Special Needs

Check out these resources:



Coast Music Therapy

Coast Music Therapy, Inc., is a San Diego-based agency committed to serving children and adolescents who require a creative approach to learning by using music to facilitate individual growth and achievement. We believe that accessing an individual’s strengths to overcome personal challenges leads to a meaningful and positive learning experience.
Contact: Michelle Lazar, MT-BC
Phone: 858-453-5211
Web: www.coastmusictherapy.com


Ability First-Camp Paivika

Located in the beautiful San Bernardino National Forest, the camp offers overnight summer and winter/spring programs for children and adults with mild to severe developmental and physical disabilities such as autism, ADHD, cerebral palsy, epilepsy and Down syndrome. It is fully accredited by the American Camp Association.
Phone number: (626) 396-1010 ext. 1123
Web: www.camppaivika.org/default.htm

Kids of Courage

A unique traveling Summer Camp for critically ill children, who are given a chance to disconnect from their daily struggles and experience freedom and adventure like every child. Under strict medical supervision they visit parks and attractions, bond with new friends, meet celebrities, and experience the Dream & Wish trip of a lifetime.
Web: kidsoc.org/

The Painted Turtle

The Painted Turtle is the sixth addition to Paul Newman’s family of Hole in the Wall Camps for seriously ill children, including those with cerebral palsy. It is also the only multi-disease camp and family care center of its kind on the West Coast. Through educational, therapeutic, safe, and just plain fun summer camp and year-round programs, The Painted Turtle provides a life-changing experience to children whose daily struggles often diminish both their desire to be well and their ability to lead a rich, productive life. The Painted Turtle offers an exhilarating, challenging, and nurturing array of traditional summer camp recreational activities, seamlessly intertwined with programs that inspire children to become more self-confident and self-reliant, as well as more cooperative with their medical caregivers. There is a strong healing potential in the lessons children learn and the friendships they form at The Painted Turtle.
Phone Number: 661-724-1768 x 203
E-mail: info@thepaintedturtle.org
Web: www.thepaintedturtle.org

Leaps n Boundz (Los Angeles, CA)

Leaps n Boundz is an adaptive sports and recreation program for children of all ages with special needs . We offer programs in gymnastics, swimming and ball skills, both one-on-one and in small groups.
Email: info@leapsnboundz.com
Web: www.leapsnboundz.com


Access-Career Quest

A social/professional outpost for Graduates with a disability. The Access Career Quest Ambassador program provides free peer mentors to college students and recent graduates who have disabilities. The program focuses on helping students make a successful college to career transition.
Web: www.accesscq.org

College Living Experience

Since 1989, College Living Experience (CLE) has been providing post-secondary supports to students with autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, ADHD, and other varying exceptionalities. Dedicated to providing the highest quality of individualized services in the areas of academics, independent living, social skills, and career development, CLE supports are tailored to each young adult we serve. It is through personalized services, our team celebrates the uniqueness of students in such a way that we are able to make a lasting impact in their lives and in their communities.

CLE began with one center over 20 years ago and has grown across the United States offering supports and services in 6 locations serving over 250 students a year. The success of CLE as the industry leader in post-secondary transition supports comes from our dedication to remain focused on the potential for each individual we serve. The evolution and innovation of CLE is defined by our mission which inspires us to reach beyond the boundaries of the traditional supports many of our families have been accustomed to their whole lives. As an organization, we are passionate about working with students to reach their greatest level of independence. Services are provided through community integration helping students understand, imagine, and create solutions that give meaning and value in their world.
Web: http://experiencecle.com/


San Diego Regional Center

The San Diego Regional Center (SDRC) serves as a focal point in the community through which a person with a developmental disability and his or her family can obtain services and be linked to other community resources within San Diego and Imperial counties.
It is the philosophy of the Regional Center that each client shall be provided with opportunities to participate in everyday living experiences that permit development to the highest potential.
The San Diego Regional Center provides a variety of services to persons with developmental disabilities, their families, and the community. These services are in addition to those provided within the health, education, and social services systems.
The San Diego Regional Center advocates for opportunities for persons with developmental disabilities to maximize potential and to experience full inclusion in all areas of community life.
Web: http://sdrc.org/

San Diego County SELPAs

What is a Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA)? In 1977, all school districts and county offices of education were required to join to form geographical regions of sufficient size and scope to provide for all of the special education service needs of children residing within the region boundaries. Each region developed a local plan describing how it would provide special education services. The SELPA governance structure varies in form. Single district SELPAs are of such significant size to provide all services within their boundaries while smaller districts joined consortia to provide the full range of services. There are six SELPAs in San Diego County:
• North Coastal Consortium for Special Education SELPA
• North Inland Special Education Region SELPA
• East County SELPA
• South County SELPA
• Poway Unified School District SELPA
• San Diego Unified School District SELPA
Web: http://www.sdcoe.net/student-services/special-education/Pages/county-selpas.aspx

TASK-Team of Advocates for Special Kids

Team of Advocates for Special Kids (TASK) is a nonprofit charitable organization whose mission is to enable individuals with disabilities to reach their maximum potential by providing them, their families and the professionals who serve them with training, support, information, resources and referrals, and by providing community awareness programs.
Initially, the primary focus was on children three to 21 years of age, but services evolved to include all ages, especially in the TASK Technology Center. TASK serves families of children aged birth to 26 years of age under IDEA and other systems mandated to provide services to individuals with disabilities. As a federally-funded Parent Training and Information Center, TASK is part of a national network of centers providing similar services. TASK provides advocacy information, workshops and information in English, Spanish and Vietnamese.
Phone number: (877) 609-3218 (toll-free in California) or (619) 282-0846
E-Mail: task@taskca.org
Web: www.taskca.org

Easter Seals of San Diego County

Easter Seals provides exceptional services to ensure that all people with disabilities or other special needs and their families have equal opportunities to live, learn, work and play in their communities.
El Centro Adult Day Center: 760-482-2777
North San Diego County Services & Administration: 760-737-3990
South San Diego County Services: 619-336-0630
Web: southerncal.easterseals.com

Food Allergy Research and Education

About FARE – Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) works on behalf of the 15 million Americans with food allergies, including all those at risk for life-threatening anaphylaxis. This potentially deadly disease affects 1 in 13 children in the United States – or roughly two in every classroom. FARE is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that was formed in 2012 as the result of a merger between the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network and the Food Allergy Initiative.
Web: http://www.foodallergy.org/home

Learning Disability Association of San Diego (LDA)

LDA is dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for all individuals with learning disabilities and their families, alleviating the restricting effects of learning disabilities, and supporting endeavors to determine the causes of learning disabilities.
Phone: 858-467-9158
Web: www.LDAsandiego.org

National Education Association (NEA)

Gives updates on the US Dept. of Education’s Office of Special Education programs and reports.
Web: www.nea.org/specialed


Ability Awareness in Action

We are committed to creating environments where all children are included and appreciated within their learning communities and beyond.

We are committed to the understanding that disability is a natural and normal part of the human experience and a valuable part of diversity.

We celebrate diversity and the inclusion of everyone.

We are committed to the understanding that societal attitudes and barriers are more disabling than impairments or differences themselves.

We are committed to educating, enlightening, and empowering learning communities and families with strategies and with hope for creating a brighter future for people who experience disability as well as society as a whole.

Through our educational endeavors, we foster a culture of respect, appreciation, and dignity for people of all abilities in communities worldwide, and for generations to come, in order that in all people’s futures, there exist possibilities of living personally fulfilling lives, surrounded by people they love and who love them.

KIT-Kids Included Together

KIT stands for Kids Included Together, a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that was founded in San Diego, California in 1997. The mission of Kids Included Together is to support recreational, child development and youth development programs that include children with and without disabilities. KIT’s goals are to enrich the lives of all who participate and to increase understanding and acceptance of disabilities as a natural part of life.
Phone: 858-225-5680
Email: info@kitonline.org
Web: www.kitonline.org/index.html


Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays San Diego County
PFLAG promotes the health and well-being of LGBT persons, their families and friends through support; education; and advocacy
Web: www.pflag.com

PIQE: Parent Institute for Quality Education : “Creating a College-Going Culture”

Mission –PIQE’s mission is to connect families, schools and community as partners to advance the education of every child through parent engagement.

Vision– Our vision is to create a community in which parents and educators collaborate to transform every child’s educational environment, both at home and at school, so that all children can achieve their greatest academic potential.

Guiding Principles – All parents love their children and want a better future for them.
Every child can learn and deserves the option of a college education. Parents and teachers must work together to ensure the educational success of every child.
For children, learning is a natural process that parents and teachers facilitate.
Web: www.piqe.org


tHAIRapy Hair Salon

tHAIRapy Hair Salon is a family salon specializing in and catering to our clientele with AUTISM and SPECIAL NEEDS. From our sensory wall, to our wheelchair accessible shampoo bowl & station, to our specially trained therapy dog arriving in December. We are continuously striving to offer the best of the best to each and every one of our clients. tHAIRapy Hair Salon is here to change the way parents and kids feel about haircut day.
Phone number: (619) 241-2273
Web: www.thairapyhairsalon.com/

Paws’itive Teams

Paws’itive Teams, incorporated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in California, provides service dogs for persons with disabilities, enabling these persons to live more independent lives and to achieve an enhanced quality of life. We custom-train our service dogs to meet the specific needs of the individual and provide lifetime team support following placement. All placements are limited to San Diego County.
Phone: 858-279-7297
Email: paws@pawsteams.org
Web: www.pawsteams.org

Blue Roses Girls

Welcome to Blue Roses Girls, where all girls who experience social, sensory, cognitive, and physical differences are welcome.
Blue Roses Girls Group was formed because making and sustaining friendships becomes
more challenging as the social dynamic of girl friendship shifts from playing together to talking together about common interests such as hair care, skin care, make up, boys, dating, and hanging out at each other’s homes.
Web: http://bluerosesgirls.com/home.php


Flourishing Families

Annual publication by Special Needs Resource Foundation of San Diego with 1,200+ resources for special needs.

Web: https://specialneedsresourcefoundationofsandiego.com/program/flourishing-families/ 

Exceptional Parent Magazine

A family and professional site for the special needs community.
Web: www.eparent.com

The Special Life

The information you’ll find here will help you on a day-to-day basis, whether you live with a special needs child or are a teacher of someone with special needs, such as cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, autism or Aspergers syndrome.
Web: www.thespeciallife.com/index.html

Valerie’s List

ENewsletters Information: Started over 14 years ago by a parent, the ValeriesList.com enewsletters continue to provide news and resources to over 2,800 individuals, and growing,in Southern California who are involved in the ASD community. The enewsletters contain information about articles, events, non-profit activities, parent inquiries, programs offered by professionals and private schools, research, support groups, and other items of interest.
Web: www.valerieslist.com

Wrights Law

Provides a free internet newsletter with legal updates and tips. The website also offers links to important cases and legislation and publications.
Web: www.wrightslaw.com



City of San Diego

Provides sports, recreation, leisure and outreach services to San Diegans with physical, mental and emotional disabilities. Services include therapeutic recreation programs and adaptive sports opportunities which address the special needs of individuals with disabilities who have difficulty accessing and participating in recreation opportunities offered to the general public.
Phone: 858-756-4117, ext. 319
Web: www.sandiego.gov/park-and-recreation/activities/trs

San Diego Adaptive Sports Foundation

Provides adaptive sports programs year-round. San Diego Adaptive Sports Foundation’s mission is to improve the quality of life for children and adults with physical disabilities through sports and recreation.
Phone: 619-336-1806
Web: www.sdasf.org

SDSU Fitness Clinic for Individuals with Disabilities

The Fitness Clinic for Individuals with Disabilities is designed to help those in the San Diego community with disabilities to maximize their level of fitness.
Contact: Jan Thurman
Phone: 619-594-2017
Web: http://fitnessclinic.sdsu.edu/

Martial Arts

Family Karate

A Karate program located in Rancho Penasquitos that has classes for kids with special needs.
Phone: (858) 484-4747
Web: familykaratepq.com

Orion Marital Arts

Orion Martial Arts, located in San Marcos, proudly presents a class for students with special needs. All children are welcomed and embraced! A structured class that meets the needs of kids with autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, developmental disabilities, etc. Students are taught to defend themselves, work together and succeed!
Contact: Laura Gomez
Phone: 760-445-9731
Email: fiverings@cox.net


La Jolla Special Piranhas

The Special Needs Ice Hockey program is a not-for –profit organization, run by parents and volunteer coaches who are skilled at working with kids with special needs. Special needs players not only learn to skate – they learn about cooperation and teamwork; they develop social skills and they experience camaraderie; they have fun in this exciting sport, and they feel great pride as they develop their skills and make that goal – like any other player! Members of San Diego Hockey community will be open to join the team on the ice to help coach and to give the Piranhas some competition.The team will be centered at the UTCice arena located at the University Towne Center in La Jolla.
E-mail: lrbecker@san.rr.com
Web: sites.google.com/site/lajollaspecialpiranhas1/home

Rock Climbing

MESA RIM Adaptive Climbing Program

We at Mesa Rim Climbing Center are always looking for ways to create an all-inclusive environment. In order to carry out that vision we have created a program allowing children and adults with physical disabilities a chance to experience the amazing sport of rock climbing within a safe and encouraging environment. Participants are paired with experienced climbers who will match them with the appropriate gear and get them climbing!
Web: www.mesarim.com/location/mira-mesa/get-moving/youth/teams-and-programs/

Flag Football

Palomar Pop Warner Challenger Flag Football

Challenger Football is designed for children with disabilities to enjoy sports and cheer just like everyone else.
Contact: Nicole Turner, Challenger Coordinator
Phone: 760-445-6710
Email: Nicole.Turner@travelerservices.com
Web: www.palomarconferencepopwarner.com/challenger/


Shooting Stars Basketball

Shooting Stars Basketball was created for children with disabilities to learn and enjoy the game of basketball. This inclusive program is designed for children with a variety of disabilities (including autism, Down syndrome, and other physical and mental disabilities).
Contact: Rick Clark
Phone: 760-504-7242
Web: http://www.eteamz.com/smybbshootingstars1/


The Miracle League of San Diego

The Miracle League is a charitable organization that provides children with mental and/or physical challenges with opportunity to play baseball as a team member in an organized league.
Phone: (858) 964-2222
Web: www.miracleleagueofsandiego.org

Vista Girls Spirit Softball Division

Softball program for boys and girls ages 5-17 with physical and/or intellectual disabilities.
Contact Person: Faygene Barber
Email: spirit@vistags.org


Tierrasanta Ayso Region 152 Soccer Vip Program

The AYSO VIP program provides a quality soccer experience for children and adults whose physical or mental disabilities make it difficult to successfully participate on mainstream teams. All VIP players have the opportunity to play a minimum of one-half of each game.
Phone: (858) 999-0294
Web: www.ayso152.org

U.S. Youth Soccer TOPSoccer

U..S Youth Soccer TOPSoccer (The Outreach Program for Soccer) is a community-based training and team placement program for young athletes with disabilities, organized by youth soccer association volunteers. The program is designed to bring the opportunity of learning and playing soccer to any boy or girl, who has a mental or physical disability. Our goal is to enable the thousands of young athletes with disabilities to become valued and successful members of the U.S. Youth Soccer family.
Web: http://www.usyouthsoccer.org/programs/TOPSoccer/


Helen Woodward Animal Center (Ages 4 AND UP)

Contact: Alicia Roe
Phone: 858-756-4117, ext. 319
Web: www.animalcenter.org/therapeuticriding/


Our mission is to provide equine assisted activities and therapies to children and adults with physical, cognitive and/or emotional disabilities. We strive to enhance the lives of our riders, their families and volunteers in a safe, equestrian oriented environment.
Contact Person: Ingrid Mourey, Executive Director
Phone: (858) 231-7889
Fax: (858) 486-7789
Email: ingridmourey@gmail.com
Web: povatrc.org

RAD Therapeutic Riding Center

Ride Above Disability Therapeutic Riding Center is a non-profit organization providing equestrian activities to children and adults with special need.
Phone number: (858) 349-1692
Email: wayne.radtrc@gmail.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/radtrc

Reins-Therapeutic Horsemanship Program (Ages 2 AND UP)

Contact: Debbie Shiner or Shauna Jopes
Phone: 760-731-9168
Web: www.reinsprogram.org/

Rockin L and D Ranch

Located in Escondido, Lori and her certified staff, offer horse riding lessons to kids and adults with special needs. Summer camps are also available.
Contact Person: Lori Hall-Mcnary
Phone Number: (760) 224-2483
E-mail: hallmcnary@earthlink.net
Web: www.rockinldranch.com



ClubXcite is a private San Diego youth mentoring and tutoring organization focused on supporting children and teens facing academic, social, behavioral, emotional or athletic challenges. If you have a child who is struggling please take some time to look through this website.
Web: www.exciteway.com

Able-Disabled Advocacy

Able-Disabled Advocacy (A-DA) is a non-profit organization founded in 1975 that provides employment and training services to individuals with all types of disabilities and other barriers to employment. Able-Disabled Advocacy’s mission is “to provide vocational skills training and educational advancement for youth and adults with disabilities and to assist them in finding employment and overcoming barriers to personal and financial self-sufficiency.”
Phone number: (619) 231-5990
Web: www.able2work.org

Department of Rehabilitation

The San Diego District of the Department of Rehabilitation serves people with disabilities in all of San Diego County and Southern Orange County. With offices in North, East, Metro and South Counties, there is an office close to every major population center. The San Diego District supports the overall mission of the Department, and has developed our own specific vision statement as well.
Our vision reads: “The San Diego District of the Department of Rehabilitation will be the lead agency in the provision of services to people with disabilities in the community. We will be an integral, invaluable partner with other agencies in our area that are committed to increasing employment opportunities and outcomes for people with disabilities. Our staff will be dedicated to our mission, and empowered to positively affect the lives of our consumers.
In partnership with our consumers, we will develop and implement plans which result in employment outcomes consistent with the unique interest, abilities and priorities of those we serve. Trust, kindness, respect, creativity, a commitment to excellence and the exercise of professional judgment will mark our work environment.
Web: www.rehab.cahwnet.gov/sandiego/

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