The Special Care Industry: What Families and Caregivers Can Expect

The Special Care Industry is a synergistic movement designed to provide a single entry system of access to the vast array of resources available to persons with disabilities, their families, and their caregivers. The Industry seeks to offer a lifetime of support for those in need of these services.

Providers in the Industry are held accountable to each other as well as to the families we serve. Across the Industry, the standards of professional practice are based on these four cornerstones:

  • Data-driven decision-making
  • Relationships
  • Collaboration
  • Intelligent referrals

Data-driven decision making

A viable diagnosis requires reliable data, whether norm-referenced, criterion-referenced, or authentic in form. The data drive the differentiation and efficacy of the diagnosis, and frame the options for treatment and intervention.

Progress is measured by data to inform the decisions for next steps. Besides the short-term goals, long-term planning can be designed with greater confidence as the client’s profile is considered at every turn. Changes are inevitable; options will be explored, accepted and rejected based on the clarity of the data.


A diagnostic evaluation or treatment plan will be of little value unless the client, family, and caregiver are offered respect and trust by their providers. In order to engage in the often-grueling diagnostic and treatment processes, our clients must feel safe and secure in the hands of those probing their minds and bodies.

Their families, having entrusted their loved one’s fate to professionals--strangers--are entering into a mysterious realm of life-changing experiences for everyone. All relationships that grow from these experiences should nurture hope, empower, and strengthen the resolve and courage necessary to sustain each other in their journey.


No single family member, caregiver, doctor, teacher, or therapist can address all the challenges and questions raised by those in need of special care. Just as our clients cannot succeed alone, the Industry cannot meet its responsibilities without working in concert. From the multi-disciplinary diagnostic evaluation to the design and implementation of the service plan, the Industry is charged with modeling collaboration, bringing to the table all the essential elements to provide meaningful responses to the critical life questions placed before them. The family and caregivers are equal partners in this collaboration.

Intelligent referrals

Providers in the Special Care Industry, through collaboration within their professional network, become agents of progress. We open doors to additional resources and opportunities. By making intelligent referrals in a timely way, we respond proactively to many questions that may arise: “My child is aging out of this program. Where do we go now?” “Our insurance is maxed out. How can we continue to pay for services?” “How can we plan for care after our retirement...in the event of our death...if the condition worsens...?” “Our family needs respite care!” ”What options for employment will there be for this person?” “What living arrangement will be appropriate for our loved one?” “This intervention isn’t working!” ”That agency has a year-long waiting list!” If a provider cannot answer the inquiry, they will identify colleagues in the Industry who can do so, thus facilitating a seamless transition from one step of the journey to the next.

As the Special Care Industry brings the power of community and collaboration to light, we welcome all providers to join us in creating a model of service that is truly barrier-free and accessible to all those in need.


Gloria Young is a Special Education Consultant based in Austin, TX. She spent four decades as a social worker and special education administrator, and now serves as the Events Coordinator for the Connections Project in Austin. Contact Gloria at gloriayoungconsulting@gmail.com.