When my family and I moved to New York City a few years ago, we were excited about living in a place that had so many opportunities for our son with special needs. But after we finally figured out the school situation and a couple of extracurricular activities, we wondered what our next steps would be (aside from a much-needed vacation). Redoing evaluations; finding medical, therapeutic and respite services; attending workshops; planning for future residential or job placement—it was all completely overwhelming.
That's when someone recommended we reach out to the YAI Network, an organization serving people with disabilities and their loved ones. YAI has provided a one-stop-shopping experience of quality special needs information and assistance, saving us effort and oh so precious time. The staff was even able to provide the psychological evaluations necessary for our son to be deemed eligible for certain therapies and services—evaluations that would have cost us a fortune out-of-pocket otherwise. And they did it all with a smile and a sincere, caring attitude that is hard to find these days.
With four kids in total at home, we haven’t been able to take advantage of all that YAI has to offer (yet). But here are just a few of the unique events, services and resources YAI provides to the NYC special needs community and their families.
YAI offers evaluations, therapy and a full range of primary and specialty health care services for the disabled community under one roof. There are currently openings for medical services in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx. For new referrals, services or information, contact YAI LINK at 1-866-2-YAI-LINK, TDD: 212-290-2787.
Additionally, families living in Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn who need evaluations to access OPWDD services but don't have insurance that will cover them can contact YAI LINK at 212-273-6182.
Other Services and Programs
YAI provides limited funds to families for services and goods that are not reimbursed through other programs or funding streams for Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens residents.
Family Support Series (geared toward caregivers of those on the autism spectrum)
Upcoming programs (free of charge) include topics like Understanding Psychological Evaluations, Raising Salad-Eating Children, Autism and Sex, How to Talk to Family and Friends About Your Child’s Autism Diagnosis, and even Yoga For Relaxation.
Independent Living Program
A six-month classroom course for Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan residents to develop independent living skills.
Parents with Special Needs
A program for parents with developmental disabilities who live with their children in Manhattan, Brooklyn or Queens.
In addition, there are services such as travel training, residential placement, recreation and social skills programs, overnight, holiday and in-home respite, behavior management and after-school groups.
For more information about YAI, please call 1-866-2-YAI-LINK or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. If nobody answers when you call, you can leave a message and a specialist will actually get back to you. Or visit YAI.org.
Read about other great special needs resources for families in our NYC Special Needs Guide.