For Parents

OTHER RESOURCES -These resources are designed to help parents get the information and support they need to address the specific joys and challenges of raising a child with Down Syndrome.

If you are a new parent, make sure you check out our New Parent’s Guide first.

Downtown – Our Quarterly Newsletter

The DSACF publishes an information-packed newsletter four times each year (Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter) as well as special editions. DownTown is the voice of the DSACF and its members and welcomes submissions from parents and other family members, professionals in the field of Down syndrome and more. To start receiving DownTown and other important alerts from the DSACF, join DSACF. To download the latest issue of DownTown, please click here Winter2014DownTownFINAL.

New Parent Information Packets

If you are a new or expectant parent, congratulations! Please call to request an information packet by mail, in person or you can request one online by signing up to become a DSACF member and put “request packet” in the note field.

Parent-to-Parent Connections

The DSACF is comprised of hundreds of diverse families (of all ages of children and adults with Down syndrome, different ethnic/cultural backgrounds, various local counties, etc.) who have tons of information and wisdom to share with each other. One of the best resources for information (questions about your child’s development, doctor recommendations, school issues, etc.) are other parents. The DSACF provides parent-to-parent mentors. If you would like to talk to another family who has experience walking on your same path to a brighter future (whether it’s a recent heart surgery or other medical concern, home schooling, private or public school or inclusion issues, transition planning, social and recreation opportunities for adults, etc.). Contact Amy Van Bergen for more information.

Other parent to parent connections include our Community Groups.

The DSACF recognizes that there are varied interests among the DSACF community. Examples include geographical considerations, cultural considerations, educational considerations, and age considerations. When there are common interests among some families that differ from interests of other families, the DSACF recognizes the benefits of a community group among these families. Where these interests are aligned with the DSACF’s mission statement, then the we recognizes the benefits of distributing some of its resources to an organized community group that operates under the umbrella of the DSACF. Such available resources often include: financial support, educational support, professional assistance and physical property.

The DSACF proudly supports the following Community Groups and look for their group pages on Facebook:

1. DS Group of Volusia County  Leader: Michelle Jenkins

2. Hispanic Outreach  Leader: Wanda Cruz and David Garcia, Xiomara and Juan Roman

3. Kiwanis Aktion Club  Leader: Gary Israel

4. Friendship Group Leaders: Barbara Costanzo and Kathy Byrnes ( or

5. Dads Appreciating Down Syndrome (D.A.D.S.) Leaders: Travis Frosch, Chad Hendricks, John Samaan   DADS National

6. Community Group of South Lake County  Leader:  Lynn Cyr  Facebook page: DS of South Lake County

7. North Central Florida Down Syndrome Group  Leader: Cassandra Wojtaszak

Monthly Informational and Support Meetings

DSACF hosts monthly support meetings usually on the fourth Friday of each month featuring local and state experts on healthcare, early intervention, guardianship options, community resources, estate planning, how to write smart IEPs and more. Meeting Schedule | Location Map  The Jan. 24, 2014 most recently featured Educational Advocate Jonathan C. McIntire, PhD. on “Supporting the Education of Your Child.” The handouts are available by visiting:

Free Special Clinic for Special People

The DSACF, along with co-sponsors Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and the Developmental Center for Infants & Children at the Howard Phillips Center, offers an annual free medical screening clinic for children, teens and adults with Down syndrome. The Special Clinic that features professionals such as cardiologists, ENTs, dentists and orthodontists, eye doctors, orthopedists, therapists and many others, as well as community resources. By appointment only. Check the DSACF Schedule for our next clinic (this event is usually held in February or March).

Educational Support/Development of Individual Education Plans (IEPs)

If you would like some ideas on IEP goals, classroom or school placement, etc you can contact the DSACF for educational support. Trained volunteers are also available to attend your student’s IEP meeting. Call 407-478-5621 for assistance or email Amy Van Bergen.

DSACF Therapy Scholarship

To help support the growth and development of children with Down syndrome throughout Central Florida, the Down Syndrome Association of Central Florida (DSACF), through a generous donation as well as Step Up for Down Syndrome Walk monies, offers a scholarship program for Speech, Language, Physical, Occupational, Behavior and other early intervention therapies. Alternative therapy programs will be considered on a case-by-case basis. The DSACF Therapy Scholarship Program awards up to $3,000 in financial assistance to DSACF member families toward the costs of the mentioned therapies. *Due to the increasing demand for supplemental therapy scholarships, the DSACF is reviewing its current policies and procedures and will have the revised process and application posted in the Spring 2013. Be sure to check back then or on our Facebook page for updates.*

Special Workshops & Training

Please see our Event Calendar.

Lunch & Learn Webinars

Free monthly Lunch & Learn webinars, featuring experts on DS-related topics. The webinar can be accessed by computer or telephone from 12-1pm one Monday per month. Please refer to Calendar for specific dates & registration.

Preparing for an IEP with Dr. Jonathan C. McIntire on Jan. 13, 2014 (available until Feb. 10), click

Free Family Day at Universal Studios

What a great day our DSACF members had at Universal Studios Orlando. One time annually, Universal Studios provides a free family fun day at the park. Family size and availability is limited. This year they are inviting 400 free guests/DSACF members. Check our the DSACF Facebook group page for lots of fun photos and be sure to sign up early for the 2013 day! Details will be emailed to all DSACF members (dues are renewed every August 1) the week of October 21, 2013.

Free Day at Cirque du Soleil “La Nouba” and Backstage Tour

More Info [pdf] or email

Teen Talk

6 week social skills course offered annually for teens (ages 13-21 years) with Down syndrome. Workshop facilitator is a licensed mental health counselor with significant experience working with children and adults with disabilities. See event calendar for future dates.

Step Up for Down Syndrome Walk

To celebrate October as Down Syndrome Awareness Month, the DSACF offers this family fun day for families and the community alike at Lake Eola, Orlando. The Step Up for Down Syndrome Walk is the primary fundraiser for all of the activities, supports and programs offered by the DSACF. For more information see our Step Up for Down Syndrome Walk page or our event calendar.

Annual Community Champions Awards Banquet

Every year the DSACF honors local individuals, businesses and groups that advocate on behalf of people with Down syndrome and other disabilities. This event is now part of the Annual Florida Down Syndrome Conference held in March at the University of Central Florida. For more information please see our event calendar.

Disability Awareness Presentations

If you, your school or place of worship or community civic group would be interested in a 20-60 minute disability awareness presentation with facts and myths about Down syndrome, please contact us.

Family Emergency Fund

For DSACF member families, the DSACF offers an emergency fund for those in short-term financial or medical crisis. Contact Amy Van Bergen for more information.

General Resource Information & Referral

The DSACF is currently working on an updated member resource directory. In the meantime, if you have questions about resources (physicians, therapists, schools, etc.) please contact Amy Van Bergen for more information.

For more information on these or on starting a new group, click here for more information.