Umbrella Programs

Community Outreach and Engagement

As a part of its mission, SNN is dedicated to raising awareness of the impact of autism on underserved communities amongst policy, business and community leaders in order to increase available research dollars, programs, familial support, diagnostic and intervention services, employment and housing opportunities for those living with the disorder and other developmental, emotional and behavioral disabilities. SNN’s president and staff participate in community workshops, conferences, town hall meetings, media alerts and tours and other forums in order to educate individuals, businesses and groups about the needs of underserved families. SNN also provides speaking and consultative services to professional, non-profit, community and governmental groups. This form of community engagement is vital to creating acceptance of individuals with disabilities and insuring that individuals in underserved communities have a voice as policies are being made and resources allocated.

Parent Training and Advocacy Program (P-Tap)

P-Tap is a comprehensive program that identifies underserved families of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and other developmental disabilities and provides them with training, legal and technical assistance, skills development and networking that enables them to obtain resources and assist their children to obtain necessary life skills for a successful level of independence as adults. This umbrella program provides parents, educators and stakeholders comprehensive training in advocacy, family supportive services and interventions strategies for adults and children with autism spectrum disorder and other developmental disorders. The current program consists of a one-day conference and a series of workshops held through out the year at various sites in Los Angeles County and neighboring communities. At all events, parents are provided with transportation stipends, free meals and free childcare.

Advocacy and Leadership Training Series

The Advocacy and Leadership Training Series is a collaborative program between SNN and the Legislative Black Caucus Foundation, Inc. Through this program, grassroots community leaders, parents of children with disabilities and health activists are provided technical leadership training. This multi-week program is lead by experienced parents, consultants, professionals and focuses on community organizing, fund raising, public speaking and systems/policy advocacy. Participants have an opportunity to develop strategies to impact health, education and other related legislation at the local, state and federal level. Participants are trained on how to serve as non-profit board members, local and state commissioners, organizational leaders and community leaders. The course culminates with a field trip to the State Capitol in Sacramento where participants are provided an opportunity to meet with key legislators and policy makers.

Signature Programs

Community Connections: A Back-to-School Event

This program unites special needs families with families of typically-developing children, vested community partners and local civic leaders for a day of education, information and rejuvenation. SNN provides free backpacks and other school supplies to hundreds of children ages 3-18 years of age. Resource booths keep families updated on available services in the community; and therapists trained in encouraging inclusive play facilitate specially designed games for the children. Activities are geared to facilitate social interaction, language development and acquisition of new skills. This event includes a massive health fair with free dental and medical screenings for children and health seminars for adults.

State of the State: Legislative Breakfast

Every year, SNN sponsors a legislature breakfast in which it brings together national and local elected officials to provide parents and stakeholders the latest information on pending and proposed legislature that impacts the disability community. Participants are provided an opportunity to meet face-to-face with those leaders who are shaping policies which impact them, their loved ones and their communities. After a series of presentations, participants are given an opportunity to ask questions and to provide comments. This event provides an opportunity to engage their elected officials and to influence legislative decisions that impact their communities. Participants are given training on how to organize letter writing campaigns, how to present at public hearings and how to initiate legislation.

Tools for Transformation

This conference brings together top experts from around the nation to provide information and workshops on topics ranging from advocacy to employment opportunities for parents of disabled children. The conference begins with a breakfast and offers nine interactive workshops facilitated by experienced professionals. Participants are given handouts, brochures and other pertinent information. The conference includes a massive resource fair where participants can meet service providers, authors, doctors, therapists, advocates and other professionals who work in the disability community. This one of a kind conference is free and open to the public. All day free childcare is provided along with transportation stipends to allow maximum parent participation.

Parent Care Speakers Series

Through a series of small group/interactive workshops, parents and stakeholders are provided with information on how to address issues of accessing services, utilizing private insurance coverage, dealing with transitions from elementary to secondary school and beyond, finding affordable housing, and much much more. These workshops are facilitated by trained professionals and parent representatives. The workshops provide networking opportunities for parents as well as play a key role in providing emotional support for caregivers.

Joe Patton Advanced Learning Academy (JPALA)

This program is geared for students ages 3 to 22. Those students under 14 years old are provided an opportunity to participate in developmentally appropriate learning labs for art, music, dance, sports and cooking. For students age 14 to 22, the focus is on entrepreneurial and life skills training. Students learn how to develop ideals into money-making ventures, how to budget their income, how to seek and obtain employment and other valuable life skills.

Parent and Advocacy and Mentor Program (PAM)

PAM is a six-session, 18 hour intensive program designed for parents, caregivers and professionals who work with special needs children who want to become parent mentors, advocates and leaders in their communities. Participants will learn the early identification signs, how to counsel parents through the stages of grief, how to identify and access services, how to participate in public and governmental meetings and how to mentor other parents. Upon completion of the program, parents will be certified as mentors.


This unique summer camp provides children ages three to16 with disabilities and their typical peers with a safe and nurturing environment in which to grow and experience. Campers will participate in language-rich programs including dance, movement, computers, cooking, arts and crafts, soccer and other activities. Participants will visit local attractions, enjoy a delicious lunch and have lots of fun as they increase their social skills and language.

Advocacy In Action

The Advocacy in Action program focuses on providing leadership and advocacy training to small non-profit leaders working on issues of health disparities associated with mental health services, foster care/transition services and youth services. Participants are provided an opportunity to meet with legislators, develop advocacy agenda for their organizations and to learn how to secure funding for advocacy projects.

Treasure Chest of Tools

This unique parent manual and children’s activity guide provides parents with pertinent information on how to identify developmental milestones, how to select a doctor for an evaluation, how to find trained professionals, how to access services from regional centers and school districts, how to work with others in your community to build relationships for support and how to engage in community advocacy. The children’s section provides hands-on games and activities that can be used on the go to help keep children with autism and related disabilities engaged. Written by Special Needs Network’s team of experts, this is a must have guide for families, caregivers and professionals.