Language is often something that is debated in the disability community. Do we use the term “Disabled”, or do we use “Special Needs”? Should someone be shunned or shamed because they prefer to use one term over the other? Is there too much emphasis on the language and not enough focus on allyship and effecting change together as one group?

In this episode, Annette brings back mom and author Julie Falcone to discuss how to talk to a special needs family. The language debate of using the terms disabled versus special needs and allyship and how to invoke change.

Julie starts off the podcast with a few tips and highlights from her recently released book “DEAR LOVED ONES: An Honest Guide to Helping the Special Needs Family You Love”.  Julie humorously offers ways to respond to family members and friends that may mean well but often comment or offer “advice” that may come across as uncaring or hurtful.      

Language Debate

The language debate is something that Annette has brought up in various podcasts and blogs in the past.  Medium had a great article recently also on this topic called “An Open Letter to Parents Who Use the Term “Special Needs”” .  Annette and Julie discuss their views using Disabled versus Special Needs within the community and how we use language as “labels”.  Julie says, “I feel like there’s a lot of emphasis on the right and wrong way to say things, when in reality we’re all on the same page, we all want the same things.” 

We also all want change within many disability areas including laws, regulations, and benefits. But, we need to realize we are all stronger together rather than pushing ahead to effect change alone.  If we can come together as a group, ally together, we can make changes happen.  If there is a problem or an issue, don’t feel you have to handle it alone.  Annette says, “Let’s get together and see what we can accomplish!”  and leaves us with the question – what are you doing to effect change?  


Let us know what you are up for, what you want, what you would love to do, what one thing you would love to change?  Send us your comments or questions here at Special Needs Companies  – let’s talk and ally together!


Annette would also love you to join her Circle of Care Facebook group.  The Circle of Care group serves to bring together members of the special needs community – parents, siblings, caretakers, professionals, advocates etc, to share stories, ask questions and offer support.  Every Wednesday at 6pm ET the group hosts a Facebook Live discussion with guest hosts speaking on various special needs topics. Please reach out to us if you would like to be a Circle of Care Guest Host  or a Parenting Impossible Podcast Guest! 

Listen to the full episode here!

Annette Hines has been practicing in the areas of Special Needs, Elder Law, and Estate Planning for more than 20 years. Ms. Hines brings personal experience with special needs to her practice and podcasts as the mother of two daughters, one of whom passed away from Mitochondrial disease in November 2013. This deep, personal understanding of special needs fuels her passion for quality special needs planning and drives her dedication to help others within the special needs community.