Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics: Resources & Family Support

Below, you'll find information on resources and community organizations related to your child's developmental health. Some of these resources can be utilized both while you're waiting for an appointment with a developmental pediatrician or after your child is seen by one. This page is intended to provide information about community resources and does not serve as official recommendations by Lurie Children's. 

Free workshops and recordings on your child’s special education rights

What is an IEP?

Parent guide on the Illinois State Board of Education's website

If you feel like your child's needs are not being properly met by the school

  • Contact the school (in person AND via email is best, as it shows date and time of your communication).  Ask for a meeting with the appropriate school professional. This could be the case manager, the school social worker, the teacher and/ or the principal.
    • Ask for a copy and review your child's Individual Education Plan (IEP). This is the document that outlines what kind of support the school must provide to your child. If you would like to change the IEP, state that in the communication (email is best) with the school.
  • If the school is not responsive, you can also call your district's Office of Special Education to discuss your child's case.
    • For Chicago Public Schools the office is:
      Chicago Public Schools-Office of Diverse Learners
      42 West Madison
      Chicago, Illinois 60602
      Phone: 773.553.1800
  • You can also refer to this advocating guidance: https://www.cps.edu/services-and-supports/special-education/understanding-special-education/know-your-rights/ 

For more guidance as to appropriate next steps, you can also call into one of the parent resource helplines created to support parents of children in special education. Additionally, some families consider hiring a special education advocate.

Visual supports can be very helpful with children who are visual learners, who have communication problems or who become anxious about what is happening around them. These tools help a child to know what to expect and can help prevent challenging behavior.

There are many resources on the internet that can help you create visual support systems for your child. While many of the internet resources mention “autism,” it is important to note that a child does not have to have autism to benefit from these supports. 

Visual supports are particularly helpful for any child with communication delays and for young children experiencing challenging behaviors.

Want to learn more about how you can start using visual supports with your child?

  • Start by reading the tip sheet here from Vanderbilt University.  
  • Watch a helpful video from Autism Speaks on the use of visuals (First/ Then and Visual Schedules). Again, this is not only for children with autism.
  • Find and print off visuals here (daily schedules, managing anger/ frustration, identifying emotions, rewards charts, First/ Then options) from Chicago’s local Resource Center on Autism and Developmental Delay’s resource website. 
  • Other helpful websites for sample visual supports include:
  • Remember- you can always ask the professionals in your child’s life (teachers, therapists, pediatrician) for feedback or help with using visual supports.  You can also contact UIC’s Resource Center on Autism and Developmental Delay (phone: 312.746.5447), and their professionals can help you with creating the right visual supports for your child.  It may take time and practice to figure out which visual supports are most helpful.   
 

This list of recreation activities is by no means meant to indicate a recommendation by Lurie Children's, but merely lists resources available in the nearby community.  It is the responsibility of the caregiver to verify cost as well as to determine the quality of the service provider.

City of Chicago Resources

How to search activities available in your area/ for your child’s age: 

Scroll down, Click on “Special Recreation” and then search for activities in your area for your child’s age: Programs & Memberships | Chicago Park District

  • KEEN Chicago - many activities for children with developmental differences.
    Check out their website or call for more information https://www.keenchicago.org/ 
  • Adaptive Climbing Chicago

    Brooklyn Boulders Chicago
    100 South Morgan Street, Chicago, IL 60607
    Phone: 312.268.0002
    Email: chicago@adaptiveclimbinggroup.org

    Adaptive recreational activities good for individuals with physical, cognitive, and developmental disabilities.
  • Five Keys Yoga, LLC
    2225 W. Wabansia Ave., Suite 204, Chicago, IL 60647
    Phone: 847.899.0441

    Singing, breathing exercises, yoga poses, and deep relaxation for children with autism and developmental differences to promote regulation of behaviors and emotions.

  • YMCA Chicago
    inclusion@ymcachicago.org

    Membership centers include facilities with pools, fitness centers, sports programming, and traditional day camps. Contact the Inclusion Department for information on programs and supports.

    Locations: Buehler YMCA (Palatine), Camp Duncan (Ingleside), Camp MacLean (Burlington, WI), Camp Nawakwa (Lac du Flambeau, WI), Elmhurst YMCA, Foglia YMCA (Lake Zurich), Fry Family YMCA (Naperville), Greater LaGrange YMCA, Hastings Lake YMCA (Lindenhurst), Indian Boundary YMCA (Downers Grove), Irving Park YMCA, Kelly Hall (Garfield Park Chicago), Lake View YMCA (Chicago), McCormick YMCA (Logan Square, Chicago), Rauner YMCA (Lower West side, Chicago), Sage YMCA (Crystal Lake), South Side YMCA (Chicago).

Suburban Resources  

  • Special Recreation Associations
    • What is a special recreation association (SRA)?
      • A special recreation association (SRA) is a cooperative formed by 2 or more park districts or municipalities to provide recreation for their residents with disabilities. Similar to the park district and village recreation departments, programs are offered year-round in the park district facilities as well as private facilities such as theaters, bowling alleys, churches, etc. (Information from Special Recreation Association Network of Illinois)
      • SRAs often offer swim classes, sports, summer camps, and many other recreation options for children with developmental differences
    • Contact your local SRA for more details. Where to find your special recreation association: https://www.specialrecreation.org/find-my-services.html 

Swim Classes

Swim Classes in the Chicago area for children with Developmental Differences

As a young person gets older, it is important to start thinking about the future and what kind of activities, educational setting, and supports a young person will need.

We encourage families to start to think about insurance coverage, medical care, educational plans, financial plans, and any supports that a young person may need in decision making (such as Supported Decision Making or a need for Adult Guardianship).

Short 3-minute Videos to Start thinking about the Transition to Adulthood Process

Legal/ Decision Making Supports

General Information

Supporting Daily & Major Life Decisions - The Arc's Center for Future Planning

Videos/ Recorded Webinars

Forms

Low Cost Legal Assistance for Adult Guardianship Cases

Important Benefits Information

Financial Planning

Financing the Future - The Arc's Center for Future Planning

Free (Live and/or Recorded) Webinars:

  • The Arc of Illinois
  • The Autism Program of Illinois (TAP) offers a new training program for parents and caregivers of transition-aged youth
    • There are twelve modules in the training program. Each module features an expert-led presentation on a relevant transition topic and includes time for parent discussion and questions. Click here to register.
    • Topics include:
      • Person-Centered Planning
      • Guardianship and Alternatives
      • PUNS and Medicaid Waiver Services
      • Social Security Benefits
      • Health Insurance
      • Employment
      • Housing
      • and more! 

Recreational Opportunities for Young Adults

Search Rush Autism Resource Directory for resources close to home