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NEW YORK (PIX11) — When you have a child with special needs, knowing exactly what to do in the beginning can be daunting. The ADAPT Community Network launched a new website called ‘Start Here,’ to try and help make things easier for parents and caregivers.  

The name says it all. ‘Start Here’ is a launching pad to help guide parents and caregivers through everything they need for their child with special needs.  

“We talked with so many parents of kids that said ‘boy, I wish I had some guidance’”, said ED Matthew, the CEO of ADAPT.  

“We thought you know if we put together … a website that said ‘Start Here‘ … at least for parents, they would be able to understand the questions they need to ask, the people they need in their lives and without being specific to New York region or section of the country,” said Matthews, adding “that in general these are the people you need, these are the questions you need to ask through the first few years of life.” 

The website is designed to be a one-stop-shop resource center giving guidance on what to do starting from “day one.”  

It includes everything from information to help educate parents about specific disorders and disabilities, to how parents should navigate those first visits to the doctor.  

“We think that parents should have a way of gaining some knowledge right away and knowing the people in their lives that they’re really going to need through the course of the first few years,” explained Matthews, “to be able to negotiate the various systems that they are going to have to find… whether they be medical, educational or anything else they need to best help their child and themselves.”  

One of the other things ‘Start Here’ focuses on is giving parents tips on how to speak up for their child.  

“Parents have to learn to be their own advocate. The education system, the medical system, they’re all pretty huge right?” explained Matthews, “Children with autism may be seen as all the same, children with cerebral palsy may be seen as all the same, and your child is an individual. That person’s advocate has to be you, the parent, or you, the caregiver, to start out with.” 

Matthews says the goal for the site is to continue to grow, adding more content to help kids and their families.  

“The world has changed for them,” said Matthews, “and we’re trying to make sure… that we get people all the information to take advantage of those changes so that the whole idea is that every kid can be part of society and not isolated and we want to start here, literally with that.” 

Click here to visit the ‘Start Here’ website and learn more about everything the offer parents and caregivers.