You’re Not Alone – A Special Needs Resource Guide For Caregivers

When my son was five, he was diagnosed with a rare neurogenic syndrome after our new pediatrician investigated the chronic symptoms he had since birth.

Our relief and joy at a diagnosis (finally) was quickly replaced with anxiety and a million questions as we navigated the new reality of caring for a child with invisible special needs.

What now? Where do we go from here?

As most parents of a newly diagnosed special needs child would do, I spent hours researching medical articles, specialists, advice, and resources for families living with the same diagnosis.

This is precisely why Rebecca Hernandez opened Santosha Wellness (pronounced Sann-toe-sha) in Kalamazoo. Rebecca’s goal was simple –  to offer a variety of wellness services for kids regardless of their challenges, so that families could choose what programs best suited their child’s specific needs — now, and as they grow, develop, and change. 

Review this guide for a list of programs, agencies, and services that provide support to parents of children with special needs in the Kalamazoo area. And remember, you’ve got this!

This post is brought to you by Santosha Wellness.

Santosha Wellness is a children’s wellness center that offers a variety of services, from pediatric therapy and yoga to infant massage, baby and me programs, and social skills groups.
They specialize in supporting the whole family and meeting families where they are at, whether the family is there for individualized therapy or one of their more general group offerings. The team at Santosha Wellness utilizes their expertise as well as community resources to best serve every family that walks through their doors.

4341 S Westnedge Ave, Suite 2210, Kalamazoo, MI 49008| 269-254-8130
WEBSITE | FACEBOOK

Kalamazoo Offers a Phenomenal Community of Resources

No doubt about it, being a parent is hard.

Parenting a child with special needs is extra hard. Make Santosha Wellness your first call if you’re a caregiver of kids or teens with physical, developmental, behavioral/emotional, or sensory special needs. 

Not sure where to begin? Review Santosha’s Resource Page, for a listing of recommended reading and local resources.

When a parent comes to us, they’re overwhelmed. I want them to feel like we’ve got them and they can breathe easy,” Rebecca said. “We’ll help not just your child, but your entire family, find the support you need. It’s part of our whole child treatment philosophy We’ll be with you for the long haul, no matter what.”                                   

– Rebecca Hernandez, MS, OTR/L, CEIM – Owner, Occupational Therapist, Infant Massage Educator

This guide is by no means complete. Help grow this list. Do you know of other resources available in Southwest Michigan? If so, please leave a comment below the information and we’ll add it to the guide.

Special Needs instructions

Physical Special Needs Resources

While there’s often an overlap in multiple areas for kids with each diagnosis, the following organizations can help with physical special needs like occupational therapy, mobility and medical equipment, medical treatment and advocacy.

physical therapy resources in Kalamazoo

Developmental Special Needs Resources

From assessments and evaluations to therapy and medical treatment, these Kalamazoo-area organizations can help with autism, down syndrome, dyslexia, processing disorders, and other developmental special needs. 

Developmental Resources in Kalamazoo - boy playing with train set Santosha Wellness

Behavioral + Emotional Special Needs Resources

When behavioral and emotional disturbances prevent children from succeeding educationally or socially in a school setting, these resources can help.

Sensory Friendly Classes Kalamazoo

Sensory Special Needs, Language + Communication

It’s hard to learn and communicate when you can’t see, hear, or articulate like everyone else. But it’s not impossible, and these organizations can help provide the therapy and resources your child needs to thrive.

Find a Balance with Local Support and Online Groups

Kalamazoo mom, Danielle J., felt isolated when she and her husband found out their son Beckett was deaf. “We knew absolutely no one who was deaf, or had a child who was deaf, or who suffered any form of hearing loss – so we didn’t even know where to start.

Special Needs Resources - Deaf

After referrals to audiologists and specialists from their doctor, Danielle quickly sought out a support group. “I eventually found support through Facebook groups which helped me feel less alone, and I was able to ask questions about my son’s diagnosis, the cochlear implant devices, troubleshooting, behaviors, and more.”

A quick search for groups and pages on social media should result in local and national options for any caregiver.

Psychologists & Family Counselors

One thing I tell parents is that it’s ok to grieve, and we try to give parents the space to do so,” explains Rebecca of Santosha Wellness. “It’s absolutely normal and healthy to feel those feelings. You’re grieving the loss of expectations you had for your child prior to their diagnosis, and feeling anxious about shifting expectations. We all feel guilty, but it doesn’t make you a bad parent. You have to allow yourself to grieve.”

Your mental health as a parent and caregiver of a special needs child is important. Make the time to speak with a counselor – it’s part of the whole child approach. 

PSYCHOLOGISTS + FAMILY COUNSELORS

Resource Programs and Services

Community Healing Center

Jeff LaPonsie, LMSW – Kalamazoo Child and Family Counseling

Kristy Cavalli, LMSW, RPT-S – Play Therapy Zone (Play Therapy and Family Counseling)

Kelene Rogers, LPC, ADS, IMH-E (II) – Chosen, PLLC (Child and Family Counseling, specializes in trauma and severe behaviors)

Maureen Corts, LMSW – Ready for the World, LLC (Child and Family Counseling – uses Love and Logic® philosophy)

Shelly Woertink, LMCSW – Pediatric Counseling Center, LLC (specializes in medical and complex trauma)

Also, there are a number of Sensory-Friendly Activities and Places in greater Kalamazoo that put forth special effort into creating an environment conducive to sensory and limited mobility individuals.

What other resources have you used that we should add to the list?

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