Specific Needs Understanding: Individuals With Disabilities


According to the WHO, disability is “an umbrella term, covering impairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions” (Disabilities 2015). It is a “complex phenomenon” that includes characteristics of an individual and the peculiarities of the society he/she lives in (Disabilities 2015).

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According to the ICFHD classification, disability is an umbrella term that involves such aspects as the body, activity, and society (WHO 2007).

The primary standard definition of disability is as follows: disability is a physical and/or mental impairment of a person that restricts his/her activity (WHO 2007).

The second standard definition is as follows: disability is the persistent health condition that limits an individual’s activity and ability to function within society due to some peculiarities of this society (WHO 2007).

The Medical model focuses on two aspects mentioned above, body and activity. However, it fails to cover an important social aspect that has diverse effects on disability.

The secondary model includes analysis of the social aspect and, hence, all the stakeholders (healthcare professionals, social workers, disabled people, officials, and so on) should use both models when dealing with disabilities.

It is necessary to note that these concepts affect disabled individuals, and the way services are provided. These definitions influence the way societies to see disabled persons and the way professionals develop services for such people. More so, disabled people’s ideas about themselves and the roles they can play in society are also shaped.

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Disability Overtime

Remarkably, the attitude towards disability has changed numerous times throughout centuries. In ancient times, certain illnesses (especially such mental disorders as epilepsy) were seen as a “positive divine intervention” (Burch & Nielsen 2015, p. 95). Such people were respected. During the Middle Ages, this disease, as well as other mental impairments, was seen as the sign of possession (Burch & Nielsen 2015). Such ill individuals were burnt as witches and wizards. Even physical features (a hump, blindness, and so on) were regarded as a punishment for sins or a sign of some contacts with the evil.

However, the development of science and medicine shed light on the nature of many disorders, and disability acquired the meaning, which is still utilized. Thus, it is seen as an impairment that should be treated. Importantly, in the second part of the 20th century, educational disabilities came to the fore. For centuries, these disabilities (ADHD, dyslexia, dysgraphia, language impairment, and so on) were regarded as features if individuals or their unwillingness to study. Now, students get a particular treatment if they are diagnosed with an educational disability.

It is noteworthy that the attitude towards disabled individuals in the 20th century was quite specific. They received treatment, but they were largely neglected. The society did not want to accept such people. At the end of the 20th century and in the 21st century, various professionals started trying to integrate disabled individuals into society. Disabilities are often seen as features rather than disorders. Disabled persons are now able to get employment and become a part of their community. Unfortunately, this is true for developed countries mainly.

Needs of People Specific Needs

Like any person, individuals with disabilities must satisfy certain needs to be happy or, at least, to operate properly. Nonetheless, these people often have more needs to satisfy. Maslow’s hierarchy can help identify these peculiarities. First, it is necessary to note that the hierarchy is represented in the form of a pyramid with lower-order and higher-order needs (DuBrin 2011). The higher-order needs are similar for individuals with specific needs and the rest of individuals while the lower-order needs are somewhat extended. The basic level includes physiological and biological needs. Thus, people cannot live without air, food, drinking water, sleep, sex, and so on. At that, individuals with specific needs may require particular medication or facilities (a wheelchair, hearing apparatus, inhaler, and so on) to remain active or even alive. The next lower-order level is safety. People need shelter, stability, order, and so on. Apart from these elements, persons with special needs also require additional laws and regulations that will ensure their security.

As for the next level, love needs, all individuals irrespective of their features need friendship, love, intimacy, and so on. Apparently, individuals with special needs also should feel the support of their relatives, friends, and close ones. Esteem needs are also the same for all people as everyone wants to be respected and achieve something in his/her life. More so, persons with special needs may want this desperately as they feel they fall out in many instances (are unable to achieve some things in particular spheres). Finally, self-actualization involves self-fulfillment and personal growth. Again, persons with special needs usually want this to obtain balance in their lives. When caring for these individuals, it is vital to take into account all the needs mentioned above to make sure that the person is satisfied and even happy.

Charitable Organisations

It is possible to state that governments in developed countries do a lot to help individuals with specific needs. There are various laws that ensure that these people will enjoy their rights to the fullest. Nonetheless, it is not enough as some needs are not met. The non-governmental system, including various charitable organizations, often fills this niche. These agencies help people meet all of their needs (both lower- and higher-order). For instance, AGE UK focuses on helping elderly persons. This assistance includes the provision of information and training that enables elderly people to live in their homes in the communities (What we do 2015). Besides, these organizations also help persons with specific needs to meet their higher-order needs as they often encourage the elderly to participate in various activities, which results in the formation of links among people. Some charities focus on meeting the higher-order needs. For example, Macmillan is one of these organizations. It helps individuals cope with various psychological and social issues (About us, 2015). These individuals become integrated into society, and they are happy as they have friends, and they achieve a lot. They stop thinking about their health issues and features as they focus on their present lives. It is noteworthy that some organizations help many people in the UK as well as abroad.

Services Evaluation

Like any other borough, Redbridge has various programs aimed at solving numerous issues found in the community. One of these incentives is Joint Commissioning, which is “a strategic approach,” in which “partners across education, health and social care plan and work together to deliver more personalized and joined-up services” (A quick guide to joint commissioning 2015, para. 1). This can be seen as a holistic and efficient strategy. The plan involves attention to all spheres of people’s needs. Thus, children with special needs get care from educators, social workers, healthcare professionals (if necessary), parents, and so on. Again, this ensures that all the needs will be met. Children can feel a part of the community as they study in classes with the rest of the people. Of course, they understand that they are rather special as they have to use some devices or take some medication as well as keep cautious. Nonetheless, they are fully integrated into society, and they feel the support of people. All levels of needs receive the necessary attention and, hence, these children have all chances to be happier and more satisfied.

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Intervention is a strategy aimed at reaching some goals. However, these goals differ from area to area. For instance, for an educator, intervention is a particular strategy “designed to teach or remediate an academic” skill (Raines 2010, p. 221). For instance, if a child has a reading disability, the teacher can come up with a particular intervention to help the student. This intervention will include additional instructions to the child, corrections that help him/her come up with the correct answer. The key to success is a holistic approach, and the educator should address social workers and parents as well. The teacher should provide instructions to these people who will also help the child cope with his/her learning issue. As far as a social worker is concerned, this professional focuses on behavioral change rather than academics.

Thus, the intervention will mainly include discussions with some psychological tests. Some training strategies (improving self-esteem) will also be a part of such interference. When it comes to a healthcare professional, this practitioner’s intervention may include the prescription of some medication and particular training sessions. For parents, intervention is also a plan that may include the provision of medication, assistance in completing tasks, doing particular training exercises, and so on. Importantly, the success of any intervention depends on the areas it will cover. If the intervention is implemented in one area (by an educator without the inclusion of parents, social workers, and healthcare professionals if necessary), it is likely to be ineffective.

Technology and Disability

It is possible to state that technological advances have changed the way people with specific needs can be integrated into society. There were times when such persons had only limited alternatives. Centuries ago, there were some kinds of wheelchairs, some simple devices to improve sight and hearing, and so on. In the 20th century, people managed to develop more sophisticated devices. However, at present, individuals with disabilities may benefit from the use of assertive technology. Thus, there is software that enables students with specific needs (sight, hearing, and so on) to perform at the same level as any other student (Getz 2012).

I believe technological advancement is the key to the complete integration of persons with disabilities into society. It is evident that scientists, IT professionals, healthcare practitioners, and researchers will develop new strategies, devices, software that will help diminish the effects of the particular features people may have. Without this technological assistance, persons with specific needs will be neglected and will inevitably alienate themselves from the rest of society. This will bring misery to people and tension in society. It can even result in the rise of criminal activity as some people may commit crimes due to their inability to be fully integrated into the society (have friends, get a job, create a family, and so on).

The Department of Health

The Department of Health provides the following definition of individuals with specific needs. A person with disabilities is the one who has a “physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities” (Definition of disability under the Equity Act 2010).


Like any other professionals, people working in health and social care organizations face particular challenges. These challenges may have a significant impact on the service provided. For example, the frustration of carers is a frequent issue as people may often feel frustrated due to their experiments. They often assist patients with terminal illnesses and impairments that restrict the patient’s activity considerably. Patients suffer and maybe nervous and mean to the carer. Carer frustration may result in his/her unwillingness to continue providing care. Work-related stress is a similar problem as healthcare professionals may feel stressed out, and this leads to frustration, depression, reluctance to provide high-quality services.

The shortage of staff is another frequent issue that may negatively affect the well-being of persons with disabilities. Thus, fewer professionals are available, and fewer services are provided to fewer patients. Patients’ needs may be unmet, and this leads to dissatisfaction, frustration as well as particular health conditions (depression, heart diseases, and so on). Damages to property, which is almost inevitable, lead to additional financial input. However, in many cases, healthcare units, as well as families, have scarce budgets. As a result, people with disabilities have to use low-quality devices that negatively affect the healing process or the process of integration into society.

Reference List

About us 2015, Web.

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A quick guide to joint commissioning 2015, Web.

Burch, S & Nielsen, KE 2015, ‘History’, in B Reiss & D Serlin (eds), Keywords for disability studies, NYU Press, London, pp. 95-98.

Definition of disability under the Equity Act 2015, Web.

Disabilities 2015, Web.

DuBrin, A 2011, Essentials of management, Cengage Learning, Mason.

Getz, L 2012, ‘Assistive technology for people with disabilities’, Social Work Today, vol. 12, no. 5, p. 40.

Raines, JC 2010, ‘Evidence-based school social work practice and response to intervention’, in JP Clark & M Alvarez (eds), Response to intervention: a guide for school social workers, Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 208-232.

What we do 2015, Web.

WHO 2007, International classification of functioning, disability, and health, WHO, Geneva.

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