Family Resources


Parent Groups / Advocacy / Family Support

Equip for Equality

  • Provides free self-advocacy assistance for parents of children with disabilities, free legal representation and educational seminars for parents and organizations.

The Family Defense Center

  • The Family Defense Center's mission is to advocate justice for families in the child welfare system: a legal advocacy organization that provides high level systemic advocacy and grass-roots activities for families treated unfairly by state child protection agencies.

Special Ed Advocacy Center

  • The Special Ed Advocacy Center (SEAC) provides free legal services to low-income parents and caregivers of children with disabilities seeking to obtain appropriate educational services for their children provided under current law.


  • VOICE-Advocacy is an organization that provides support, training, and advocacy services for families of children with special needs in school settings. Our organization will assist you with your special education advocacy needs.

Neighborhood Parents Network (NPN)

  • Neighborhood Parents Network is the largest organized parent resource network in Chicago. NPN is the trusted resource for connecting Chicago parents. Find the support, information, and connections you need to tackle the every day challenges of being a parent. Get connected with other families all over Chicago online and in person. Easily find parents in your own neighborhood and with similar interests.

Fussy Baby Network

  • For parents struggling with a baby who is fussy, crying excessively, or has difficulties with sleeping or feeding. Infant specialists are familiar with all the latest research in infant crying, sleeping, and feeding issues and are available for private, in-home consultations, or hotline telephone support. Parents groups, baby clinics.

Technical Assistance Alliance for Parents

  • The Technical Assistance Alliance for Parent Centers is an innovative project that supports a unified technical assistance system for the purpose of developing, assisting and coordinating Parent Training and Information Projects and Community Parent Resource Centers under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Parent Coalitions and Information Groups

  • A comprehensive Parent Support Group List compiled by The Family Resource Center on Disabilities (FRCD).

Autism Society of Illinois presents: Special Education Advocacy

  • ASI Special Education advocates are experienced in working with schools and families to determine the best IEP outcomes based on the individual needs of the child.

Community Education at JCFS

  • Community education courses on a wide range of topics for adults who want to enhance their knowledge of issues that affect people with disabilities. Open to professionals, people with disabilities, and family members of people with disabilities.

TAP Service Center

  • Training opportunities include: new diagnosis family orientation, first responder training, early intervention training, care providers/day care training, and early detection training for pediatric residents.

Family Matters Parent training and Information Center

  • Supplies information and training for parents and professionals who provide special education and related services to children with disability.

Little Friends Center for Autism

  • Provides training for parents and professionals.



Places to Go / Recreation (Chicagoland)

     Indoor Play Areas

Little Beans Café (Evanston/Chicago)

  • Litttle Beans is a family cafe and imaginative indoor playground for kids.

Sod Room

  • Eco-friendly indoor play space in South Loop.


  • Indoor inflatable party and play centers with bouncers, jumpers, slides, moonwalks, and other interactive games.

Exploritorium (Skokie)

  • A place where children and adults can come and explore together through interactive play.

Monkey Island

  • Largest indoor playground in Chicago.

LegoLand Discovery Center 

  • Explore a world of LEGO adventures on our interactive rides,Build & Test Zones, 4D Cinema, Pirate Adventure Island and more.

Kid City

  • Family-owned indoor play space designed for children to explore the function of a city through pretend play.

Explore and Much More

  • A family-centered playspace for children ages 6 months to 8 years old, offering exhibits and play structures to encourage active minds and bodies.

Pump it UP (Elmhurst)

  • First Tuesday of each month is Sensory Jump Night at Pump it Up in Elmhurst.



     Movie Theaters

Sensory Friendly Films at AMC – Partner with Autism Society

  • Four shows per month – second and fourth Tuesday and Saturday; Turn the lights up, turn the sound down, and open for dancing, walking, shouting or singing.

Reel Movies for Real Needs - Marcus Theatre (Addison)

  • Reel Movies for Real Needs creates a welcoming and comfortable environment, with lower sound and lights up, where families with children who need accommodations will be able to share the experience of seeing family friendly films at a theatre. Showtime is at 10:30am, one Saturday each month.

SMG Special Needs Screenings - Studio Movie Grill ( Wheaton)

  • Family friendly movies free for children with special needs and their siblings, with adult tickets available for before-noon price. Special Needs Screenings are shown with the lights up and the volume lowered and children are free to move around, talk, or even dance in the aisles. 




Adams Playground Park – 1919 N. Seminary

  • ADA-accessible lot.

Berger Park Cultural Center – 6205 N. Sheridan Road

  • ADA-accessible playground.

Indian Boundary Park – 2500 W. Lunt

  • Small zoo and duck pond and natural-habitat gardens.

Oz Park – 2021 N. Burling St.

  • Wheelchair-accessible playground.

Kilbourn Park and Organic Greenhouse – 3501 N. Kilbourn Ave.

  • Public fruit-tree orchard.

Mt. Greenwood Park – 3724 W. 111th St.

  • ADA-accessible playground equipment (includes musical sculptures).

Maggie Daley Park – 337 E. Randolph St.

  • 3 acre play garden, life-sized play ship, up to 600 children can comfortably play at one time. All pathways meet or exceed ADA requirements.




Chicago Children’s Museum (Navy Pier)

  • Second Saturday of every month hosts Play for All program, which provides families with children with special needs a chance to visit museum early. Registration required (312) 321-6551.

Kohl Children’s Museum (2100 Patriot Boulevard, Glenview IL)

  • Designed to be inclusive to all children and adults regardless of ability. Works collaboratively with community organizations to invite children with special needs to the museum to explore exhibits while closed to the general public.

DuPage Children’s Museum (301 North Washington Street, Naperville)

  • Third Thursday of each month, hosts special hours (5-7 pm) for families with children with special needs (quieter, less crowded, range of adaptive tools and equipment, variety of sensory-based exhibits, therapy dog, resources for parents).




All Aboard Diner – Downers Grove, IL

  • Food delivered by train; ice-cream parlor, video games, interactive train. Peanut-free restaurant.

American Girl Place – Chicago, IL




Brookfield Zoo – 8400 31st Street, Brookfield IL 60513

  • Offers program to better serve children with disabilities – partnered with National Inclusion Project to rain Zoo Camp staff in inclusion techniques. Provides scholarships for children with disabilities.

Lincoln Park Zoo – 2001 N Clark Street, Chicago IL 60614

  • Parking lot, café, gift shops and main entrance are wheelchair accessible, service animals are allowed, tactile reference guide to enhance experience.



Parent Help Topics / Advice



Developmental Milestones

Play (Importance and How-to)

Transitions (to daycare, preschool, kindergarten)

Communicating with EC professionals

Understanding challenging behaviors

Tantrums and Defiant Behavior

Temperament Styles

Speech and Language

Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC)

Emotional Regulation

Social Skills


Gross Motor

Fine Motor