Special Needs Network works at the intersection of social justice and disability rights. Our mission is to raise awareness about the unique ways that race, gender, and class impact people with disabilities, particularly African Americans, Latinx, and others in the BIPOC community. By confronting structural racism, anti-Black bias, and other forms of systemic disparities, SNN works to impact public policy while providing education and resources to individuals with special needs and their families.
SNN serves as a link between underserved communities and mainstream developmental disability organizations and governmental institutions, which often fail to address issues specific to these communities. SNN envisions a world where all marginalized people have opportunities to live full lives that honor their individual cultures, traditions, norms, and abilities.
Founded in 2005, Special Needs Network, Inc. SNN grew out of the struggles of Areva D. Martin, Esq. after her son Marty was diagnosed with autism at the age of two. When Ms. Martin became aware of the enormous challenges faced by families affected by developmental disabilities in underserved communities, she worked to create a parent-centered organization with four resolutions:
1. Reduce the waiting period for families to have their children diagnosed;
2. Bring education, resources, and services directly to the community;
3. Provide unique learning opportunities for children and young adults with developmental disabilities; and
4. Forge an action-based coalition of families empowered to self-advocate at all levels of government.
These urgent resolutions were the seeds that blossomed into Special Needs Network and our long list of programs that today serve thousands of families in the Los Angeles area and throughout the state of California.