Support For Families of Children with ASD in Kentucky

by Heidi Cooley-Cook


The Commonwealth has a great variety of supports for parents and other caregivers of individuals with autism.  Did you know that there are over 40 support groups throughout the state of Kentucky?  Use the link to find one in your area!  Groups are listed by Special Education Cooperative Region - not sure which region you are in check out this map, find your county and the corresponding co-op!

Support Group Leaders are a great source of information and to learn more about the resources and services available in your community.


Aware that an even greater network of support was needed for families and individuals with autism, the KATC developed the Family Network: Families Supporting Families.  The first step of this initiative was to bolster the skills of individuals who were interested in serving as a leader in their community and working with families and policy makers as an advocate for individuals with autism.  To do that, the KATC partnered with the Council on Developmental Disabilities (CDD) to present a series of trainings based on the curriculum the CDD uses with their L.E.A.D. Parents Program.


The first cohort completed the intensive two day training in May 2013.   These 16 individuals traveled near and far from 10 counties to embark on the journey to become a Family Leader!  They are now participating in a series of enrichment sessions and will graduate in the fall and will be pinned Family Leaders!!!!  Upon completion of the trainings, the Family Leaders will have a broad knowledge base from Special Education Law and How to be an Effective Advocate to Funding Sources and Listening and Asking Clarifying Questions. They will be an additional source of support and advocacy for families throughout the state!


For more information on KATC’s Family Network: Families Supporting Families and the Family Leader trainings, please contact Heidi Cooley-Cook 502-852-6401.


Several agencies provide support and resources to individuals and families of individuals with autism and other disabilities.  Please take a moment to visit their websites and check out all that they have to offer!  Feel free to contact them if you have any questions.  Together we can improve the quality of life for those affected by ASD!



KY-SPIN (Kentucky Special Parent Involvement Network), Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with a statewide mission to empower and support individuals with disabilities and their families to effectively advocate for and access needed information, resources and support networks in order to enhance the quality of their lives.

SPIN is the statewide Parent Training and Information (PTI) center that provides training, information and support to people with all types of disabilities, their parents and families, and professionals birth thru 26 years old. SPIN-PTI is funded by the U.S. Dept. of Education.

In partnership with KDE (Kentucky Department of Education), SPIN assist schools and communities in providing educational information and training opportunities to parents of children with disabilities consistent with the IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act).

Through a “Families Training Families” model of training, consultants throughout the state conduct community workshops, provide information and support to families of children with all types of disabilities on the issues of laws, rights, listening and communication skills, and understanding their child’s disabilities. There is no fee for SPIN services. Resource materials and referral services are also available. Through our 800 number we assist families through one on one consultation stepping through the process of accessing services for their child.

KY-SPIN, Inc. 
10301-B Deering Rd.
Louisville, KY 40272
Toll Free: 1-800-525-7746 Phone: (502)937-6894 
Fax: (502) 937-6464 E-mail:



Kentucky Partnership for Families and Children, Inc. (KPFC) is a statewide, non-profit organization developed to assist and to provide a voice for families that have children with behavioral health challenges. Examples of behavioral health disorders include Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Anxiety Disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Depression, Reactive Attachment Disorder, and many more. KPFC’s vision is that all families raising youth and children affected by behavioral health challenges will achieve their fullest potential. KPFC’s mission is to empower families affected by behavioral health challenges to initiate personal and systems change. KPFC believes all families affected by these challenges deserve responsive systems providing services that are:

  • Family-driven and youth guided
  • Culturally and linguistically sensitive
  • Readily available and understandable
  • Valued, embraced, and modeled by collaboration and
  • Utilize the wraparound model

Family-driven means families have a primary decision making role in the care of their own children as well as the policies and procedures governing care for all children in their community, state and nation. Youth-guided parallels this principle by asserting that youth should also be involved at all levels of the system. A family-driven and youth-guided system provides an environment that supports family involvement and opportunities to connect with other families and youth as well as opportunities to develop leadership skills. Families and youth are involved in treatment, planning, and evaluation for their family. They are also utilized as policy makers and advocates.

In creating a “family-driven and youth-guided” system of care, KPFC along with many partners are working to create an infrastructure that invites youth and parents across the state to “Join the Movement.” The Kentucky Family and Youth Movement Steering Committee is working to increasingly empower youth with behavioral health challenges and their families through leadership development and advocacy skills. Furthermore, the principle of this movement focuses on the benefits of family peer-to-peer and youth peer-to-peer involvement. Peer-to-peer involvement gives hope, fosters support and allows for increased opportunities for our youth and families.  As the movement grows and strengthens, Kentucky’s youth and parent voice will be a tipping-point for positive, long-term change.

KPFC works to strengthen the family and youth movement by providing support, education, and advocacy to parents, youth, and professionals through activities such as trainings, a quarterly newsletter, website, parent resource line, and providing a parent and youth voice at state-level policy making committees. KPFC holds the Kentucky Family Leadership Academy two to three times a year. This free training focuses on helping parents and youth learn how to use their voices for making change occur for themselves and their communities. The Leadership Academy strengthens leadership skills and helps parents and youth to become more comfortable sharing their story. KPFC also holds a training once a year for parents and caregivers who desire to become Kentucky Family Peer Support Specialist. In addition to this, KPFC offers trainings throughout the year on a variety of topics such as Educational Advocacy, Launching Your Transition-Age Youth/Young Adult, Parenting or Teaching a Child with Bipolar, Suicide Prevention, Partnering with Parents, Youth Mental Health First Aid, and many more. Additionally, KPFC hosts conferences each year for families and youth including the annual Youth/Parent Conference and the Early Childhood Family Conference. If you would like to learn more about how KPFC provides a united voice dedicated to improving services for children in Kentucky with behavioral health challenges or if you would like to become involved in the parent and youth movement, please visit KPFC’s website at or call (800)369-0533.



Heidi Cooley-Cook is a Family Field Training Coordinator for the KY Autism Training Center where she provides direct training and technical assistance to families.


KY Autism Training Center Summer 2013 Newsletter August 2013

Heidi Cooley-Cook is a Family Field Training Coordinator for the KY Autism Training Center where she provides direct training and technical assistance to families.