Special needs children come in many forms, including children with mental illness.  Recently, I met a woman with an 8 year old child who was diagnosed bi-polar and ADHD.  She told me how her daughter had to be Baker Acted (click here to learn more) because the child was violent toward herself and her family.  It is so sad to see or hear from a family that have nowhere to turn, and it seems that those with special needs children with mental illness are especially vulnerable to the lack of services.

I did ask the mother if she’d ever heard of NAMI or National Alliance on Mental Illness (http://www.namiflorida.org/).  I was quite surprised that none of the social workers, doctors, psychiatrists, etc., that she had dealt with had never mentioned NAMI to her.  NAMI is a wonderful organization designed to educate parents and provide support groups for parents who have children with mental illness, as well as providing support for the other family members.  While NAMI is a national group, there is a Florida organization, and there is even a chapter in Hillsborough County – if you have a loved one with a mental illness, I hope you will check out NAMI and use their tools to provide you with support and help you advocate for your loved one.

Many times, I find that parents with special needs children don’t know where to turn for help.  As an attorney who assists parents with special needs children, my door is always open to point special needs parents in the right direction.


Attorney, Laurie Ohall, is an estate planning and special needs attorney based in Brandon, Florida, serving clients throughout Tampa Bay.  If you have a child who is developmentally disabled or has special needs , contact a special needs attorney as soon as possible to determine the legal options that are best for your family.