Many parents, siblings, family members and friends have questions regarding The Arc Alliance’s services and support. The following are questions and answers to many questions commonly posed to The Arc Alliance. If you have a question that is not addressed please contact us at 610-265-4700.

Q: What is The Arc?

A: The Arc is the world’s largest community-based organization of and for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. It provides an array of services and support for families and individuals and includes over 140,000 members affiliated through more than 700 state and local chapters across the nation. The Arc is devoted to promoting and improving supports and services for all people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The Arc’s vision is that every individual and family affected by I/DD in the United States has access to the information, advocacy, and skills they need to participate as active citizens of our democracy and be active members of their community. We work to ensure that people with I/DD and their families have the supports they need to live an ordinary American life. The Arc is a tax-exempt nonprofit organization governed by a volunteer board of directors.

Q: What does “The Arc” stand for?

A: Throughout its history, The Arc’s name has seen many changes.

1950: Founded as the National Association of Parents and Friends of Mentally Retarded Children

1952: Name changed to the National Association for Retarded Children (NARC).

1974: Name changed to the National Association for Retarded Citizens.

1980: Name changed to Association for Retarded Citizens of the United States.

1991: The best name change, to The Arc, removing the word “retarded” for the first time.

Q: How many members does The Arc have?

A: The Arc has over 140,000 members nationally. The Montgomery County chapter has over 2,500 members.

Q: How many chapters does The Arc have?

A: The Arc has more than 700 local and state chapters. The Arc Alliance provides support and services in Montgomery, Berks and Bucks Counties. We also serve clients in Philadelphia and Chester Counties. Each local chapter provides different services and supports.

Q: What are my rights as an individual with I/DD?

A: See the Department of Justice’s A Guide to Disability Rights Laws.

Q: How do I join The Arc Alliance?

A: Click here to become a member of The Arc Alliance. Membership at the local chapter level also includes membership in state and national chapters.

Q: How can I stay up-to-date with The Arc and The Arc Alliance?

A: There are several ways you can receive information about The Arc’s happenings:

      • Sign up to receive our e-newsletter and email updates;
      • Follow us on Twitter
      • Become a Facebook fan.

Q: Who do I call if I have questions about my child’s services?

A: It is always a good idea to call the Service Coordinator at the County which is assigned to your child for questions about your program. You can find their name and number on the signature page of your child’s Multidisciplinary Evaluation (MDE)/Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP). These questions are in regards to Children’s Services.

Q: What can I expect to happen when a teacher or therapist comes to work with my child?

A: Early Intervention is a family teaching model of services designed to help your child more easily take part in your family life. You may be asked a number of questions about the parts of the day that are challenging and what routines you would like addressed first. The Early Interventionist will work with you to develop strategies and will spend some time demonstrating, other times coaching you in the activity your child will be completing.

Q: What does a physical therapist do for a young child?

A: A physical therapist will specialize in motor skills like sitting, crawling and walking. Like all early intervention therapists, a physical therapist will teach you skills to use with your child to address whatever motor needs he or she is having. They will show you ways to encourage motor development and teach you therapy techniques to correct any problems or deficits. The goal for all early intervention therapists is to teach you the skills necessary to teach your child.

Q: How can I get the most benefit from services?

A: You will get the most from your child’s services by staying actively involved in each session. Schedule visits at a time of day that includes the routine you are working on. Keep a notebook for questions that may arise during the week between visits. Try to limit distractions during visits (TV or outside visitors) , although you do not need to keep your other children separate from the activity, as they can often help encourage their brother or sister to participate.

Q: How can I meet other parents of children in Early Intervention?

A: Every county has a Local Inter Agency Coordinating Council which is a group of parents and Early Intervention staff that meet monthly. Usually there is a topic or presentation, discussion and refreshments. There is often child care offered to make it easier to participate. This is a great place to start.

Q: How do I know when my child may need a speech therapist?

A: Children who are attempting to communicate, are not showing you in some way what their wants and needs are should be evaluated, regardless of age, to see if they qualify for early intervention services. Once your child is determined to be eligible for services the team will then make recommendations as to what kind of therapist would best address your needs. A speech therapist may be the best choice if your child is suspected of being on the autism spectrum, has oral motor difficulties or has all the building blocks (prerequisites), for talking but is not, or has lost language skills that they previously had.

Q: What should I do when my child turns three to get services when early intervention ends?

A: If you are currently receiving birth to three early intervention services your Service Coordinator will assist you in this process. If your child has not been in services before you should contact your local intermediate unit or school district.

The Arc Alliance provides services throughout your child’s life. The Arc Alliance provides Supports Coordination for Berks, Bucks, Chester, Philadelphia and Montgomery County. Give us a call at 610-265-4700 and we can see how to best serve you and your child’s needs.

In Pennsylvania you can call CONNECT at 1-800-692-7288 and the will direct you to the correct place.

Q: I have a 19 month old son and I am wondering if he may have autism because he doesn’t make direct eye contact or play with other children. What should I do?

A: Any time you have concerns about your child whether medical or developmental, it is good to start with a conversation with your pediatrician. A physician referral, however, is not a requirement for an evaluation through early intervention. When you have persistent concerns about your child’s development, whatever they are, that is a good time to seek out an evaluation through early intervention. The evaluation, and subsequent services should your child qualify, are provided at no cost to families.

Q. How does The Arc Alliance serve parents and families of children with disabilities?

A. The Arc Alliance helps parents and families to understand their children’s disabilities, their legal rights and responsibilities, and evidence-based education practices. We also help parents and families to advocate for the needs of their children, to resolve disputes with schools and other providers through collaboration when possible, and to participate in systems reform activities.

Q. What kinds of disabilities are covered by the programs and services of The Arc Alliance?

A. The Arc Alliance provides programs and services covering intellectual, developmental disabilities or delays, and other disabilities without restriction. For purposes of our programs and services, we view developmental disabilities as including all disabilities affecting children, youth, and young adults.