I was recently asked why I don’t typically use the phrase “special needs”. This video illustrates my thinking really well –
It is important to me that I focus on our shared humanity; when we are talking about “special needs” we are really talking about the human and civil rights of people, and that includes people with disabilities. Disability is simply part of the human experience, and the word special implies that it is somehow not. Therefore I don’t typically say special needs when referring to people, generally use people-first language, and always try to respect people’s wishes.
Now, coming back to the video, if I could pick the celebrity who woke me up…and if they brought me coffee, I might be on board with “special needs.”