Enjoy! And feel free to share other great free things for kids with special needs in the comments.
Free lifetime pass to national parks, wildlife refuges and national forests
This is a free pass to more than 2000 recreation sites for U.S. citizens or permanent residents of any age who have a permanent disability; they can be accompanied by three fellow passengers in the car. Admission isn't always free—it may just be discounted—so check the site you're planning to visit. The application is here; there's a $10 processing fee plus documentation is required.
Free iPads, apps and speech therapy
Small Steps in Speech funds supplemental treatments and therapies not covered by insurance for children with language and speech disorder, along with grants to purchase communication devices.
Danny's Wish provides iPads to kids with autism.
The itaalk Autism Foundation has an App Facilitator Program that provides kids with disabilities of all kinds with up to $250 in free apps per calendar year.
Free wheelchairs and bikes
Wheelchairs 4 Kids provides wheelchairs to children, and can also assist with ramps, wheelchair lifts and home modifications.
Variety-The Children's Charity gifts manual and powered wheelchairs to children along with adaptive bikes, along with walkers and other gait assistance gear, through local chapters—find yours here.
Free customized songs
The non-profit Songs of Love Foundation creates custom songs for kids and teens facing medical, physical and emotional challenges. They'll create professionally-produced lyrics featuring the child's name and references his or her favorite stuff, with a performer singing it.
Free photo shoot
Families of kids with special needs who are stretched thin with medical or therapy bills may apply for a Smiles for Katie Family Photo Grant, through Special Kids Photography of America (SKPA) to receive a free photo shoot and 8 x 10 photo. The grant is named after a four-year-old with Down syndrome, Katie, who passed away while on vacation with her family. You can apply for the grant only if work with an SKPA photographer. Details and the application are here.
The National Library Service for the Blind & Physically Handicapped offers free braille and audio materials—via postage-free mail—to people who have visual or physical impairments that prevent them from reading or using standard print materials. They also have musical scores in braille and large print.
Free plane trip rehearsals
The Arc's Wings for Autism—a national program—allows individuals with autism (along with their families) to "rehearse" a plane flight, complete with obtaining boarding passes, going through security and boarding a plane. Find upcoming program locations here.
GRANTS AND FUNDING PROGRAMS FOR KIDS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS
Building Blocks for Kids: This nonprofit bridges the funding gap for products and services for children with physical, emotional and developmental challenges and helps pay for therapies, home modifications, hearing aids and wheelchairs.
Different Needz Foundation: Awards annual grants to individuals with developmental disabilities.
First Hand Foundation: Provides grants that cover assistive technology and other equipment, treatment, vehicle modifications and displacement expenses for families of kids who have to travel during treatment.
Hannah's Helping Hands: Offers quality of life and summer camp grants for families that care for children and adults with special needs in Florida, Indiana, Rhode Island, New Jersey and New York.
UnitedHealthcare Children's Foundation: Offers grants for kids 16 years old or younger who are already covered by a commercial health plan and require medical services/items that go above and beyond the coverage offered.
GRANT PROGRAMS FOR KIDS WITH AUTISM
ACT Today! Has a grant program for assessments, treatments and life support for children with autism, plus an Act Today! SOS grant for immediate and imperative needs.
DREAM FULFILLMENT PROGRAMS FOR KIDS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS
While amazing organizations like Make-A-Wish America, Kids Wish Network and Children's Wish Foundation International exist to fulfill dreams of children with terminal and life-threatening illness, there are nonprofits that also grant wishes for children with disabilities, chronic illness or physical challenges including Dream Factory and Sunshine Foundation
There's also Give Kids The World, an 84-acre park in Central Florida that provides free week-long vacation to kids with critical illnesses and their families. Applications are only accepted through wish-granting foundations, and the site offers a comprehensive list here.
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