Special Needs Issues Include All of the Following Except:
The term “special needs” has come up under increasing scrutiny over the years, and for good reason. Information technology’due south a vague, euphemistic phrase that tin can be offensive to many people. Nevertheless, it is nonetheless said within educational and customs settings throughout the United States, and is often used interchangeably with diagnostic terms or words like “disabled.” Incidentally, the term “special needs” has no legal meaning.
We’ve turned to the experts to learn well-nigh the origins of the term “special needs,” sympathise more near why the term is problematic, and what to say instead.
Origins of the Term “Special Needs”
While the exact origins of “special needs” are difficult to trace, it’s of import to note that the phrase does not announced in several key legal documents in U.Due south. history.
It is noticeably absent from the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (Idea) of 1965, the Rehabilitation Deed of 1973, the Individuals with Disabilities Teaching Act of 1990, and the Americans with Disabilities Human action (ADA) of 1990 and 2014.
“Never one time [in these acts] are children with disabilities or adults with disabilities referred to as children with special needs or adults with special needs,” emphasizes Morton Ann Gersbacher, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. “Rather, individuals with disabilities are ever referred to in U.S. law equally individuals with disabilities.”
We do know that the term “special needs” has go a catch-all phrase for all forms of disability and a variety of diagnoses. Currently, “special needs” can refer to annihilation from “difficulty with reading at class level” to “unable to complete the most bones tasks of daily living.”
Nosotros also know that the phrase has become a euphemism that is vague and confusing—especially when it aims to encapsulate a wide diverseness of conditions and diagnoses.
Why the Term “Special Needs” Is Confusing
The term “special needs” is extremely general. Every bit it’s used today, it refers to whatever behavioral, concrete, emotional, or learning difficulties that require specialized accommodations of whatever sort at school, piece of work, or in the community.
While the listing of possible diagnoses included under the label “special needs” is enormous, some of the near common relate to academic settings and can include:
- Learning disabilities (dyslexia, dysgraphia, etc.)
- Tourette’due south syndrome
- Disorders that incorporate intellectual disabilities, such equally Down syndrome
- Disorders that make physical activeness challenging, including cerebral palsy, blindness, or deafness,
- Speech and linguistic communication disorders ranging from apraxia of speech to stuttering
- Emotional and behavioral disorders including anxiety, depression, oppositional-defiant disorder, and more
- Physical differences such every bit amputated limbs or dwarfism
Other bottom known disorders, such as not-verbal learning disorder, as well fall under the term special needs.
Why “Special Needs” Can Be Offensive
The term “special needs” is a euphemism for the better-known terms like “disabled.” Euphemisms, by definition, are terms used to soften the meaning of other phrases. We don’t apply the toilet; nosotros euphemistically “go to the restroom.” We don’t dice; we “pass away.”
It was once idea that words similar “inability” or “impairment” might crave a euphemism like “special needs.” The thinking was that parents might feel more comfortable saying “my child has special needs” rather than “my kid is disabled.”
The term “special needs,” however, has go stigmatized in the same fashion equally the term “handicapped.” A 2016 written report found that people think of the term “special needs” every bit more than negative than the discussion “disabled.”
The presence of a disability is non and should not exist seen as shameful. The use of a euphemism in place of a diagnosis or fifty-fifty in place of the term “disability” creates the sense that there is something negative or even embarrassing to hide. The aforementioned sense of shame tin exist communicated by other terms such as “differently abled” or “challenged.”
What to Say Instead of “Special Needs”
While the phrase “special needs” has no legal meaning, the word “inability” does. “Disabled” is a straightforward word with a articulate-cut significant, which is why many people prefer it to the phrase “special needs.” Equally the Americans With Disabilities Human action tells us, “An private with a inability is defined by the ADA as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such an impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment.”
Another choice is to describe a person’s disabilities by naming their particular diagnosis. In some cases, it’s helpful to use “person-starting time” linguistic communication (“a person with ADHD”) as opposed to describing the person in terms of their disability (“an broken-hearted person”). It’s important to notation that this is non e’er the best pick; for example, some people with autism diagnoses adopt the term “autistic person.”
Because there are differences of opinion about the “best” terms to utilize, an platonic option is to simply ask. This isn’t always possible; when information technology’due south not, it’due south preferable to use the term “disabled.” Always avoid terms that are clearly euphemisms for disability, such as “special” and “exceptional.”
Emily Ladau, author of “Demystifying Disability: What to Know, What to Say, and How to be an Ally,” explains, “I believe deeply that language preferences are a personal choice, and everyone should have a right to cull identifying terms that feel best for them. I endeavor to remind people that linguistic communication isn’t one-size-fits-all, especially since there are more than than a billion disabled people in the world.”
Ladau adds that the term “disability” is not a bad word; information technology’s a state of being. In some cases, a disability can actually connote identity, history, and civilisation. Avoiding the term can come beyond as more patronizing than respectful.
A Word From Verywell
It tin be hard to choose the right language for every situation, and the term “special needs” is not going to disappear overnight. In fact, you may detect information technology impossible to avert the term in many situations, especially if yous are disabled or take a loved one with a inability.
That said, information technology’s best to avoid euphemisms whenever possible. Instead of “my child with special needs,” consider substituting “my child,” or “my child with,” or even just your child’s proper name. When speaking with others, the term “disabled” is widely preferred, but it never hurts to ask about someone’s personal preference when it comes to language.
Verywell Family unit uses just loftier-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts inside our articles. Read our editorial process to larn more about how we fact-cheque and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
Gernsbacher MA, Raimond AR, Balinghasay MT, Boston JS. “Special needs” is an ineffective euphemism. Cogn Res Princ Implic. 2016;1(i):29. doi: 10.1186/s41235-016-0025-iv. Epub 2016 December 19. PMID: 28133625; PMCID: PMC5256467.
Gernsbacher MA, Raimond AR, Balinghasay MT, Boston JS. “Special needs” is an ineffective euphemism. Cogn Res Princ Implic. 2016;1(1):29. doi: 10.1186/s41235-016-0025-4. Epub 2016 December nineteen. PMID: 28133625; PMCID: PMC5256467.
National Center on Disability and Journalism. Disability Language Style Guide.
Gernsbacher MA, Raimond AR, Balinghasay MT, Boston JS. “Special needs” is an ineffective euphemism. Cogn Res Princ Implic. 2016;1(1):29. doi: 10.1186/s41235-016-0025-4. Epub 2016 December 19. PMID: 28133625; PMCID: PMC5256467.
U.Southward. Department of Justice. A Guide to Disability Rights Laws.
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Special Needs Issues Include All of the Following Except: