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

Federal officials have said repeatedly that only children without special needs were being sent to Tornillo. Garance Burke And Martha Mendoza, The Seattle Times, "US waived FBI checks on staff at growing teen migrant camp," 28 Nov. 2018 However, when Alice, her older sister with special needs, unexpectedly passes away, Lucy returns back to Nilson’s Bay, Wisconsin, to attend the funeral and handle her estate. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "9 Movies and TV Shows to Watch While You're Avoiding Family Over Thanksgiving," 18 Nov. 2018 Prior to her current position, Holland served as a special education teacher, implementing behavior systems and adapting general curriculum for students with special needs, according to the release. Staff Report, Aurora Beacon-News, "Two principals named for East Aurora schools," 25 May 2018 When Lord Baden-Powell sixth-graders went to the outdoor science school in March, the wheelchair, a Convaid Cruiser, was put to use by a special needs youngster from the Anaheim Elementary School District. Lou Ponsi, latimes.com, "Anaheim 6th-graders donate all-terrain wheelchair to San Gorgonio Outdoor Science School," 3 May 2018 Officials with Camp Barnabas, a special needs camp, are expecting about 120 MDA campers with the merge. David Frese, kansascity, "Families ask why Kansas camp for kids with muscular dystrophy was moved to Missouri," 9 Feb. 2018 For one mom of a special needs son, a hard day inspired her to share a powerful message about teaching kids to be kind. Carly Breit, Country Living, "Mom's Viral Post Urges Everyone to Teach Their Kids About Differences," 21 July 2017 Barlow has been part of the ballet's special needs program, Ballet Moves, a joint effort between Cincinnati Ballet and the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, for nearly four years. Sarah Schreiber, Good Housekeeping, "Boy With Down Syndrome Shatters Stereotypes By Joining the Cincinnati Ballet," 21 Dec. 2016 Some even posted photos of their special needs children to express their pain about hearing the R-word. Abby Gardner, Glamour, "Kim Kardashian Just Apologized for Using the R-Word on Her Instagram Story," 1 Nov. 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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Last Updated

14 Dec 2018

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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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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with special needs

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a knickknack or trinket

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