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

Various sources told me that personalized learning, when aided by screens, is a bad fit for vulnerable students—those from low-income families, ethnic and racial minorities, kids with special needs, and English-language learners. E. Tammy Kim, The New Yorker, "The Messy Reality of Personalized Learning," 10 July 2019 For the past eight years, Chandler lived in China and served at a foster home for special needs kids. Jane Stueckemann, Houston Chronicle, "New school focused on special needs children to open in Oak Ridge North," 9 July 2019 Of Apple Tree’s 35,000 patients, about 87 percent are on medical assistance and many have special needs, said Mary Larkin, development and marketing director. Christopher Magan, Twin Cities, "With skilled workers hard to find, MN program helps companies train the workers they have," 5 July 2019 The alert means only that residents must be ready for potential evacuation and take steps to prepare family members with special needs, boats or ATVs, and pets or livestock, fire officials say. Zaz Hollander, Anchorage Daily News, "Hundreds of Fairbanks-area residents under precautionary wildfire evacuation alerts," 5 July 2019 The school, which opened in 2017, exclusively serves students with special needs. Eliza Shapiro, New York Times, "Why Some of the Country’s Best Urban Schools Are Facing a Reckoning," 5 July 2019 Holeve, ScentsAbility founder Bonnie Schmidt and special needs educator Nicole Whitman. Sergio Carmona, sun-sentinel.com, "Adults with disabilities share inspirational stories at Goodman JFS event," 4 July 2019 Some pupils with special needs will be exempt from the ban, including those who require telephones to monitor health conditions or those who have received permission from a teacher. Ella Hurworth, CNN, "Students banned from using cell phones at school in Australian state," 26 June 2019 She was inspired to devote herself to helping people after losing her father and sister – Jamesha Beard, a Butler High School student with special needs whose unexpected death led to an outpouring of support – within a six-month period in 2013. Lucas Aulbach, The Courier-Journal, "Public service pays off for Louisville's Congressional Gold Medal for Youth winners," 26 June 2019

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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Statistics for special needs

Last Updated

13 Jul 2019

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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

More from Merriam-Webster on special needs

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with special needs

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