’s ACCD offers a fun, active environment with large indoor and outdoor play and learning spaces, treatment plans created and reviewed with a doctoral level clinician (BCBA-D®), Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA®) and Licensed Behavior Analysts credentialed clinicians, and credentialed Registered Behavior Technicians (RBT®).

Paper Plane Therapies

710 Kenmoor Ave SE, Suite 110, Grand Rapids, MI 49546

At Paper Plane Therapies, we create an engaging, warm, and creative atmosphere that considers the needs of the entire family. It is our goal to identify barriers and construct a functional plan to help the child and their family reach their fullest potential and lead happy and healthy lives.

Building Blocks Therapy Services, LLC

2922 Fuller Ave NE , Suite 107 , Grand Rapids, MI 49505

Building Blocks Therapy Services mission is to provide professional speech and language services from infancy to adulthood for a variety of disorders.

We are dedicated to offering the highest quality, research based, speech and language treatment plans that are individualized to each client. Every therapist at Building Blocks is passionate about providing knowledge and skills that will enhance the daily lives of the clients and their families.



» Anxiety & Depression
» Bipolar disorder
» Oppositional Defiant Disorder


My oldest had a very hard time in kindergarten. He was one of the oldest kids in his class and had attended Pre-K, so I didn’t understand why he still seemed so much more immature than his classmates. He was constantly pushing the teacher’s boundaries and copying the bad choices of other kids in his class.

Things really came to a head halfway through the year. There were many days at home where he’d scream at me and his siblings, one of them being a six-month old baby. He’d throw things. He’d bang the wall and kick doors.

During one particularly epic tantrum, he banged and kicked on his bedroom door while screaming how much he hated me. If I tried to approach him to calm him, he’d try to hit and kick me. At 6 ½ years old.

After encouragement from his principal, I made the call to have him start talking to a therapist. I couldn’t take the risk of him accidentally hurting one of his siblings, especially his baby brother.

We eventually found a good fit therapist for my son and she easily diagnosed him with anxiety. I was shocked. I felt like I should have been able to recognize this in him, since my own anxiety presents as rage, but I didn’t.

I have since learned that, just like in adults, anxiety and depression can present differently in each child. Be sure to read more about how to recognize the symptoms in children

Behavioral & Emotional Resources

Statewide Resources

Hope Network
Provides services including rehabilitation, behavioral health, developmental and community support.

Michigan Alliance for Families
A statewide resource for families of children with disabilities to help improve educational services and outcomes.

Local Resources

Arbor Circle
Arbor Circle helps clients build coping skills through more than 50 counseling, education and prevention programs and services addressing everything from school readiness and child abuse prevention to substance use and homelessness.

Horizons Developmental Resource Center
3120 68th Street SE, Caledonia, MI 49316
Horizons works with individuals and families who have a variety of neurological, psychological, physical, and relational symptoms. Includes assistance for children with ADHD, Anxiety, Depression, Mood Disorders, OCD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Panic Disorder, and PTSD.

Pine Rest
Psychological Consultation Center: 866-852-4001
Outpatient Clinic Network 866-852-4001

Mental health services; provides testing & assessment for ADHD, autism, learning disabilities and cognitive impairment at the Psychological Consultation Center  and Parent Support and Counseling Services through the Outpatient Clinic Network.

Wedgwood Christian Services

Wedgwood Christian Services provides a wide range of social services to children, youth and families who are struggling with tough problems including: sex trafficking, abuse and neglect, sexual abuse and sexual behavior issues, substance abuse, teen pregnancy, developmental delays, learning difficulties, school expulsions and more.



» Muscular dystrophy
» Multiple sclerosis
» Chronic Asthma

Chronic Asthma

Watching your child struggle to do anything is hard for a parent. But when your child is struggling to breathe, it’s downright terrifying. 

Over six million children in the U.S. have asthma. Poorly controlled or undiagnosed asthma can send many children to the emergency room – and kick up their parents’ anxiety. 

We’ve put together a list of common symptoms in children and some resources for parents of a child with asthma. 

Signs & Symptoms of Chronic Asthma

Most children have symptoms before they’re five.

Common signs parents should be on the lookout for include:

  • Coughing (either constant or intermittently)
  • Wheezing (this is a whistling sound that may be heard while your child is breathing)
  • Trouble breathing or shortness of breath while your child is playing or exercising
  • Chest tightness (your child may say his/her chest hurts or does not feel good)
  • Fatigue
  • Nighttime cough
  • Noisy breathing

The symptoms of asthma may resemble other problems or medical conditions. Always consult your child’s physician for a diagnosis.

Resources for Physical Disabilities

While asthma is the most common physical disability in children, there are many others that families have to manage. These include muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, leukemia, and epilepsy.

Life Therapeutic Solutions Inc. 
[email protected]
Provides children with personalized recreational therapy sessions including in home therapy, aquatic play, or community outings. Our Recreational therapist work on facilitating inclusion into activities your children enjoy, despite their disability. Children benefit from recreational therapy by overcoming specific obstacles to engage with their peers and environment. Email [email protected] to get started.



» Blind or visually impaired
» Deaf or Hearing Impaired

Resources For Kids with Hearing or Visual Impairments

As a pregnant mom, fondly rubbing my belly, I would dream about what my baby would look like and what kind of person he would be. It was just a given in my dreams that my baby would be able to see and hear.

But that’s not the case for everyone.

It can be scary to navigate the world with a sensory impaired child and learn a whole new way of doing things that you’ve taken for granted.

As with everything else in the special needs world, there are a plethora of resources available to help parents and families of a child with a sensory impairment.

Hearing Impairment

Signs Your Child May Have a Hearing Impairment

Most hospitals will check a newborn’s hearing before you leave. Newborns could pass the hearing test in the hospital and suffer hearing loss later.

If you think your baby may have a hearing impairment, here are some things to watch for:

  • Not being startled by loud sounds
  • Not turning toward a sound after he’s 6 months old
  • Not saying single words like “mama” or “dada” by the time he’s 1 year old
  • Turns his head if he sees you, but not if you only call out his name
  • Seems to hear some sounds, but not others

It can be harder to identify hearing loss in older children. Here are a few suggestions from the American Hearing Health Foundation that may help detect a hearing impairment.

  • Your child moves one ear forward when listening, or he complains that he can only hear out of his “good ear”.
  • Your child’s grades fall or their teacher notes that they do not seem to hear or respond as well in the classroom as other children.
  • Your child starts to speak more loudly than previously.
  • If your child looks at you intensely when you speak to them, as if concentrating, they may be depending more on visual cues for interpreting speech.
  • You just have a feeling, but you can’t put your finger on what your concern is. Don’t let that stop you. Ask your doctor for a referral to ease your mind.

Resources for Families of a Child with a Hearing Impairment

National and Statewide Resources

Local Resources

Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services
3680 44th St SE STE 201, Kentwood, MI 49512

Grand Rapids Oral Deaf Program
4300 Costa Ave. NE,  Grand Rapids, MI 49525

Resources for Families of a Child with a Visual Impairment

National and Statewide Resources

Local Resources

Association for the Blind & Visually Impaired
456 Cherry St SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Vision and Sensory Center
4467 Byron Center Ave SW Wyoming, MI 49519


Parent Support and Counseling Services

Children with special needs aren’t the only ones who need support and resources. Parents need them, too. We need to know that there are other parents out there who truly know and understand our lives with our kids.

Here are some places to go to find our Mom (or Dad or Caregive) Tribe. Some of these places offer support services for kids as well.

Early Childhood Development Resources

Bright Beginnings 
Kent ISD’s program empowers parents with the skills and tools they need to be their child’s first and best teacher. They serve children birth to kindergarten with free home visits, playgroups and screenings.

Early On
Kent ISD Early On program assists families with infants and toddlers, from birth until 36 months, who have a delay in their development or a diagnosed disability. They provide evaluations for your child’s development right in your home and if they qualify, they create a plan and provide services and support to help your child reach their full potential.

Family Futures: Connections

Family Futures programs and resources are designed to provide a wide range of support for West Michigan parents, teens and families through education and prevention-based programming, including Connections, a free program which helps families track their child’s growth and identify any developmental delays from birth to age five.

Grand Rapids Public Schools Early Childhood 
Preschool and Kindergarten Registration, including The Great Start Readiness Program, a state funded free preschool program for qualifying four-year-old children.

Great Start to Quality  
Great Start to Quality is Michigan’s tiered quality rating and improvement system that supports early childhood programs and providers in their efforts to improve their programs while helping families find and choose quality programs that meet their children’s needs.

HeadStart for Kent County’s early childhood programs focus on education, nutrition, medical and dental care, parent involvement and social service. Programs include home visits and free preschool for children ages three and four.

MomsBloom’s programs provide hands-on, nonjudgmental practical and emotional support to women and their families while rebuilding a sense of community and connecting people to each other.

Spectrum Health Maternal Infant Health Program 
A team of nurses, community health workers, counselors, and nutritionists who make home visits and telephone calls throughout your pregnancy and your baby’s first year, with the goal to help you to be a healthy mom who has a healthy baby. 

Counseling Services for Families of Children With Special Needs

Network180 connects individuals and their families to services for mental illness, substance use disorders or developmental disabilities.

Pine Rest Christian Counseling Center 
The Christian Counseling Center provides quality behavioral health services, including therapy and psychiatric services for children, adolescents, adults, and families.

Wellspring Counseling 
A non-profit organization dedicated to assisting churches and community organizations in providing superior counseling care.

Healthcare Resources for Children With Special Needs

Children’s Special Health Care Services 
A program within the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services that provides certain approved medical service coverage to children and some adults with special health care needs.

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services – Kent County
Essential health care coverage available to those who otherwise cannot afford it. Michigan has many health care programs available to children, families and adults who meet eligibility requirements.

Other Resources for Families

Child Link GR 
[email protected]
We are a speech/language therapist and a special education teacher who joined forces to help link parents with tutors, therapists and other educational specialists (including consultation services and IEP support).

Family Tree Therapies
Family Tree Therapies is a multidisciplinary therapy clinic specializing in occupational and speech-language therapy.

Levine Benjamin Law Firm 
A social security disability firm specializing in helping individuals and families that want to apply for or have been denied benefits due to their disabilities. 

7 thoughts on “Special Needs Directory: Resources for Autism, Anxiety, ADHD, Epilepsy & More”

  1. Moving to the area have an autistic 23 year old who is social are there any activity he can get involved in . He is quite active here with soccer and bowling and penguin project where they do drama projects at civic theater with mentors is there anything like this in grand Rapids.

  2. Planning on moving to the area need info on 18 year old with autism, cerebral palsy. Aggressive sometimes but he is currently in special ed here in Florida. We need programs that include transitioning to day programs and eventually group home. Florida has nothing to offer adults here

  3. Please add:

    Down Syndrome Association of West Michigan (DSAWM.org). A huge asset to have in the area for families that have a loved one with Down Syndrome.

    Compassionate Heart Ministry (compheart.org). An amazing place for kids with special needs in the Holland/Zeeland area.

  4. Thanks for putting this together. Do you have any resourced for finding child care for teens or tweens with autism? I’m a single parent who has to work. I don’t qualify for respite care. I’m having a devil of a time finding a care provider for my son while I work. I live in Northern Kent County.

  5. These look great! I just finished working on another resource that you may find helpful…It is a printable planner that parents of children with special needs can use when they leave their child in someone else’s care. It tracks mealtimes, medications, playtime, etc, and it is free. You can view it here: http://planner.thecplawyer.com/. Hope this is helpful!

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