Monday 17 December 2018

Additional Needs versus Special Needs .... Which phrase do you prefer?

Additional Needs or Special Needs …. which phrase do you prefer?

Before we get into discussing the phrases, let's look at what these terms are defined as.

The Merriam Webster dictionary defines special needs as "any of various difficulties (such as physical, emotional, behavioural or learning disability or impairment) that causes an individual to require additional or specialised services or accommodations (such as in education or recreation.)"

The term additional needs is often defined as an indicator that a child requires extra support and/or services to enable them to be able to fully participate in education settings.

I will often refer to O and L as having additional needs as opposed to being special needs children and there is a reason why.

I truly believe that all children have their own unique special needs, regardless of whether they have a diagnosis of any description. All children are special in some way and the things that make them special, make them unique.

Are my children special? Yes they certainly are to me, their Dad and to those who love them for who they are. Are they considered special by other members of the community? There's a fairly big chance that the answer is big fat no! To the majority of society my children's needs are not considered special.

Do my children have additional needs when compared to their peers at school? Yes they do and I have no doubt that while their needs may change as they grow older, they will always have additional needs throughout their schooling. They both require support while at school, often more support than what their peers require. 

L needs frequent sensory breaks so that he can keep on track of what is required of him. O requires support to manage her anxiety that frequently crops up while at school. L requires one-on-one support when it comes to independent work. Both O and L have sensory processing difficulties and as such their teachers need to be aware that at times, O and/or L may enter into sensory overload from the environment around them and that they may require support when in sensory overload or at least some level of understanding from their teachers. O is working at a much higher academic level than some of her peers and as such she needs to be extended in her learning to keep her engaged at school. 

O and L require these additional supports to enable them to be able to fully participate in their own education. If they did not have these supports in place, I can only imagine the larger struggles that they would both have while at school.

In the schooling community children with additional needs are referred to as special needs students. There are support units within education departments that are known as Special Needs or Special Education Units. And this is fine with me. I am fairly certain that this will always be the case.

The two terms are interchangeable but know that if you are speaking with me about my children, I will often use the term additional needs.

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I would love to hear your thoughts on my blog. I do read all the comments that are posted. Thanks so much for stopping by. Jen xx