Special Needs Guide

By Toledo Area Parent Staff

All children deserve to have the best resources their communities have to offer, regardless of their abilities. Our annual Special Needs Guide is a valuable tool for parents of children with different abilities. It is a compilation of educational, recreational, social, and physical wellness programs available in the Toledo area that can serve as a support system for any child’s needs. From early interventions and immersive therapies to outlets for socializing with other kids, these organizations are sure to help your child grow and thrive.

Lucas County Family Council – Help Me Grow
419-665-3322| helpmegrow.org

When it comes to giving children with developmental challenges the best support possible, Help Me Grow’s Early Intervention (EI) program is an excellent resource. The program provides services to families whose children younger than three have either a developmental delay, or a medical condition that puts them at risk for delayed development. This early intervention ensures that the children can put their best foot forward, so the earlier they are referred, the better. Anyone can refer their child to the program, which includes free screening and eligibility determination. Developmental areas addressed through Early Intervention include vision, hearing, nutrition, cognition, communication, fine and gross motor skills, as well as social-emotional and adaptive techniques (self-help skills). 

Services are completely voluntary, and there is no income requirement for eligibility. Services at no cost to the family include (1) a dedicated service coordinator as the family’s point of contact, (2) assessment of all areas of development by qualified team members, (3) an Individualized Family Service Plan based on your child’s needs and your priorities, and (4) early intervention services in your home or other settings. Children learn best through everyday experiences and routines in places they know. Your service coordinator and primary service provider support your child where you live, play, and spend your day.Team members can help families identify and access resources to help pay for other services, such as therapies.  

The referral process is simple. Anyone can refer a child to EI, and families can self-refer their child if they have concerns. To find out more about early intervention for your infant or toddler, call 1-800-755-GROW or go to ohioearlyintervention.org.


Sunshine Communities
7223 Maumee Western Rd., Maumee
419-865-0251 | sunshine.org

Parents of children with special needs will find a wide range of support from Sunshine Communities, an organization that offers residential, clinical, and vocational services, in addition to occupational, behavioral, speech, and physical therapies. Along with a gym, their Maumee campus has a multi-sensory room and accessible pool to provide exercise and intellectual stimulation. Staff members at Sunshine are well-trained and qualified to provide care to your child throughout the day while helping them achieve their goals.

A scheduled visit to the Maumee campus could also include Sunshine Acres, a therapeutic experience complete with llamas, miniature horses, donkey and other farm animals. The whole community is filled with these types of experiences, making it an encouraging environment for interacting with others, which is a valuable part of the learning process.

Pediatric Center Inc. (PCI)
3900 Sunforest Ct., #215, Toledo
419-473-6670
2702 Navarre Ave., Ste. 106, Oregon
419-697-6777| pediatriccenterinc.com

The Pediatric Center Inc. (PCI) provides a holistic approach to support all children. In addition to pediatric medical care, they offer mental health, behavioral, and academic assessments for children ages 3 to 18.  PCI has a licensed school psychologist on staff who meets with parents and guardians who have concerns regarding their child’s mental health and wellbeing. Their school psychologist, Stephanie Dillabaugh, Ed.S., has worked for PCI since 2014. She completes evaluations for attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and any school-related concerns with either academics and/or behavior.  Stephanie specializes in working with school-age evaluations, developing behavior and academic intervention plans, educational disabilities, ADHD, ASD, and other social and emotional difficulties. Please call the Toledo or Oregon office to schedule an appointment.

Green Options for Autism of Lucas County (G.O.A.L. Academy)
1660 Amesbury Rd.
419-720-4350 | goal4autism.com

The staff at Green Options for Autism of Lucas County (G.O.A.L. Academy) believes all students deserve a high-quality education that supports them in developing the academic, social, and emotional skills they need to become contributing members of society. G.O.A.L. is a program for students with autism and adults with developmental delays.  G.O.A.L. serves children,  young adults and families throughout Lucas County and the surrounding region, running a school for students with autism, as well as a day program that allows adults on the spectrum and with developmental delays to go out into the community and work.

This organization aims to empower participants by teaching them functional life and job skills. Highly trained instructors use technology, visual aids, and project-based learning to teach independence and communication skills.

Some of the foundational beliefs of G.O.A.L. include keeping a calm, clean environment to avoid sensory overload, maintaining a predictable schedule (providing a soothing sense of structure), and using clear, concise language that aligns with how students with autism learn. Learn more about the G.O.A.L. mission by visiting their website today.

Ability Center of Greater Toledo
5605 Monroe St., Sylvania
419-885-5733 | abilitycenter.org

The Ability Center of Greater Toledo (ACT) has a multitude of programs to promote independent living to youth and young adults. Participants in the Youth Program’s Life Skills classes get the added benefit of joining the Rec Club, a chance to socialize with peers in a variety of settings. The ACT Rec Club has coordinated all kinds of fun activities in the past, including trips to Cedar Point, bowling excursions, trips to the movies and to sporting events, and explorations of local festivals, just to name a few! Not only are these activities joyful occasions for the young people involved, but they also present a chance to gain important social skills.

ACT’s Rec Coordinator who helps facilitate these activities, acting as a support system for the young people who get involved in community activities. The position entails reaching out to families in the community who have kids with disabilities, while creating opportunities for their enrichment in innovative ways. Find out how to get your kids involved in the youth programming, along with other ACT programs, by visiting the Ability Center of Greater Toledo’s website, abilitycenter.org.

The Brody-Wargo Vision and Sensory Therapy Center
840 W. Boundary St., St. Rt. 25 Dixie Hwy., Perrysburg
419-931-2020|sensorylearning.com

The Brody-Wargo Vision and Sensory Therapy Center helps children and adults learn using a three-pronged approach. Using three modalities (auditory, visual, and vestibular), they offer a learning intervention, which consists of two 45-minute sessions each day for 12 consecutive days. The consistent, targeted approach engages the senses to improve children’s ability to cope with sensory stimuli and adopt new learning strategies.This intense treatment is then followed by weekly, direct occupational therapy services that target visual perceptual and visual motor needs.

“Before the Sensory Learning Program, Christopher wouldn’t allow me to trim his nails, became very upset with loud noises such as hand dryers, and would impulsively run off in the grocery store,” said one parent. “Now, he doesn’t mind grooming and isn’t bothered by bathroom hand dryers! He also walks with me throughout the store.” 

Another parent’s review of the Program: “David struggled with speaking and, although he still needs help to communicate, he is speaking more and learning new words every week!”

After the 12-day program, the child will go home with a portable light instrument to continue the program for an additional 18 days. Call the Perrysburg location to find out how your child can receive therapy at the Sensory Learning Center.