Programs for Children with Special Needs

Families of children with special needs often struggle to find places where their children can socialize with other children. Parents also need resources to help them help their kids. Queens offers several great options, and New York State offers a lot of support as well.



Organization: Living Above Disorder

What they offer: Resources, Support, and Activities

Contact: (646-481-6570)

Living Above Disorder educates parents about becoming advocates for their children. If you’re not sure how to navigate the ever-changing, confusing world of education and the assistance your child is entitled to, this site is invaluable. They also offer workshops such as sensitivity and diversity training and consulting services about finding the right school for your child. Check their website for upcoming events. In the summer they are planning to bring back their popular Lego Playgroup at Robo MindTech.


Organization: Parent to Parent of New York State

What they offer: Support, Resources, Training

Contact: Ellen McHugh; , (212) 229-3222

Similar to Living Above Disorder, Parent to Parent provides parents with numerous resources that they can use to advocate for their children at all ages. All of their regional coordinators are parents or close relatives of children with special needs, so they can empathize with what the parents who contact them are going through.  They put parents in touch with other parents of children with similar disabilities, help families find information they need, and offer workshops on various issues that parents face.

Organization: Resources for Children with Special Needs

What they offer: Support, Advocacy and Training

Event: Special Services Camp Fair

When: January 28, 11:00-3:00

Where: Church of St. Paul the Apostle, Entrance on Columbus Ave. between West 59th and 60th St.

Contact: (212) 677-4650

The Resources for Children with Special Needs offers support and training for parents. From deciphering your child’s IEP to bonding with your child, you can take courses to help you assist your child. They also host parent support groups.

The Special Services Camp Fair is a great place to check out camps and other activities for your child for the upcoming summer.  Attendees will receive a copy of Camps 2011-2012. There will also be sign language interpreters and Spanish translators on hand.

Company: Worksman Cycle Company

What they offer: Affordable bikes for people with special needs

Contact: (718) 322-2000; 94-15 100th Street, Ozone Park, Queens

Finding bicycles for people with special needs can be difficult and expensive. This well-respected, Queens-based bicycle manufacturer makes high quality bikes for people with special needs without the high price tag. They will also work with you to customize a bike, if necessary.

Organization: Super Soccer Stars

What they offer: Soccer Classes for Children with Special Needs

When: Saturdays: 12:40-1:25

Where: PS 212, 34-25 82nd St., between 34th and 35th Ave., Jackson Heights

Age Group: 5-9 year olds

Cost: $585

Contact: (212) 877-7171 (Meredith)

This amazing program helps instill in children a sense of structure and accomplishment through their fun, engaging soccer classes. There are two children assigned to each coach, and the classes are created using the expertise of early childhood, behavioral, ABA, and soccer specialists. Children also build their confidence and socialization skills. The winter class session began January 2nd and runs through April 7th (No class 2/11), but it is open enrollment, so you still have time to join! These classes are appropriate for children with ADD, autism, and other forms of PDDNOS (Pervasive Developmental-Not Otherwise Specified).

Organization: Dancing Dreams

What they offer: Dance classes for girls with physical or medical challenges

Contact: (718) 428-6200

This unique dance program was created in 2002 by Joann Ferrara, a pediatric physical therapist who wanted all girls who dream of dancing to have the opportunity to fulfill their dreams. Dancing Dreams offers ballet classes to children ages 3-16 with a variety of physical or medical challenges that keep them from participating in community classes.  Each student is paired with a high school volunteer who is trained to help her during class and recitals. There are two recitals a year: The Nutcracker during the holiday season and a spring recital. Classes are pay-what-you-can, and no one is turned away because they cannot pay. Contact them for locations.

Organization: Queens Museum of Art

What they offer: A variety of art-based programs for people with special
Where: Queens Museum of Art, New York City Building, Flushing Meadows Corona Park

Contact: (718) 592-9700

The Queens Museum of Art hosts many programs for children and adults with special needs. These include:

  • Signed Sundays for the Deaf Community: This is a bi-monthly tour of the historic “Panorama of the City” exhibit. It is conducted in American Sign language, is free, and is open to the public.
  • Open Studios for Adults with Special Needs: The Open Studio class gives adults with special needs the opportunity to explore artwork as a creative outlet. Each student must be accompanied by a care-giver who is responsible for that students behavior. This is a weekly class that requires pre-registration. For more information or to register, please contact: Michelle López at x. 138 or
  • Outreach Programs: For people who cannot make it to the museum, the museum can come to them! The museum can bring slide presentations, tactile objects and art workshops to your school or facility. They can customize a workshop to your needs, and prices may vary. For more information, please contact x132


Organization: Samuel Field Y

What they offer: After-school and recreational programs, camps, support groups

Contact: Robin J. Topol, LCSW Director Special Services, (718) 225-6750 ext. 259 or

The Samuel Field Y provides children and teens with opportunities to socialize and receive academic assistance. There is a rigorous screening process required by New York State, but if your child is accepted, they will be eligible to participate in any of the following programs:

  • After school program: Designed for children ages 5-21 with developmental disabilities. Transportation can be arranged from school to the Y, and from the Y to the child’s home at the end of the day.
  • PROJECT CHILD (2:30-6:00 daily at the Bay Terrace Center) This after school program is designed to meet the needs of elementary school children with learning disabilities, ADHD, and mild autistic spectrum disorders. While children do receive homework help, they also learn socialization skills which help them boost their self-esteem.  For more information, please contact: (718) 423-6111
  • Special Teens: A once monthly meet-up for high functioning and independent teens with developmental disabilities. Teens participate in a variety of recreational activities to help them socialize and build confidence.
  • Weekday after-school program for pre-school children with disabilities: This is a twice weekly program that offers professionally facilitated play experiences as well as learning activities geared towards children with special needs. They also offer support for parents and activities for siblings. Gym and Creative Exploration takes place on Wednesdays from 3:00-4:30 at 58-20 Little Neck Pkwy., Little Neck (718.225.6750 x262). Monday Magic: Learn and Play takes place on Mondays from 3:00-4:30 at 212-00 23rd Ave., Bayside (718.225.6750 x262). There is a $5.00/child and scholarship assistance is available.


Megan Ross