Finding Resources: Helpful links to Washington based organizations focused on assisting families who have children with special needs. Read more…
Summer Camp Directory: Find summer camps and programs for children with special health needs in Washington State by condition, region, month …read more.
Inclusive Playgrounds and Parks: Use our interactive map to find an accessible playground near you! Each listing provides detailed information… read more.
Dental Care Tips: Learn about children with special needs’ unique oral health issues, tips for a healthy mouth, and how to find and prepare for a dental visit. Read more…
Emergency Preparedness: How to plan, pack and what to consider in case of an emergency. Read more…
Resource Directory: Use our directory to find Washington state resources in your area, by county, to help you in caring for your child’s needs. Read more…
Safety Tips: Find information and tips for a variety of different diagnoses and situations such as car safety, water safety, fire safety, and playground safety. Read more…
Recreation and Sports: Recreation opportunities and resources for your family and child with special needs. Read more…
Air Travel Preparation: Travel tips from parents, TSA information, disease-specific resources and medical forms for traveling with your child. Read more…
Special Needs Childcare: Find resources about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and special needs childcare for professionals and families. Read more…
Mental Health Conditions in Children and Teens: resources, information on organizations and advice about mental health conditions in children and teens. Read more…
Seattle Children’s Center for Children with Special Needs is an information source for families and professionals. We provide information and resources, program evaluation and needs assessment, health education and training. Find out more about us.
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Learn About Mental Treatment and Providers
It is very important to find the right mental health provider for your child’s condition and behaviors. Not all therapists treat all conditions. Some conditions respond well to specific types of treatments and parent training. Not all therapists are trained in these treatments and parent training. Read “Choosing a Mental Health Provider” for guidelines on what kinds of providers and treatments to look for.
My child has Apple Health coverage or Medicaid
We have private insurance
If you have private insurance contact your insurance provider for a list of mental health therapists. Know that it may take many phone calls and time to get in to see someone.
Use a search engine to find a mental health or substance abuse treatment provider:
It is important to ask a lot of questions of a potential provider to make sure they have experience treating children and teens with your child’s diagnosis. The Parent Guide to Getting Good Care covers what to look for in a diagnosis, who can provide treatment, questions to ask before beginning treatment, dealing with more than one diagnosis, learning issues and how to get school services.
• National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255 (TTY 1-800-799-4889) . The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones.
• Crisis Text Line: Help is available 24 hours a day throughout the US by texting START to 741741 . The person texting is connected live with a Crisis Counselor, trained to bring people from a crisis moment to a calmer state through active listening and collaborative problem solving.
• Teen Link: anonymous help phone line for teens. 866-833-6546 Evenings, 6:00pm- 10:00pm (866TeenLink.org). From: dshs.wa.gov/bha/division-behavioral-health-and-recovery/childrens-behavioral-health
• TXT 4 HELP Interactive: Created by National Safe Place. Allows youth to text live with a mental health professional.
Finding Local Mental Health Programs
• Washington Recovery Help Line 1-866-789-1511 or warecoveryhelpline.org. 24-hour emotional support and referrals for substance abuse, problem gambling and mental health.
• Substance Abuse Hotline: 1-800-662-4357. Free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.
• Washington Recovery Help Line: 1-866-789-1511 or warecoveryhelpline.org. For substance abuse, mental health and gambling- 24-hour emotional support and referrals.
For more information visit “Find Help in a Crisis” from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).
Early identification and treatment can help your teen get the help and information they need. Share this youth questionnaire with your teen if they have concerns about their emotions, attention or behaviors. You can take the parent screening questionnaire to help identify if your child is at risk for emotional, attention or behavior difficulties and if you should seek an evaluation with a mental health professional.
You may also use the symptom checker to check behaviors and signs you are concerned about. The Symptom Checker will give you a list of possible mental health or learning disorders that align with those symptoms. (This is not a diagnostic tool, but a guide to help you take the next step).
When to seek help
It can be hard to decide when and if you should get your child evaluated. How do you know if it is a serious concern or typical development? When is it time to reach out for help? Read “Does my Child have an Emotional or Behavior Disorder” for tips on when to know your child and family may need help and where to start.
You can also use this checklist from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry of signs for younger children, pre-teens and teens to see if your child may need to be evaluated by a professional.
Early identification and treatment can help your teen get the help and information they need. Share this youth questionnaire with your teen if they have concerns about their emotions, attention or behaviors. Take the parent screening questionnaire to help you identify if your child is at risk for emotional, attention or behavior difficulties and if you should seek an evaluation with a mental health professional.
Find information on different mental health conditions that children and teens face. These resources include information on symptoms, treatment and getting diagnosed.
Anxiety Disorders (Spanish version)
Bi-Polar Disorder (Spanish version)
Borderline Personality Disorders
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (Spanish version)
Depression and Mood Disorders
Schizophrenia and Psychosis
These websites have in-depth information on mental health conditions as well as ideas for how to deal with challenges and manage day to day with your child. They include resources for school, helping family members understand your child’s diagnosis and strategies to use at home.
AACAP: The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Child Mind: Child Mind Institute
NAMI Washington: National Alliance on Mental Health
Children’s Mental Health / Behavioral Disorders Program: from PACER (Parent Information and Information Center) includes helpful experience based tips from parents and teens.
Anxiety BC and Anxiety BC Youth: online, self-help, and evidence-based resources on anxiety and anxiety disorders.
Many parents feel alone and isolated in this experience with their child. Dealing with a mental health condition and behaviors takes time, is stressful and can have an impact on your health and well-being. Know that there are many parents who have gone through similar challenges. Here are some tips from other parents who have faced similar experiences:
Visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness -Washington (NAMI) for support and information.
Connect with other parents. Having a child with a mental illness can be isolating. Connecting with other parents who can relate and understand what you are going through may help you feel better. Other parents may share tips for coping and ideas on finding services and therapists. Hearing other parents’ stories can bring you relief. It can be helpful to know that you are not the only family that has experienced what you have gone through. A great way to do this is through a support group or information classes for parents of children and youth with mental health conditions. Visit the Washington State National Alliance on Mental Illness to find a group near you.
Take a class. The NAMI Basics class is for parents and other family caregivers of children and adolescents who have either been diagnosed with a mental health condition or who are experiencing symptoms but have not yet been diagnosed. Visit: www.nami.org to find a class near you.
Don’t give up hope. This can be a very difficult journey and it can take time to find the right treatment and services, but other parents say that it won’t last forever.
Take care of yourself. Caring for a child with a mental health condition, going to therapy and following treatment plans takes time and energy. Find ways to take care of yourself when and where you can. Read these tips from NAMI for taking care of yourself.
What to Do if You Notice Symptoms
If you see symptoms or have concerns about your child or teen, you may want to schedule an appointment for an evaluation with a licensed psychiatrist or psychologist. If you can’t do that, then meet with your child’s doctor. It will be important and helpful for you to provide them as much detailed information about your concerns as you can.
What if I can’t get an appointment with a psychiatrist or psychologist for some time?
Share information about the Washington State PAL: Partnership Access Line (PAL) with your child’s primary care provider. PAL is a telephone-based child mental health consultation system for any primary care provider in Washington. Toll-Free: 866-599-7257.When they call PAL, they will receive: