What Is Special Needs? - Definition, Types & Law

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  • 0:03 Definition & Types of…
  • 1:24 Special Needs Laws
  • 3:31 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Janell Blanco
There are laws that protect individuals with special needs. This lesson will define special needs, identify the types of special needs, and the laws that protect the individuals.

Definition & Types of Special Needs

Imagine Brady is eating lunch with his friends when he observes a woman using sign language to converse with someone that looks like a nurse or caretaker. He then observes the caretaker slap the woman. Shocked, Brady knows the violence is wrong. But, what should he do? He knows the woman has special needs, and there are laws that protect individuals with special needs. Brady decides to call the police and reports the incident to law enforcement.

First of all, what exactly is meant by the term special needs? Special needs is defined as an individual with a mental, emotional, or physical disability. An individual with special needs may need help with:

  • Communication
  • Movement
  • Self-care
  • Decision-making

The woman in the example is hard of hearing, but may have other disabilities as well. However, since she needs help communicating, she would be considered a person with special needs. Other types of special needs include:

  • Autism
  • ADHD
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Down syndrome
  • Emotional disturbance
  • Epilepsy
  • Reading and learning disabilities
  • Intellectual disabilities
  • Pervasive developmental disorder
  • Speech and language impairments
  • Spina bifida
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Visual impairments

Individuals with disabilities or special needs may require special care. To ensure their safety, several laws have been enacted into government.

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