Family Resources

Family members of a person with intellectual disabilities often feel confused and alone. Getting involved with Special Olympics Wisconsin (SOWI) gives families a support network providing them acceptance, resources, hope and a chance to become advocates – making them a valued voice in our movement. Families can choose their level of involvement in the Special Olympics program. Some families provide not only encouragement and love, but may coach, offer transportation, assist with fund-raising, officiate, chaperone, and train other volunteers within their local agency.

Family Handbook and Brochures

Community Resources



  • Wisconsin Department of Health Services
  • Aging and Disability Resource Centers: ADRCs provide a wealth of services and information for individuals with disability that are 18 years of age or older, including assistance finding services to match needs of individuals and families of individuals with disabilities, such as:
     In-home care
     Housekeeping
     Home modifications
     Respite
     Transportation
     Nutrition & home delivered meals
     Housing
     Assisted living facilities
     Financial assistance
     Legal issues
     Mental health services
     Employment and vocational services
     Adaptive equipment
     Medicare, Medicaid, and social security benefits specialists
  • CompassWisconsin: Threshold: Threshold provides a unified point for intake, application and eligibility determination for children’s long-term support (CLTS) services for families in Adams, Columbia, Green, Jefferson, Kenosha, Lafayette, Marquette, Ozaukee, Racine, Rock, Walworth, Washington and Waukesha counties.
  • Regional Centers for Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs: Wisconsin has five Regional Centers dedicated to supporting families with children and youth with special health care needs and the providers who serve them. The Centers are staffed by specialists who can help get answers, find services and connect you to community resources. Their services are free and private.


  • American Association on Health and Disability: The American Association on Health and Disability (AAHD) is a cross-disability national non-profit organization committed to promoting health and wellness initiatives for children and adults with disabilities. The AAHD:
    • Maintains the Health Promotion Resource Center
    • Represents people with disabilities in national activities related to health and disability
    • Partners with health care, disability organizations, academic and research institutions and federal agencies.
    • Disseminates current scientific, programmatic and policy information on disability and health
    • Provides technical assistance to federal agencies, non-profits and academic institutions
    • Sponsors conferences and symposiums on topics related to disability and health.
    • Advocates and supports programs that improve the lives of people with disabilities at the national level.


  • Generations – Supporting People with Dementia and Their Caregivers in the Community
  • Family Voices of Wisconsin: Family Voices of Wisconsin is a statewide network of families who have children with special health care needs and disabilities and those who work on their behalf. Their focus is health care access, coverage and supports and services for children with special needs.
  • Wisconsin First Step: First Step is a statewide Information and Referral (I&R) hotline that serves families with children and youth who have special needs. The line is operational 24 hours/day, 7 days a week. Parent Specialists, who have disability expertise and a child with a special need, answer the line Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dial 800-642-7837.
  • Wisconsin Family Caregiver Support Programs: Located in every county and tribe in the state, Wisconsin’s Family Caregiver Support Programs provide information and assistance to help people better care for their loved ones – and themselves. Programs give caregivers access to the information and services that can help them in the role of caregiver.
  • Parent to Parent Wisconsin: Parent to Parent of Wisconsin provides parent support to parents of children with special needs through a one-to-one connection with another parent who has similar experience and who knows firsthand about the feelings and realities that come with having a child with special needs.
  • Center for Parent Information and Resources: The Center for Parent Information and Resources (CPIR) serves as a central resource of information and products to serve families of children with disabilities. Wisconsin Chapter:
  • Family Caregiver Alliance: The Family Caregiver Alliance (FCA) is community-based nonprofit organization addressing the needs of families and friends providing long-term care for loved ones at home. They provide caregivers the assistance they need, and champion their cause through education, services, research, and advocacy.
  • The Arc: The ARC advocates for the rights and full participation of all children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. They work to ensure that laws and policies benefit people with disabilities, services are designed to make sure quality support programs exist, and help train and support people with disabilities to be self-advocates.
    Wisconsin Chapter: There are also county specific chapters of The Arc for some counties in Wisconsin.
  • PACER Center: PACER provides individual assistance, workshops, publications, and other resources to help families make decisions about education and other services for their child or young adult with disabilities.Autism Resources for Families: Being armed with information about autism spectrum disorder (ASD) helps families feel more comfortable as they face new challenges. Some families need to know where to start when one member of the family has been recently diagnosed. Other families face unexpected difficulties as their loved ones with ASD learn to live effectively in home, school, or community settings. We are dedicated to supporting families by making information and resources more readily available.
  • is an online multi-media company dedicated to be the ultimate resource for everything related to the special needs community. Providing practical advice, emotional support, current trending news and educational information to empower caregivers and families of children and adults with disabilities and special healthcare needs. As well as to the physicians, allied health care professionals, and educational professionals who are involved in their care and development.
  • Sesame Street and Autism
  • CDC Autism Links and Resources


  • The Wisconsin Board for People with Developmental Disabilities (WBPDD)was established to advocate on behalf of individuals with developmental disabilities, foster inclusive communities, and improve the disability service system.
  • The National Youth Leadership Network: The National Youth Leadership Network hosts on online library of curriculums, training guides, and empowerment tools created by and for young leaders based on first-hand expertise in numerous areas.
  • Self-Advocacy Online: This website provides links to local self-advocacy groups, stories from self-advocates, and lessons/trainings in health, relationships, and self-advocacy.
    Self-advocacy organizations in Wisconsin:
  • National Gateway to Self-Determination: This site provides a single access for self-advocates, professionals, policy-makers, families, and the general public on enhancing self-determination in the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
  • Disability Rights Wisconsin: Disability Rights helps people across Wisconsin gain access to services and opportunity through its advocacy and legal expertise.
  • Education-a-Must: Education-a-Must provides advocate services for children and youth with physical, emotional, behavioral, or learning disabilities. They supply coaching, counseling, direct advocacy and referrals to help find needed services from schools, community, local, state and federal agencies.
  • FAPE, Free Appropriate Public Education: Provides parents, educators, service providers, and policymakers with important national news and information related to improving educational outcomes for children with disabilities.
  • Family Center on Technology and Disability: The Family Center on Technology and Disability provides thousands of assistive and instructional technology resources of interest to families of children with disabilities. The website offers access to fact sheets, Power Point presentations, monthly newsletters, online discussion and much more.
  • WisTech Assistive Technology: WisTech serves as a statewide resource for all things assistive technology. Through collaborative partnerships, Wistech provides device demonstrations, loans, reutilization, and technical assistance training.
  • Think Beyond the Label: Think Beyond the Label offers individuals with disabilities information, tools and resources to aid in their job search so they can find meaningful employment in their chosen field.
  • Thriving in Trade School with a Disability: As high school graduation draws near, students with disabilities encounter a spectrum of options for their transition into the working world. Some students find vocational programs to be a viable post-secondary option as they lead to meaningful, independent work in a skilled trade. The following guide highlights the benefits of vocational education, potential careers, and laws that protect both students and employees with disabilities. Employers can also find simple steps for promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
  • Accessibility and Employment: What People with Disabilities Need to Know: Clearly, technology has tremendous power and promise. It has fundamentally transformed the way we live and work, optimizing and accelerating our productivity. These days, it’s essential to applying for a job, getting a job, and doing a job. And as long as it’s accessible, it can be a great equalizer in ensuring that people with disabilities can obtain, retain and advance in employment. To optimize their potential, individuals with disabilities (and other technology users who can benefit from accessible and/or assistive technologies) should have a basic understanding of what accessible workplace technology is—and use this knowledge to assess and meet their own needs.
  • Disaster Safety for People with Disabilities: What to Do When Emergency Weather Strikes: We all like to believe that when a major hurricane is headed our way or a tornado warning is issued, we’ll know exactly what to do. But inclement weather is unpredictable, and it can be frightening and chaotic to handle in the moment. It’s crucial to prepare and plan well in advance for any natural disaster that your area is prone to, especially if you have a disability that could require additional safety considerations.
  • Social skills for adolescents and adults: You might find social situations difficult. Other people appear to know, intuitively, how to communicate and interact with each other, yet they can also struggle to build rapport with autistic people. You may feel that your social differences mean other people don’t understand you.

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