Groups and Therapies

Social Skills

Social Skills groups are therapist-led gatherings that focus on teaching children a variety of social skills to help improve their ability to make and keep friends, develop more self-confidence, and behave appropriately. These groups are a great way for your child to learn basic social skills, like sharing, turn taking, friendship skills, understanding feelings, interacting with other children, etc. Role-plays and group interaction will give your child opportunities to practice these skills during group sessions. The therapist will help the children practice and repeat a desired behavior, offering plenty of praise and encouragement, reinforcing that behavior. Social Skills groups promote rule compliance, participation, and use of appropriate social skills, while also encouraging children to practice these skills outside of the session. The first step to find a social skills group for your child is to talk to your healthcare team to identify research-based programs.
To find Social Skills Groups in your area:

Physical, Occupational, Speech and Language Therapies

Therapies are essential in the development of life skills for a number of conditions. If you and your child’s doctor decide that your child will benefit from therapy, you will likely be referred for an evaluation in order to decide the types of therapy in which your child may participate. Your child may work with pediatric specialists licensed in a variety of different types of therapies, such as physical, occupational, speech & language, or audiology. Depending on your child’s needs, they may work with multiple therapists.
Physical Therapy

"Physical therapists focus on gross motor skills and functional mobility, including positioning; sitting; transitional movement such as sitting to standing; walking with or without assistive devices (such as walkers, crutches) and orthoses (braces) or prostheses (artificial limbs); wheelchair propulsion; transfers between the wheelchair and other surfaces such as a desk chair, toilet, or bath; negotiation of stairs, ramps, curbs, and elevators; and problem-solving skills for accessibility of public buildings." [Michaud: 2004]
Physical therapists can often help children with birth injuries, developmental delays, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, torticollis, spina bifida, sports injuries, and other conditions.
Occupational Therapy

"Occupational therapists focus on fine motor, visual-motor, and sensory processing skills needed for basic activities of daily living." This might include help feeding or dressing themselves, improving their handwriting, going to the bathroom independently, and many other age appropriate skills." [Michaud: 2004]
Speech Therapy

Speech therapy focuses on receptive language, or the ability to understand words spoken to you, and expressive language, or the ability to use words to express yourself. It also deals with the mechanics of producing words, such as articulation, pitch, fluency, and volume. For children, it generally involves pursuing milestones that have been delayed. Some children only need help with language, others may have problems with the mechanics of speech, and some may need help with both.

Pediatric Audiology provides hearing diagnostic and rehabilitation services to infants and children having a wide range of hearing disorders. The audiologist can refer to resources that are helpful for children with hearing impairment.
Talk with your child's healthcare team about recommendations for local therapy services, Contact your insurance provider to see what therapy services may be covered, and which providers are in your network.
To find the Early Intervention Part C Program in your community:
  • Ask your child’s health care team to put you in touch with the Early Intervention (EI) program in your community or region
  • Contact the Pediatrics branch in a local hospital and ask where you should call to find out about EI programs in your area
  • See links in the Resources section below for further information regarding EI programs in your community

Support Groups or Playgroups

Children with special needs benefit from playgroups, just like any other child. Playgroups are a great way for children to interact with other kids and build social skills while having fun. They are also a good opportunity for you to spend time with other parents and caregivers that understand parenting a child with special needs.
There are many playgroups for children with special needs; the trick is finding them. A good way to begin your search is to ask your child’s healthcare team, Early Intervention specialist, or therapist for recommendations about established playgroups in the area. You can also talk to other parents of children with special needs; they are some of the best resources for this type of information.
Some playgroups or support groups are organized around a specific disability or diagnosis; others might serve parents and children with a variety of conditions or disabilities. If you join a parent-run play group, you’ll want to stay with your child until you get the feel for the group and are able to determine if the other parents in the group are able and willing to provide the care and support that your child may need when you are away. Support groups for parents may meet with or without children, and sometimes have childcare or activities for the kids, but you’ll want to check on the specifics of a group before attending.
If you are unable to find an appropriate playgroup for your child, you could start your own area playgroup. Post a message with a forum or group dedicated to parenting children with special needs, or at your child’s therapist’s office or clinic. Include a suggested age range and any other specifics about the children that will be in the playgroup. Another option is to join a playgroup that is not specifically designed for special needs children. A search of the internet should result in resources to contact in your area. Many playgroups will welcome children with special needs, regardless of whether or not they were designed for that purpose. Typically-developing children can benefit greatly from learning to interact at an early age with children with special needs, and your child will make new friends while you enjoy the company of other parents.


Information & Support

For Parents and Patients

Rhode Island Home-Based Therapeutic Services (HBTS) (PDF Document 291 KB)
Home-Based Therapeutic Services (HBTS) Fact Sheet explains Rhode Island's medically necessary, intensive services that can help families of children with moderate to severe behavioral health, developmental or physical disabilities. Medicaid program, up to age 21.

Pediatric Rehabilitation Services - Intermountain Healthcare
This page provides a list of pediatric rehabilitation conditions that Intermountain Healthcare doctors and therapists treat.

RiteCare Scottish Rite Childhood Language Program
The RiteCare of Utah Scottish Rite Childhood Language Program offers speech therapy for children 2 - 12 years at no cost if the child qualifies. Locations throughout the United States.

National Center for Family - Professional Partnerships (F2F HICs)
Family-to-Family Health Information Centers (F2F HICs) are nonprofit, family-staffed organizations that assist families of children and youth with special health care needs. State-based F2Fs provide support, information, resources, and training around health care funding. Staff is uniquely able to help with firsthand experience navigating the maze of health care services and programs.

Center for Parent Information & Resources Locator
Parent Centers are for families with a child who has a disability, as well as the professionals who work with them.

State Part C Early Intervention Coordinators
Lists state contacts for Early Intervention (Part C) agencies offered by the National Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (ECTA Center).



See all Audiology services providers (13) in our database.

Early Intervention for Children with Disabilities/Delays

See all Early Intervention for Children with Disabilities/Delays services providers (12) in our database.

Local Support Groups, Disability/Diag

See all Local Support Groups, Disability/Diag services providers (10) in our database.

National Support Services, Disab/Diag

We currently have no National Support Services, Disab/Diag service providers listed; search our Services database for related services.

Occupational Therapy, Pediatric

See all Occupational Therapy, Pediatric services providers (6) in our database.

Physical Therapy

See all Physical Therapy services providers (3) in our database.

Social Skills Training

See all Social Skills Training services providers (10) in our database.

Speech - Language Pathologists

See all Speech - Language Pathologists services providers (17) in our database.

For other services related to this condition, browse our Services categories or search our database.

Authors & Reviewers

Initial Publication: October 2013; Last Update: November 2013
Current Authors and Reviewers (click on name for bio):
Author: Gina Pola-Money
Contributing Authors: Alfred N. Romeo, RN, PhD
Shena McAuliffe, MFA
Tina Persels

Page Bibliography

Michaud LJ.
Prescribing therapy services for children with motor disabilities.
Pediatrics. 2004;113(6):1836-8. PubMed abstract / Full Text
Overview of physical, occupational, and speech-language therapies and the pediatricians role in prescribing those therapies.