While reading, research, pinterest searching and blogging like a mad woman about Children with Special Needs I have come across some various discussion on the term “special needs.” The website Disability Is Natural is so against it they even have printable posters to discontinue the use of the phrase.
I have been feeling increasingly conflicted, because my class is, after all, called Children with Special Needs.
So, I’ve been doing some pacing, some chatting with my husband who took a master’s level course in this stuff, and some thinking. I want to explain why I am choosing to continue to use this phrase. Before I offer my explanation, I want to first invite anyone reading this to please leave their thoughts in the comment section. I’m genuinely interested I what people have to say about this phrase.
I will continue to use this phrase until further notice because when I say children or people “with special needs” I am not explicitly referring to children or people with disabilities. The text book for my class is called The Exceptional Child, uses the phrase children with special needs, and discuss a lot more than children with disabilites. In my previous posts discussing the history and legislation for people with disabilities I only used that phrase: “people with disabilities” because my reference was not broad. My use of the word is usually in context of inclusion too. If I have to make special accommodations for them to be included in my classroom, I would say they fall under the category of a child with special needs.
When I speak of children with special needs I am discussing just that, a child that has a special need, or needs. After working as a Head Start teacher for three years, one thing I’ve learned is that there are a lot of kids with special needs. Here is a partial list of children with special needs:
- a child with a disability
- an English language learner
- a child with an unstable home life
- a gifted child
- a child with a difficult temperment
- a child with aggression issues or bullying tendencies
- a child who withdraws quickly or easily
- a child in the minority
- a child who is homeless
- a child who is not getting enough to eat in the mornings
- a child who is more active than his/her peers but has not been diagnosed with anything
- a sensory sensitive child
- a sensory seeking child
I three children in my class this year who are on IEPs and I have even more who have special needs and who and what they need differs by day too. So this is my rationale for using the word. Let me know what you think.
lots of love & sunshine, Ms. Sarah