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Last updated: August 10, 2021 • Education Advice

Best Places to Live in the US with Special Needs Children

There’s one thing that unites all parents, regardless of class, country or language: the desire to protect and care for their children, and make sure that their lives are as great as they can be. This is just as true in the case of parents of children with disabilites, and extends to every aspect of their childrens’ lives. Choosing a place to live is just one of these factors, and is very important to these parents.

When seeking to find the best cities to raise a special needs child, a parent usually considers factors like the availability of affordable family entertainment options, proximity to hospitals and, of course, being within the best school districts in the county. However, for parents of special needs children, there are often more important factors involved.

Primary concerns: safety and education

Rearing a physically challenged child involves a deep concern, first and foremost, for any facility being equipped with accessibility for wheelchairs and scooters. Beyond this apparent matter, children on Autism Spectrum Disorder need safer homes than typical children because they tend to wander around. In worst-case scenarios, they might be inclined to inflict self-injury or even harm others.

When looking for a home, a parent with special needs children worries about a societal prejudice that can influence their children’s education and professional development. One may also wonder: “Does that area usually employ people with disabilities?” If yes, that should give hope that their child will be accepted and find work in the future there.Then, of course, you have to consider education. While those with stable incomes may be able to afford private schools, most will not be able to afford the hefty tuition fees. Fortunately, there are an assortment of scholarships for those with disabilities, such as the Gardiner Scholarship, the McKay scholarship, and many others. Homeschooling a child with a disability represents a different type of education for parents battling the school system for a curriculum adaptation for special needs students.

Article Summary:

Finally, the search also needs to take into consideration a relief for you, the parent. The best cities to raise a special needs child in the US are usually those that provide professionally trained help in physical or psychological therapy. Furthermore, they organize special needs programs such as special needs housing placement and children inclusion programs. These well-outlined and carefully crafted projects and courses provide parents with breathing space while also helping their children build a sense of independence and self-sufficiency.

We, at RealEstateAgent.com, will be looking at cities with a great offering of special needs programs integrating entertainment options for the whole family. The concept is similar to some of the Best Museums in America that boast excellent accessibility for visual or auditory impairment. Moreover, they provide children with safe spaces and an adapted environment.

We investigated such factors, which you, being a concerned parent, will also likely find an interest in. The upcoming cities are outstanding examples of disability-friendly environments in the present but will remain the perfect home for your children all grown up. By then, they will not have to adapt once again. These cities have high scores in

  • median wages for people with a disability 
  • labor force participation rate 
  • low poverty rate
  • percent of households receiving SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits 
  • high walk and transit scores
  • population residents with a disability
  • a large number of accredited health departments per capita, 
  • percent of residents with a disability that has health insurance.

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Seattle, Washington

downtown seattle washington

The local real estate agents in Seattle WA would, rightfully, take immense pride in their city’s status as one of the best for families. Now, they can add that it just turned into a haven for absolutely all sorts of folks, even those who require special care. Thanks to the innovation boom brought by startups and the development brought by companies headquartered in the city, Seattle Real Estate Agents can tell you that special needs children barely miss out on anything when it comes to museums and other entertainment options.

These attractions are almost always well equipped with accessibility and inclusion measures such as ramps, special accommodations for the hearing- or visually-impaired and many other accessibility options. When trying to ascertain the nation’s best cities to raise a special needs child, this factor is immensely important, and Seattle delivers.

When it comes to health care, Seattle ranks as one of the best cities to raise a special needs child on this factor alone. The city is home to the modern and well equipped Center for Children with Special Needs, an impressive special needs program at the Seattle Children’s Hospital that’s been focusing on improving the health and well-being of special needs children since 1998.

Laredo, Texas

stamp with text loredo texas

If finances are your main concern, take a look at Laredo, Texas. When seeking out the best cities to raise a special needs child, it’s important to take into account employment options for the future, and other financial realities that will no doubt face them later in life.

Laredo is the #1 city with the lowest cost of living, and the #3 with the highest employment rate for people with disabilities. Disabilities require high-skilled medical attention, and Laredo is also #1 when it comes to the affordability of medical care and cost of in-home services.

However, special needs programs are not abundant, and the city, being small, is not that great accessibility wise. Laredo is growing, though; at one point in the 2000s it was the second fastest growing city in the country! It’s entirely possible that these special needs programs and accessibility measures are one of the reasons behind this growth.

This impressive progress is not an unexpected miracle since the city has so many colorful special needs programs and provides accessibility for everyone.

Parents want their kids to succeed and have options to grow professionally, and Laredo seems to be doing great in that area. On the list of best cities to raise a special needs child, Laredo ranks near the top!

Baltimore, Maryland

baltimore maryland cityscape

While showing you around their city, Baltimore Real Estate Agents won’t hesitate to share their town’s many attractive special needs features that make it one of the best cities to raise a special needs child in the U.S.

For starters, Maryland is one among only eight states in the country with over 33% of its special needs population competitively employed. What’s more, its special needs programs, which range from special needs housing placement programs to inclusion programs for special needs children, place it very high on the list of best cities to raise a special needs child in the U.S.

Additionally, Baltimore is, amongst others, home to two of the most respected special needs schools, the Kennedy Krieger School and the William S. Baer School. And, most prominently, the Kennedy Krieger School is widely regarded as the best in the country!

Orlando, FL

the orlando florida eye

Situated in south-central Florida, this summery southern paradise is home to more than just the acclaimed Disney World Theme Parks. With tens of thousands of tourists frequenting the town each week, the professional staff will accommodate people with special needs.

With most public spaces and services boasting extensive special needs accessibility measures and virtually every attraction and institution being equipped with similar measures, Orlando is definitely on the list of best cities to raise a special needs child.

Real estate agents in Orlando will be quick to point out another reason the city is so attractive to parents of special needs children: the climate. Orlando is home to a highly temperate climate that is mainly free of most types of inclement weather, with temperatures rarely dropping below fifty degrees Fahrenheit. For parents of those suffering debilitating disorders that cold temperatures may exacerbate, this city is a dream come true.

The state of Arizona

Arizona is a great state. Period. And not only to special needs children. Arizona has focused on providing several special needs programs for people of various ages and backgrounds. The Arizona Department of Housing, for instance, has a specially trained office to provide special needs housing assistance for:

  • People with Physical Disabilities
  • People with Alzheimer’s Disease
  • People with AIDS/HIV
  • People with Developmental Disabilities
  • People with Serious mental illnesses, emotional disturbance or chronic substance abuse
  • Victims of Domestic Violence

Because of that, it was selected in 2015 as the overall best state by the “Case for Inclusion” initiative.

The cities of Scottsdale and Peoria, Arizona

downtown suburbs in scottsdale

Since these two exceptional cities were selected into the top five disability-friendly locations in America (see later), we decided to give them the red-carpet treatment here. Scottsdale and Peoria, also qualify as the best places to raise a family in Arizona

Scottsdale, the most livable city in the Phoenix-metro area, proved to be a superb location for those who want to raise a family under smooth circumstances. It has plenty of safe suburbs, low crime rates, and its educational system is top-notch in Arizona. Among its many attractions, the local realtors in Scottsdale AZ would highlight its popular golf courses, drop-dead gorgeous resorts and spas, art galleries, posh nightclubs, and country clubs. According to the state, Scottsdale Unified School District has around 2,300 children with disabilities making up 10 percent of the overall student population.

Want to pursue an active lifestyle and take chillout walks with your children? Then Peoria, Az is, by all means, the ideal place for you! Take a breather in relaxing spas and resorts, recreation is the buzzword, and the city delivers unparalleled opportunities. Start with Lake Pleasant Regional Park! The cheerful venue, as the name indicates, is a 23,000-acre park hosting two marinas. Don’t get lost among its many activities, such as boating, fishing, water skiing, kayaking, camping, and scuba diving! Everything in the city is disabled-friendly! The Peoria Unified School District has grown its reputation over the years for being an outstanding facility for special needs children.

What does living with a disability, and/or being a parent of a child with disabilities mean?

happy family moments

Doctors classify a diversity of conditions and impairments as special needs. Under the umbrella term of special needs qualify the following: chronic and terminal illnesses, physical, hearing, visual, and speech impairments, and cognitive or psychiatric issues (intellectual disability and traumatic brain injury). Specific learning disabilities, like dyslexia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affecting attention and executive function, autism, emotional disturbance (such as schizophrenia, anxiety), etc.

Based on recent statistics, 12.8 percent of children under the age of 18 in the United States, meaning approximately 9.4 million adolescents, need special health care services. Children with special health care needs are present in 20 percent of U.S. households.

Parents should be able to provide information on the child’s strengths and weaknesses at home. Secondly, they must be aware of any background information on the child’s history and development. Thirdly, if it’s the case, they must grant teachers and doctors information on any family factors that may affect the child’s learning.

Updates on communities with disabilities

people charity donation

According to the website Abilities, and a thorough analysis compiled by the consumer finance website WalletHub, “Overland Park, Kansas tops the chart as the best place to live for the disability community.” The top five list is completed by the cities of Scottsdale and Peoria, Arizona and Tampa and St. Petersburg, Florida.

The analysis considered the three most important factors for a disabled person:  economic environment, quality of life, and healthcare conditions. The cities mentioned above showcase the great potential in terms of employment rate, median income, and openness of the job market. When considering moving to a disability-friendly city, you might want to try one of the top five out while also getting help from agents that specialize in homes for the disabled. Your offspring with unique needs can surely adapt to an environment that obviously made such significant progress in this field.

Housing benefits for parents living with special needs children?

home or houses on gold coins

On the USA gov official webpage, it is revealed that there are financial assistance and support services for people with disabilities in effect. You can apply for housing resources right now! Several federal, state, and local housing programs can help you find and afford a place to live, change an existing home to become disability-friendly or develop skills to live independently. Each program has its own eligibility rules and application process.

The concept of public housing came into existence to guarantee respectable and safe rental housing for qualified families with low-income and persons with disabilities. Public housing comes in all dimensions and types. You should contact your Local Housing Authority or U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in all cases. Your family is also eligible to apply for Rental Assistance. HUD introduced the so-called Privately owned subsidized housing, in the framework of which, it offers homeowners reduced rents to people with disabilities. In addition, you may also apply for Housing Choice Voucher designed to help pay for the rent. Let us emphasize that each state or city has separate eligibility rules for housing programs.

Conclusion

One last thing that’s important to consider is the proximity to the family. Support is one of the most valuable things a family with special needs children require. And, of course, a special needs program can be a heartfelt and valuable surrogate, but nothing replaces the security only family can provide. Don’t they say that home is where the heart is?

Moving to a new city should always be the adventure of a lifetime for the whole family. A new environment can bring lots of joy and support from special friends, who, in this case, are also professional helpers in the field of special needs. We hope that our article brought some insight on where works best for you and your family. There are certain times when moving to a disability-friendly city can’t be carried out due to financial difficulties. However, accepting these hardships does not mean that you should put up with intolerance of others for your child’s particular needs. Advocate in your community to raise awareness. 

No child of this country should grow up without all the best care possible!

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5 Responses to " Best Places to Live in the US with Special Needs Children "

  1. Real Estate Agent has the best articles I have seen!

    • Teo Teo says:

      Hi, Mary! Thank you for your comment! We are glad you find our articles useful. Have you read the new article on special needs housing?

      • Kathy says:

        I have a special needs young adult she will be leaving school in 2 years, at age 21. I can then move, might you know of any Special Need communities / towns? I did put my daughter on the housing list but, it is a very long wait. I currently live in NJ. Thank you.

        • Ovidiu Tarnaceanu says:

          Hey, Kathy!

          We are glad to hear about your daughter going to school, and we hope this message finds you both well and healthy. Our agents can help you find the town/community you are looking for and by accessing the link provided you can find real estate agents in New Jersey that can help you with your housing situation.

          Also, don’t hesitate to give us a call at 1-866-495-4953 and we will do everything we can to assist you. Stay healthy and we are looking forward to hearing from you.

  2. B Menconi says:

    This is absolutely ludicrous. Did you look at how many successful ADA lawsuits there are for the state of Texas alone?

    I’m in Houston, and I have been forced to work at poverty level in order to afford my daughter’s medical bills. I went ahead and called my family in Laredo to check your facts, they just laughed. I contacted three friends in and around Scottsdale, AZ and they were utterly shocked. You are setting up special needs families and individuals up for failure.

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