Special needs courses for parents

Several organisations run courses for parents of children with special needs. While what you learn might not always be revelatory, particularly if you are already fairly clued-up on the issues, they might be well worth it just for the possibility of making like-minded friends.

As one mum who took the National Autistic Society's EarlyBird course says: "I found it very informative and great to meet other parents and share strategies and techniques of dealing with certain things."

These are the courses we've found. If you'd like to comment on any of them, or know of other useful special needs courses, please let us know.


  • Ambitious about Autism run courses open to parents and carers as well as professionals.
  • The National Autistic Society run free EarlyBird and EarlyBird Plus courses for children with autism (in some areas the courses may be for children with other special needs). The classes combine information and advice about dealing with behavioural issues with home visits where video feedback is used to help parents with the things they're learning on the course
  • The National Autistic Society Family Programme Scotland run the ongoing Autism Seminars for Families series, providing information and advice for free on a range of issues including common toileting difficulties and managing anger
  • Parents Autism Workshops and Support run free courses aimed at parents of children aged 3-16 years with a clinical diagnosis of autism in order to explore the potential benefits of a pet dog


  • The Elizabeth Foundation offer a free home learning programme on helping deaf preschool children learn to listen and talk, consisting of 10 lessons for children aged under two and a half and 10 for children from two and half to school age

Down syndrome

  • The Down's Syndrome Association run a series of morning training sessions for parents and carers on supporting their children through early years and primary school, and also on social development and behaviour (£35 per session)



  • Care for the Family run free Time Out for Parents courses, where parents of children with special needs aged between three and 11 can share experiences and solutions
  • Funded by the Department of Health, the Council for Disabled Children's Expert Parent Programme supports parents to learn from each other's experiences in navigating and engaging with health services and aims to develop a modular training programme for parents and carers



Last updated: over 1 year ago