Those with special needs or disabilities are often one of the most marginalized and overlooked demographics in society. Individuals who struggle with disability often have less education, poorer health, and live below the poverty line. With over 1 billion people living with a disability worldwide, and more than 40 million of those in the U.S., the prevalence and consequences of disability are too great to be ignored.
As awareness of special needs continues to spread, it is important to equip both those with disabilities and those who interact with them with the tools they need to end harmful stigmas and help others live their lives to the fullest in spite of a disability.
When it comes to adults and children with conditions that require special needs such as autism, bipolar disorder, learning disorders, or physical disabilities, there has been a stigma associated with them. Coming from the Greek word “mark”, a stigma is a negative set of beliefs about a particular group. In most cases, this can be detrimental. However, in the case of those with special needs, this can be devastating.
Stigmatizing those with special needs or disabilities creates situations of discrimination, stereotyping, isolation, and even physical violence. This often begins at an early age in the educational system, as those with special needs are sometimes placed in separate learning modules. While this is often beneficial and necessary to facilitate learning, it can lead to a sense of isolation that damages the individual’s identity and sense of self-confidence.
The long-term consequences of these stigmas are also worth noting. For some, this hostile environment causes them to want to hide their condition, refusing to use assistive devices or seek medical help. For others, a disability can be a badge of honor, causing them to eschew treatment from a sense of pride.
Because of the effects that stigmatizing disabilities can have, it is important that we work to both end the practice of stigmas as well as protect and respect those who have been placed in our care with special needs.
The University of Washington provides several actionable things that can be done to combat the stigma and elevate those with special needs to a position where they feel comfortable. Here are some to note.
Always speak directly to the individual, even if there is a caretaker or interpreter in the room. Avoid talking about the patient as though he or she were not there or cognizant. Also, speak to adults with disabilities as you would speak to an adult without a disability. Do not change your speech or vocabulary to accommodate or draw attention to their disability. Lastly, avoid interrupting those who speak slowly or finishing their sentences.
You also want to adopt the same disposition that the individual carries about his or her disability. If they want to obscure or downplay their disability, ensure that you assist in that regard. Also, avoid using words that color the disability in a certain way.
Words such as “gift”, “suffer” or “tragedy” can shed light on how you feel about their disability, which can be harmful even with the best intentions. Lastly, telling a person with special needs how you would feel in their shoes is rarely a beneficial exercise. Each person is different as well as how they handle their impairment. Imagining yourself in an unimaginable situation often comes across as crass.
Ultimately, one of the most damaging approaches is to treat someone with special needs as though they were a child or a subject of pity. Giving them the respect they deserve and addressing everyone on equal ground is the first step toward creating a better atmosphere for those with special needs to get the help they need.
But that isn’t all—some people may find themselves responsible for the care of a person who has special needs. These individuals not only need to be mindful of the way they interact with their charge, but also how they plan for that person’s future if an unexpected event prevents them from receiving care.
For many people who look after the wellbeing of someone with special needs, there are often few others prepared to take over should the unfortunate happen. An unexpected death could result in extreme hardship for a loved one with special needs. For this reason, it is important for caretakers to plan ahead and provide financial protection in the case of a tragedy.
Life insurance is the best and most reliable way to ensure that your loved one will be cared for should you pass unexpectedly. With the right amount of coverage, you can create a financial safety net that will allow them to receive the care they need if you are no longer there to provide it.
Here at LifeQuote, we offer comprehensive life insurance plans that will help you secure the financial future of your loved ones with special needs. Our highly experienced agents will guide you through the process and connect you with a provider that meets your specific needs. Through us, coverage is available without a medical exam and benefits can be accessed while the insured is still living. Don’t leave the future of your loved ones up to chance, get started simply by contacting us today!