Special Needs

Special Needs Adoption

What Does Special Needs Adoption Mean?

  • Definitions
  • Eligibility
  • Making the decision
  • Getting started
  • Financial and health-care assistance
  • Postadoption services

Common Mental, Physical, Emotional Disabilities

Abuse and Neglect

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What is Child Abuse and Neglect

  1. How is Abuse and Neglect Defined by Law?
  2. Recognizing the Signs of Abuse and Neglect
  3. The Impact of Childhood Trauma on Wellbeing

Understanding the Effects of Maltreatment on Brain Development

  1. How the Brain Develops
  2. Effects of Maltreatment on Brain Development
  3. Implications for Practice and Policy
  4. Effects of Maltreatment on Brain Development Summary and Resources

Long-Term Consequences of Child Abuse and Neglect

  1. Factors Affecting the Consequences of Child Abuse and Neglect
  2. Psychological Consequences
  3. Behavioral Consequences
  4. Societal Consequences
  5. Summary and Resources

Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect

  1. Prevention Strategies and Protective Factors

Child Maltreatment: Past, Present, Future

  1. Scope of the Problem
  2. Promising Prevention Strategies
  3. Looking Toward the Future
  4. Conclusion and References

Attention Deficit Disorder or Attention Deficit Activity Disorder (or "ADD or ADHD"):

  • What is ADHD (ADD)
  • What are the Symptoms of ADHD
  • Does My Child Have ADHD
  • What Can I Do if I Think My Child Has ADHD

This term describes a lifelong developmental disability that can first be detected in infancy, early childhood or even in adolescence, and which involves challenges with attention span, impulse control, and the intensity level of activities at school, home or at work. For more information, see Attention Deficit Hyper Activity Disorder page.



1. Building attachment with an adopted child

2. Attachment: What Works

This process begins in early infancy as the child bonds with one or more primary caregivers. Severe cases can fit within the definition of a more permanent condition known as "reactive attachment disorder.” For more information, see Attachment page.


  • What is Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • What are Some Signs of ASD
  • What Can I Do if I Think My Child Has ASD

Autism is a developmental brain disorder with physical and behavioral components. It affects the brain areas controlling language, social interaction, and abstract thought. For more information, see Autism page.

Bipolar Disorder:


1. What is Bipolar Disorder

2. Causes

3. Signs and Symptoms

4. Who is at Risk?

5. Diagnosis

6. Treatments

7. Living With

8. Clinical Trials

This term is used to describe a form of mental illnesses in which moods and reactions are affect, and which is characterized by irregular cycles of mania and/or depression. For more information, start with the What is Bipolar Disorder page.

Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD):

This term describes a condition in which the affected individual, whose hearing capabilities are otherwise functionally sound, will have difficulty understanding and processing information that is heard. For more information, see Central Auditory Processing Disorder page.

Cerebral Palsy (CP):


This a very broad umbrella term that is used to describe a group of chronic, non-hereditary condition of varying severity that are believed to be the result of faulty development of, or damage to, the motor areas in the brain, which then causes a disruption in the brain's ability to control muscular movement and posture. For more information, see Cerebral Palsy page.

Developmental Disability:

  • Facts
  • Developmental Milestones
  • Concerns
  • Monitoring and Screening for Disability
  • Causes and Risk Factors
  • Who is Affected
  • Living With a Developmental Disability

This term refers to a severe and chronic impairment, which can be attributed to one or more mental or physical impairments which will require specific and lifelong or extended care that is individually planned and coordinated, and which had an onset before age 22, and which is likely to continue indefinitely. For more information, see Developmental Disability page.

Down Syndrome:


A genetic disorder that is caused by the presence of an extra chromosome, which results in varying degrees of physical and mental abnormality. For more information, see Down Syndrome page.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders:


This term refers to certain birth defects, and serious, life-long mental and emotional impairments that may be suffered by a child as the result of heavy alcohol consumption by its mother during pregnancy. For more information, see Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders page.

Learning Disabilities (LD):


1. What are Learning Disabilities?

2. Causes

3. Symptoms

4. Who's at Risk?

5. Diagnosis

6. Treatments

7. Is There a Cure?

8. Other Facts

One or more impairments that a child may have in such areas as reading, mathematics and/or written expression skills, which interfere with the expected academic performance of the child in school, or in other daily activities that require those skills. For more information, see the Learning Disabilities: What are Learning Disabilities? page.

Mental Retardation or Intellectual Disability:

  • What is intellectual disability?
  • What are some signs of intellectual disability?
  • What can I do if I think my child may have intellectual disability?

Impaired or incomplete mental development characterized by an IQ of 70 or below and characterized by significant functional limitations in at least two of the following skills: communication, self-care, home living, social/interpersonal skills, use of community resources, self-direction, functional academic skills, work, leisure, health, and safety. For more information, see Mental Retardation page.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder:


1. What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

2. Causes

3. Signs and Symptoms

4. Who is at Risk?

5. Diagnosis

6. Treatments

7. Living With

8. Clinical Trials

A condition in which victims of overwhelming and uncontrollable experiences are subsequently psychologically affected by feelings of intense fear, loss of safety, loss of control, helplessness, and extreme vulnerability and in children the disorder involves disorganized or agitated behavior. For more information, see Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder page.

Reactive Attachment Disorder (or RAD):

  • Signs of RAD
  • Services that may be beneficial

This term is used to describe a condition that generally appears in children before age five, and is thought to result from a lack of consistent care and nurturing in early years. For more information, see Reactive Attachment Disorder page.

Sexual Abuse:


Parenting a Child Who Has Been Sexually Abused

1. Educating Yourself

2. Establishing Family Guidelines for Safety and Privacy

3. Seeking Help

Indicators and behaviors which suggest that a child may have been sexually abused, including: excessive masturbation, sexual interaction with peers, sexual aggression towards younger and more naive children, seductive behavior, and promiscuity. For more information, see Sexual Abuse page.

Social Disorders


Speech and Language Disorders:

  • How Do Speech and Language Develop
  • What Are the Milestones for Speech and Language Development
  • What is the Difference Between a Speech and Language Disorder
  • What Should I Do if My Child’s Speech or Language Appears to be Delayed
  • What Research is Being Conducted
  • What Are Voice, Speech, and Language
  • Your Child’s Hearing and Communicative Development Checklist

Impairments of speech or receptive language. For more information, see Speech and Language Disorders page.

Tourette's Syndrome:


1. What is Tourette’s Syndrome?

2. Diagnosis

3. Treatments

4. Other Concerns and Conditions

5. Risk Factors and Causes

A treatable neurological disorder that consists of involuntary "tic" movements or vocalizations that become more apparent under stress. For more information, see What is Tourette’s Syndrome? page.

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