Often, when a person hears the words ‘special needs’, what they picture is an individual who is completely incapable of living independently. The vision of a person confined to a wheelchair, unable to verbalize their desires, and needing to be spoon fed is a common negative misconception. In reality, the term ‘special needs’ refers to any person who needs accommodations in order to live and work independently in the community.
Lack of education about individuals with special needs, in addition to fear, is the main reason for this negative stereotype. Many people in the community do not understand these individuals. They’ve been brought up to think that these individuals are feeble minded and a strain on the community. They generally do not believe that people who have special needs are capable of having the same quality of life as any other person. Others are simply afraid. They are afraid of their sometimes different behavior, how they talk, and even their appearance.
Can people’s negative beliefs be changed and the quality of life for people who live each day with a special need be improved? The purposes of the articles that will appear in this column are to help do just that. In the coming weeks, topics involving intellectual disabilities, autism spectrum disorders, and education will be explored.