special needs

plural noun

Definition of special needs 

: 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

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Other Words from special needs

special-needs or special needs adjective
special-needs children a special needs teacher

Examples of special needs in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Barnes has been working at Drew Transition Center, which is a DPSCD school for 18- to 26-year-olds with special needs. Carol Cain, Detroit Free Press, "MSU-led internship program helps Detroit move forward," 14 July 2018 Serving children and adults with special needs since 2011. Mary Lou Cruz, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Sunrise area events July 18-28," 13 July 2018 As a result, the 2015 Neuqua Valley High School graduate became the first special needs member of her high school girls cross country team. Suzanne Baker, Naperville Sun, "Special Olympian from Naperville wins gold in national competition," 10 July 2018 The school serves 34 students between the ages of eight and 21 with special needs from five Maryland counties, most of whom have been diagnosed with autism, said the school’s principal, Mark Rapaport. Leah Brennan, baltimoresun.com, "Towson school begins fundraising for outdoor space designed for students with special needs," 10 July 2018 Children who have special needs may require tailored learning environments to thrive, and unfortunately, many traditional public schools simply don’t have the resources or expertise to provide these environments. Damar Services, Indianapolis Star, "A peek inside Indiana’s first charter school specializing in serving students with special needs," 10 July 2018 Hammond eliminated all low-track classes and then, to eradicate de facto ability grouping, carefully enrolled English Language Learners (ELLs) and students with special needs across the school’s classrooms. Valerie Strauss, Washington Post, "How one Maryland high school successfully boosted minority student enrollment in advanced classes," 10 July 2018 Both of Frederick’s twin 13-year-old daughters have special needs, but Shealyn can become mute in public. Kaitlyn Schallhorn, Fox News, "North Carolina mom 'moved to tears' by police officers' act of kindness toward daughter with autism," 6 July 2018 The zoo is also working on expanding its special needs and autism related programming and content, beginning with our Laugh and Learn program, a sensory program designed for children with autism. Anna Nguyen, Philly.com, "Elmwood Park Zoo introduces quiet space, programs for kids with autism," 5 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'special needs.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of special needs

1899, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of special needs was in 1899

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More Definitions for special needs

special needs


English Language Learners Definition of special needs

: mental, emotional, or physical problems in a child that require a special setting for education

special needs

noun plural

Medical Definition of special needs 

: 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, 6 Feb. 2012

Other Words from special needs

special-needs adjective
special-needs students

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