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May 2, 2023 in Down Syndrome

Do you know the difference between special needs children vs children with disability?

Most people usually use the term “special needs” and “disability” interchangeably thinking they mean the same thing. However, that is not the case. The two terms are not the same. Children who have special needs don’t necessarily have disabilities and vice versa. There is a lot of overlap between these two terms. If you are also unable to tell the difference between a child with special needs and a child with a disability, then today you have landed in the right place. In this article, we will tell you the difference between special needs children and children with disability so that you can put this matter to rest once and for all.

What does a child with special needs mean?

A child with special needs is a child with emotional, behavioral, or learning difficulties. In other words, a child with special needs requires special attention and specific necessities that other children don’t. It is important to note that it is not easy to identify a child who has special needs unless you interact closely with him/her. For instance, a child with autism has special needs but you cannot know unless you interact with the child.

Special needs children can do many things just like normal kids; it is only that they need special assistance when performing certain tasks. In most cases, special needs is about education disability. The child needs to be given special attention and assistance to enable him/her perform certain tasks.

The term “Special needs” has a softer sound, it is not as stigmatized as is the case with the term “disabled”. It does not sound like the child is crippled or walking in a wheelchair. With proper care and education, a child with special needs can live a normal, healthy, and happy life like other kids and reach their full potential.

Examples of children with special needs include:

  • Speech and language difficulties
  • Emotional, behavioral, and social difficulties
  • Learning difficulties (Attention-deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Dyslexia)
  • Multiple and profound learning difficulties
  • Multi-sensory impairment
  • Autistic spectrum conditions

What does a child with a disability mean?
Now that you know what a child with special needs means, now let’s focus on a child with a disability. A child with a disability is a child with a mental or physical impairment that has a substantial or long-term effect on his/her life. Disabled children usually need help in virtually everything they do. Their needs are complex and need close care and assistance. It is important to note that it is easy to identify a child with a disability because they are either injured, crippled, or incapacitated.

Unlike children with special needs who can improve with time, disabled children cannot change or improve their conditions. They live with their conditions for the rest of their life. Parents with children with disability need to accept that they cannot change the condition of their children and shoud give them love, care, and attention that they need.

Examples of children with disability include:

  • Long term learning difficulty
  • Development delay
  • Chronic illness or multiple health problems

What is the main difference between a child with a disability and a child with special needs?
Disability is more about mental and physical inabilities while special needs are more about learning disabilities. It is easy to identify a child who is disabled because they are usually crippled or incapacitated but is not easy to identify a child with special needs unless you interact with them. More so, children with special needs usually improve with time if they are given special care and assistance. However, very little can be done to change the condition of a disabled child. The only thing that parents and caregivers can do is shower them with lots of love and give them the care and assistance they need.

Final word
If you have been thinking that special needs and disability mean the same thing, we hope that you now know the difference. However, bottom line is that both children with disability and children with special needs require special assistance, love, and care from their caregivers. Once you notice that your child has special needs or has a disability, ensure that you take the necessary action as soon as possible. The earlier your child gets help, the happier he/she will be.

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