special needs

plural noun

: any of various difficulties (such as a physical, emotional, behavioral, or learning disability or impairment) that causes an individual to require additional or specialized services or accommodations (such as in education or recreation)
students with special needs
special-needs adjective
or special needs
special-needs children
a special needs teacher

Examples of special needs in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The couple, who have been married since 2020, met in 2018 at the annual Night to Shine event, a worldwide prom for people with special needs. Natasha Dye, Peoplemag, 24 Nov. 2023 In Phoenix, 80 children were adopted in a single day, including 9-year-old Michelle, who has special needs. Eric Noll, ABC News, 22 Nov. 2023 Kids can receive testing accommodations, including extra time, for special needs. Vulture, 22 Nov. 2023 The link in his Instagram story leads to a medical website that sells helmets for people with special needs. Daysia Tolentino, NBC News, 21 Nov. 2023 Mental Help 365 received funding from UNICEF, the United Nations’ children’s fund, and gathered a team of specialists to provide psychological support to 1,657 children with special needs across the country. Maria Varenikova, New York Times, 21 Nov. 2023 Mocking viewers upset with his domestic violence joke by evoking special needs only added more fuel to the controversy. Zack Sharf, Variety, 21 Nov. 2023 Each American household with a special needs child suffers an annual income loss of around $18,000, the study found. Erin Prater, Fortune Well, 4 Nov. 2023 Upon retiring from restaurant ownership, Kraft continued helping special needs students by sharing her culinary skills. Jan Goldsmith, San Diego Union-Tribune, 2 Nov. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'special needs.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1899, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of special needs was in 1899

Dictionary Entries Near special needs

Cite this Entry

“Special needs.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/special%20needs. Accessed 4 Dec. 2023.

Medical Definition

special needs

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
Some urban homeschooled kids, particularly those with special needs, were previously enrolled in school but not served well there.Linda Perlstein, Newsweek
special-needs adjective
special-needs students
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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