special needs

plural noun
Updated on: 12 Nov 2017

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

special-needs

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

Recent Examples of special needs from the Web

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.

First Known Use of special needs

1899


SPECIAL NEEDS Defined for English Language Learners

special needs

noun

Definition of special needs for English Language Learners

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


Medical Dictionary

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 PerlsteinNewsweek6 Feb. 2012

special-needs

adjective
    • special-needs students

Learn More about special needs


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up special needs? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

to buzz or drone

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Find the Cousins

  • a-large-tree-with-many-branches
  • Which pair shares a common word ancestor?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!