or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Mom › Parenting › Special Needs Parenting › What do you consider "special needs"?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

What do you consider "special needs"?

post #1 of 92
Thread Starter 
See, I don't quite consider my dd special needs - I actually have refered to her as "not quite special needs" b/c she usually doesn't qualify for services b/c she's not "special" enough - ie: doesn't have a diagnosis.

She does have global developmental delays across the board except for social. She has major language delays. Plus strabismus that is corrected by glasses (which we're still working on keeping them on) and now wears #4 DAFO's to keep her feet straight and her ankles upright. Yet even with her glasses and DAFO's, you don't look at her and think "Wow, she's got issues." Socks hide the DAFO's and she looks cute in her glasses. She doesn't have health problems except for being hypersensitive to bug bites and being a bit more prone to colds (though that might be due to three older sibs who go to elementary school and then bring germs home.)

But despite her delays, I don't see her as special needs. Yet she will be going into special ed (or early childhood developmentally delayed) preschool this fall. We met with her classmates and I felt guilty for thinking how normal my dd seemed compared to the other kids, but a friend of mine with a special needs son said I shouldn't feel guilty, we all want our kids to just be normal. I also feel bad when people start talking to her, thinking she's going to respond, and she never does, and I half the time say "Oh, she's not talking yet." I hate having to say that. Because at the end of the day, I don't think of my daughter as delayed or having special needs, even while I'm strapping her into her footgear or trying to get her to say a word.

I do joke that yes, she has issues, but who doesn't
post #2 of 92
In my opinion special needs means having an issue that affects your basic ability to socialize and maintain relationships, be educated, get around, maintain health, care for yourself and sustain yourself (basic hygeine, eating, etc), or fit into "mainstream" society and eventually support yourself.

Even if some service does not feel that a person does not fit into their criteria for services doesn't mean a person is not special needs. My dd1 for example. She's very bright but had and still has sensory issues. They affected her ability to be social and cope with stress and get to sleep and eat properly. But she did not get any services. My dd2 has a feeding tube for goodness sake! Because she gags a lot and vomits and has major feeding aversions. She also has sensory issues but they are no longer severe enough to qualify her for services. With both children, they needed to be a certain percentage delayed in two or more areas. Since dd1 was so advanced in so many areas they did not accept her into the special classroom (might not have been great for her anyway-- to busy). Dd2 was also meeting her milestones and was an early talker and got past the sensory issues to the point where they were only affecting her ability to eat, not anything else. So she was dropped. Or rather, she "graduated." Whatever.

My dd2 is now really social and on track and I only consider her to have special needs with feeding. But it would be nice to get some professional help in that area! Dd1 has also gotten past most of her sensory issues, is thriving in the homeschool setting for now, and doesn't need services. It would have been great to get them when she was a toddler/preschooler though! We were sooo stressed out.

I think you have a great attitude with your dd! Kids should be treated as normall as possible and not see themselves as having special needs except where they need some extra help. I have see parents who actually hold their kids back because they think they can't do something, or they don't guide them with behaviors because they attribute them to being SN when they might just be bad manners. With my dd2 and her recent feeding problems we had to tease out what was behavior issues (bad table manners-- kicking and throwing food) and genuine feeding problems like gagging and a lack of desire to eat.
post #3 of 92
My definition is very much like USAmma's.

I will say, that I do NOT in anyway believe that EI/ECI is what determines whether someone has special needs. All this: qualifying in 2 areas, and delay over this number of months is total to me.

mv
post #4 of 92
My son has Asperger's Syndrome and I do define him as special needs, mostly to help other people understand better. SO many people say "Oh, he doesn't look Autistic!"... until they realise that at almost 8 years old he is not able to hold a back and forth conversation. He can't look you in the eye without an emotional meltdown. He can't control his emotions or his energy at all.

I do not know if he fits a traditional definition of special needs or not, but it does seem to help others understand their own expectations.

I tell him that *all* people are special in their own way and every one has special needs in one area or another, even those who are developmentally normal or advanced.
post #5 of 92
To me, there are special needs and then there are Special Needs (with capital letters).

All children have some degree of special needs, and some have lots more than others. I try to think of all children on this spectrum. For example, my typically developing son has his own set of special needs: high-needs, super energetic, busy, probably gifted, etc. His special needs require a lot of time and energy. And my daughter with severe cerebral palsy has her special needs: tons of medical issues, mobility issues, pain, etc. Her special needs require a TON of time and energy. But they both definitely have unique and important needs, and just because my dd's happen to be more difficult, complex, and time-consuming, does not mean they are more significant than my typically-developing son's.

Now that is special needs with lower-case. Special Needs with upper-case has become an idiom in our language to represent what I consider a pretty select and well-defined group of children. These are children whose medical/emotional/behavioral (etc.) issues have a major effect on their daily life and require significant adaptation. I believe that this definition has become a colloquial part of our language, one that most of us now have a pretty developed sense of meaning. We all *know* what Special Needs is, even if we cannot define it. (Kind of like pornography...we all know it when we see it.) By ths definition, a child with asthma and no other issues is probably not Special Needs. A child with mild CP who can run and play is not Special Needs either. But a child who does not eat and requires a feeding tube may be Special Needs. And a child with Autism, significant learning/cognitive disabilities, significant mental health issues, or considerable physical impairment most likely is Special Needs. I think this is the reason that many of us balk at including gifted children as Special Needs (with capital letters)...while they have tons of special needs, they are not part of the colloquial understanding of the term.

That's my opinion.
post #6 of 92
I also think there is a difference between "special needs" and "Special Needs". Although I think that sometimes the "two standard deviations" is too stringent I also think that they are necessary. There are parents whose children are just "quirky" who insist their kid is SN. Maybe its because of the parents need to have a "special child" - you're always hearing stories about parents who are "attention seakers" when it comes to their kids.

But aside from that, to develope loose boundries in SN to me it is the difference between parenting. When a child just has "quirkiness" a parent is able to become a little creative and get passed the "quirkiness". When that child grows up they will most probably NOT be considered "quirky" - at least in a negative way. But for my children - no matter how creative I get with my parenting it doesn't change the fact that they are still hearing impaired. When my DD grows up she may be considered excentric (right now I consider it "drama queen!") - but she will still be hearing impaired. No matter what I do it will never change the fact that she will struggle to hear conversation, her understanding of her world will be limited in many areas, and she'll end up relying on non-normal ways to communicate.

But with children who are just "special needs" lowercase - they can very well grow up and never ever have to struggle with what their parents are considering "special needs" right now.

I say "loose" boundries because I think that there are temporary issues that are considered special needs at the present and that the child will not grow up with them - namely things like reflux which requires extreme changes now but the child may not suffer from them as an adult.






Ok - I tried to say it nicely but I can't - I don't consider "gifted" special needs.
post #7 of 92
Quote:
Originally Posted by 4imprints
I also think there is a difference between "special needs" and "Special Needs". Although I think that sometimes the "two standard deviations" is too stringent I also think that they are necessary.

Ok - I tried to say it nicely but I can't - I don't consider "gifted" special needs.
Okay, you say that two standard deviations from the mean are "Special Needs" Why not two standard deviations in any direction?

-Angela
post #8 of 92
Thread Starter 
Quote:
I think you have a great attitude with your dd! Kids should be treated as normall as possible and not see themselves as having special needs except where they need some extra help. I have see parents who actually hold their kids back because they think they can't do something,
I try to have a good attitude - having a crappy one won't help things, will it? LOL! Though I do find I sometimes hold her back when she's perfectly capable of doing something - most of the time though I let her explore things on her own b/c despite it all, she's very independant.

I do understand what some of you are saying about sn's and SN's differences. In a way, all my kids have special needs - they all receive speech therapy for one reason or another. At the same time, since my four siblings and I also had ST, I don't think it's all that special, just normal for our family. And while some people might want to classify my oldest as having some sn's, I don't see it. He's got his quirks, and I've had to get more than creative in dealing with them, but his quirks have been due to being too smart for his own good - and I mean that seriously. He could understand adult conversations, but emotionally was still a small child, so couldn't always process things well. Like when he was four, we were driving someplace and dh and I were discussing his uncle's case about tire tread seperation. Later that day, our ds refused to get into the car. When I asked why, he wanted to know if we had the good or bad tires. So when Sept. 11th happened (and dh traveled a lot for business back then, and had flown out of Boston the week before), we basically kept him ignorant of it all b/c he would have understood too much. As he's gotten older, it's gotten better b/c he's catching up emotionally, but we still have times where we have to explain things to him in detail.

Okay, rambling...

But as for my dd, it's almost as if the older she gets, the more special needs she becomes. At the same time though, there are bits of normalcy that shine through, like her love of shoes or carrying a little purse about. And it's not like she needs special care, just a little more attention to what she's doing to ensure she doesn't hurt herself (though I could say the same thing about my 8 yr old daredevil!)
post #9 of 92
I also agree that there are "special needs" and "Special Needs". Lowercase sn to me is having to make some moderate adjustments to what you thought you'd do, but in general, your children are healthy and within the typical range or above. Children with mental or physical gifts fall in to this category to me...yes, you have to adjust your expectations and behaviors some to encourage those gifts, but in general, you don't face thousands in medical/service bills, hundreds of hours of therapy, etc. I would also go as far as to include a mild delay in this category--something that can improve with a little extra work, but not significantly disabling or hindering to the child's development.

Special Needs with a capital SN to me is usually a medical or psychological condition requiring special intense care. There are usually services (or should be but a child is denied those services) and the issue significantly impedes development in one more more of the growth areas (social, emotional, physical, language, cognitive, etc.)


For example, I consider a child who is a bit shy but will warm up to people in an hour or so "sn" because the parents have to adjust the situation to allow for that extra warm-up time. But a child who over the course of weeks or months does not warm up to a routine social situation and is chronically unable to interact with peers and instead withdraws completely, stims, etc. to the extent that he exhibits serious social delays to be "SN"--that usually requires sensory and occupational therapy to even make manageable.
post #10 of 92
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Special Needs with a capital SN to me is usually a medical or psychological condition requiring special intense care. There are usually services (or should be but a child is denied those services) and the issue significantly impedes development in one more more of the growth areas (social, emotional, physical, language, cognitive, etc.)
And that's why my dd doesn't qualify for stuff - b/c there is no condition, no name, no label. No label = no great services. (Not that our EI program hasn't been wonderful - it has, and they are frustrated by my dd's situation too. Even with trying to pull strings, she doesn't qualify.)

I'd love to know who decides my daughter isn't "Special" enough to not qualify for language programs. We know a family through EI and b/c their child has a diagnosis of autism, they have gotten a TON of services, especially in the language department. And yet their child is far more advanced in all areas than mine. It's to the point that I've wished a couple times she could just be diagnosed as autistic so she could qualify for stuff. But she's not autistic and I don't want her to be, I just want her to be able to get the same services as other kids.

I hope that doesn't come across as horrible on my part - it's not that I'm jealous of moms with autistic kids, just the doors that open up for them (at least in this area.)
post #11 of 92
Thread Starter 
Quote:
For example, I consider a child who is a bit shy but will warm up to people in an hour or so "sn" because the parents have to adjust the situation to allow for that extra warm-up time.
That's my oldest. What makes it worse at times is my il's are all "in your face" sort of people and don't understand why he needs that warm-up time. My dad's side of the family however understood perfectly and let him be until he was ready - made for a MUCH more relaxing visit, let me tell you!
post #12 of 92
Quote:
Originally Posted by peekyboo
And that's why my dd doesn't qualify for stuff - b/c there is no condition, no name, no label. No label = no great services. (Not that our EI program hasn't been wonderful - it has, and they are frustrated by my dd's situation too. Even with trying to pull strings, she doesn't qualify.)

I'd love to know who decides my daughter isn't "Special" enough to not qualify for language programs. We know a family through EI and b/c their child has a diagnosis of autism, they have gotten a TON of services, especially in the language department. And yet their child is far more advanced in all areas than mine. It's to the point that I've wished a couple times she could just be diagnosed as autistic so she could qualify for stuff. But she's not autistic and I don't want her to be, I just want her to be able to get the same services as other kids.

I hope that doesn't come across as horrible on my part - it's not that I'm jealous of moms with autistic kids, just the doors that open up for them (at least in this area.)
See, now if your daughter had more than just a mild delay, I'd say she should qualify for services. That's part of the problem we had with Brandon--I had to fight for services, and pay for them myself because he was delayed (but not delayed "enough" because he didn't have the offiical autism label), and so he slipped through the cracks, and now his SC wants him to get that "official label". It does make me upset that the kids in the middle--the ones without mild delays but the ones without severe ones--are often left to their own devices. Many times I see them falling further behind until they finally do qualify--a child should never *have* to get worse to get help...
post #13 of 92
Quote:
Originally Posted by AllyRae
See, now if your daughter had more than just a mild delay, I'd say she should qualify for services. That's part of the problem we had with Brandon--I had to fight for services, and pay for them myself because he was delayed (but not delayed "enough" because he didn't have the offiical autism label), and so he slipped through the cracks, and now his SC wants him to get that "official label". It does make me upset that the kids in the middle--the ones without mild delays but the ones without severe ones--are often left to their own devices. Many times I see them falling further behind until they finally do qualify--a child should never *have* to get worse to get help...
: This makes me so mad I could just scream. This is exactly what we are fighting with our dd. We saw a ST a few months ago who pretty much told us that dd was delayed but to just come back in a 6 months and not worry about it yet. That just didn't feel right to us, and so we contacted EI for an evaluation, because we feel like we are really struggling with her. The guy at EI (who I won't go into detail about because I'll break the UA) pretty much told me that because of where she scored on the testing at the ST that she didn't qualify and just to call back in 6 months if she didn't start saying ANYTHING else. I absolutely insisted that I wanted an evaluation so he finally had someone else call me. The EI coordinator I talked to on the phone finally came to our house and brought along an educator with her. They both agreed that Anna most likely is somewhere on the autism spectrum, has alot of sensory issues and is much more delayed in her speech now. So she had to get "worse" with her speech by gaining a few months more in age before anyone would help! We've been asking for awhile if there was something wrong with her, because we couldn't quite put our fingers on it. We had to FIGHT for them to even evaluate her and when they did they were very apologetic and are now setting up multiple services for us (EI therapy, OT, ST, developmental ped, etc). If she was just a little less speech delayed she might have just slipped through cracks... Thats what would have happened if I had just gone along with the first ST's evaluation.
post #14 of 92
I am in the camp with the ideal of the big "S" Special Needs,which are the physical handicapp; blind, deaf, cerebral palsy, autism, etc.

And the little "s" special needs, when a child needs extra assistance with anything, be it dressing, eating, speech, motor skills, etc.
post #15 of 92
Quote:
Originally Posted by alegna
Okay, you say that two standard deviations from the mean are "Special Needs" Why not two standard deviations in any direction?

-Angela
Because, we're talking about pathology, when there's something WRONG, not when something is super-right. Two standard deviations above the norm puts someone in the top 2 percent of the population. To take the top 2% of athletes, and to call them "special needs" really diminishes the real issues facing the disabled population in the lowest 2% who cannot walk or use their arms. Yoiu could argue that these super-athletic children have "special needs," gifts that need to be fostered, they drive you nuts cause they always want to play catch, they are competitive and overly-driven, etc etc. But these complaints ring hollow in the ears of parents whose children have cerebral palsy, etc. Same with the top 2% socially, or intellectually. It just gets ridiculous after awhile and renders the term "special needs" meaningless.
post #16 of 92
As long as the term is special needs, not disabilities, then it includes both ends of the spectrum. I agree that if the forum was called "parenting children with disabilities" that the gifted threads would not belong there. But it's not. And special needs is not an exact synonym to disabilities. It includes disabilities. It also includes other special needs.

There is nothing in the fourm title (or the lable "special needs") that says something is wrong. It says that something is different.

-Angela
post #17 of 92
Thread Starter 
Quote:
If she was just a little less speech delayed she might have just slipped through cracks... Thats what would have happened if I had just gone along with the first ST's evaluation.
This also almost happened with a friend of mine. Her child "almost" qualified for ST, so the woman doing the eval fudged it slightly so that she would qualify for services instead of having to wait another 6 months.

My dd's delays are more than mild, but not horribly severe. She may be in the 1st percentile for expressive and receptive language skills, but she does get her point across when she wants to and is social and is not in her own little world. She does qualify for basic services through EI (though now she's moving on to ECDD (Early Childhood Developmentally Delayed) preschool), but extra services are out of our reach unless we fight for them. And even with fighting, she doesn't qualify. For instance, the school district holds three Hanen classes for parents of autistic kids. But they have yet to hold one for speech delays yet - I have to wait until September. That's since about March. Actually, I've been waiting since last year. Meanwhile, I try to do everything I can to get my dd to talk on my own at home, as her ST is suspended over the summer since they don't do therapies over the summer.

I did find out about a language clinic, I can see if dd qualifies, but am also prepared to hear that she doesn't qualify b/c she's not autistic (story of our year it seems.)
post #18 of 92
Thread Starter 
and because I'm a dictionary geek, I decided to look up the definition of "special needs"

This is from the Merriman-Webster site

Main Entry: special needs
Function: noun plural
: the individual requirements (as for education) of a person with a disadvantaged background or a mental, emotional, or physical disability or a high risk of developing one
- special-needs adjective

and from Wikipedia -

What does "special needs" mean?
For many people the term "special needs" means a child who receives or needs special education or who has a disability of some sort. In adoption, the term is defined differently and may include the factors listed below. Guidelines for classifying a child as "special needs" vary by State. Children with special needs range in age from infants to 18 years. In general, children with special needs are those who:

Have physical or health problems
Are older
Are members of ethnic or racial minorities
Have a history of abuse or neglect
Have emotional problems
Have siblings and need to be adopted as a group
Test positive for HIV
Have documented conditions that may lead to future problems
Were prenatally exposed to drugs or alcohol.
Almost all children who meet the special needs guidelines and who are available for adoption are currently in the public foster care system. Some have moved through several different foster placements.

And everything else is sort of like this.

Am I saying parenting gifted kids doesn't have challenges? Nope, not at all. I'm just saying that many of us may be viewing the term "special needs" in the socially accepted view - ie, kids with mental and/or physical issues that cause them to be behind their peers in one way or another.
post #19 of 92
I went and pulled the same definition. Problem is it's in regards to adoption. So according to this definintion every child over say 10 is special needs.


BUT this part is the general definition:
" For many people the term "special needs" means a child who receives or needs special education or who has a disability of some sort."

Gifted children need services classified under special eduation. There you have it.

-Angela
post #20 of 92
Quote:
Originally Posted by alegna
As long as the term is special needs, not disabilities, then it includes both ends of the spectrum. I agree that if the forum was called "parenting children with disabilities" that the gifted threads would not belong there. But it's not. And special needs is not an exact synonym to disabilities. It includes disabilities. It also includes other special needs.

There is nothing in the fourm title (or the lable "special needs") that says something is wrong. It says that something is different.

-Angela
I'm sorry, but this is really playing semantics. "Special needs" is the politically correct term for children with significant disabilities, not just a term to describe any child who might have a "special need" which can be interpreted so liberally as not to exclude ANY child, gifted or not. A recently bereaved child, or a child with a sore throat, or a child who has an occasional burst of temper could be described as "special needs" by your definition. And undoubtedly everyone at one time or other has a "special need" for increased attention, or medical care, or enrichment. That's not what we're talking about here.

This use of the term is common knowledge, and is considered a nicer way of saying disabled or handicapped. Just like the disabled community uses the term "typically developing" because it is preferable to saying "normal." I am surprised you did not know this.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Special Needs Parenting
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Mom › Parenting › Special Needs Parenting › What do you consider "special needs"?