Support Groups for special needs in Arlington County

Arlington County Support Groups

Nova Special Education Resources thanks all those who provided permission to be listed here. Should anyone discover that information on this list is outdated, please contact me immediately .

The Arlington Special Education Parent Teacher Association (SEPTA) is a county wide PTA with parent liaisons publicly listed for every public school in Arlington. More information is available on the website at  Arlington Special Education PTA website.  SEPTA operates an email list to which parents can subscribe on the Arlington Special Education PTA membership webpage.  One of the major services offered by SEPTA are the special education parent liaisons.  The goal is to have at least one liaison at every school in Arlington. This is a program that is managed jointly with the Parent Resource Center.  A list of the liaison’s is available on the APS parent liaison webpage.

An Arlington Inclusion Task Force has been established which has been working on training programs and other initiatives and maintains an email list.  For additional information, contact Tauna Szymanski at

Autism Support

Parent volunteers maintain a list serve for Arlington parents of children with Aspergers and other Autism Spectrum Disorders known as the ASIS Yahoo Group.  This is a closed group (you must have permission to join). You can join online or send a message to  You may also contact Michelle Best at with other questions.

The Arlington Autism Group is a parent support group that also operates an email list. To join the list, contact Donna Budway at    Social mixers are held periodically for members.

Parents of Autistic Children of Northern Virginia is a chapter of the national POAC organization.  It operates a list serve and offers parents support meetings (check their website for details). While the focus of educational information is on Fairfax County, the list serve is an excellent resource for information exchange and referrals to specialists. The website is particularly helpful for learning about free training events related to autism spectrum disorders.  To sign up for the email list you must join as a member, which you can do at

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD or ADD) Support

The ADHD Parent Support Network meets regularly and is coordinated by the Parent Resource Center.  For more information contact Kathleen Donovan at or at 703-228-2135.

An AD/HD Yahoo Group for Arlington parents of children with ADD or AD/HD was founded by Arlington parent (now School Board member) Nancy Van Doren.  To join the list you can join online or send an email to

CHADD of Northern Virginia (CHADD-NOVA) is a chapter of the national CHADD organization (Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder ). CHADD-NOVA holds periodic meetings with presentations from professionals in the region and also keeps a calendar for support group meetings.  For more information see  the CHADD list of events or contact Nadine Asef-Sargent at (an Arlington parent who actively volunteers for CHADD-NOVA).

Arlington Reading

A number of efforts have been undertaken by parents in recent years to improve reading intervention in Arlington Public Schools.  An Arlington Reading Yahoo Group was established by parents.  This is a restricted group. You can join online or send an email to subscribe to

A parent support group associated with Decoding Dyslexia is run by an Arlington parent.  A local family has also established a student support group and has a website .

Mental Health Support

The National Alliance on Mental Illness-Northern Virginia (NAMI Northern Virginia) is a chapter of the national NAMI organization which has a mission to serve both adults and children with mental health needs.  NAMI Northern Virginia has a website, operates an email list and offers parent support meetings. To subscribe to the NAMI Northern Virginia email list, send an email to requesting to be added to the list.

NAMI Northern Virginia has a Help Line which is answered by local volunteers each afternoon during the week.  The number is (703) 968-4007. Messages left on voice mail are generally returned within 24 hours. The national organization also has a help line that is open from 10-6 (ET) Monday through Friday. For those in crisis, the 24-hour toll free and confidential National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255.

The following NAMI Northern Virginia support groups are for family members with a focus on parents and caregivers of children under 18.  Please check the NAMI Northern Virginia Family Programs website page for updates and for information about classes like “Family-to-Family” and “Basics” (for parents and caregivers of youth).

NAMI Northern Virginia’s Arlington Family Support Group meets on the second and fourth Sundays of each month at Cherrydale Baptist Church, 3910 Lorcom Lane, Arlington, Virginia 22207 (Room 118, lower level).  Contact Michelle Best ( or Alisa Cowen ( or 703-243-2205) for additional information.  To be added to the email list associated with this group–which contains a wealth of current updates–contact Naomi Verdugo at .

NAMI Northern Virginia also offers free Youth Fests throughout the year.  These provide an opportunity for teens, young adults, children and families to come together for fun, while also providing an opportunity for sharing, support and learning about local resources.  Subscribe to the NAMI Northern Virginia email list at to receive event and program announcements.  (Last year’s Summer Fest brought teens and young adults together around a campfire to enjoy s’mores, conversation, and acoustic guitar played by a young adult, while parents attended a mini-support group nearby; children and families were free to explore the farm.)

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has a website with science-based information on mental health designed to educate the public on mental health issues.

Down Syndrome Support

The Down Syndrome Association of Northern Virginia operates a list serve and has an extensive website. Visit the Down Syndrome Association of Northern Virginia  or contact Heather Trammel at or 703-621-7129 for additional information.  To subscribe to the email list send a message to