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Cultural Views on Children with Special Needs

There are many views regarding children with disabilities and how to care for these children.  Parents who have to care for children with disabilities have to face many issues and problems in doing so.  Culturally throughout history, there has always been a stigma of having a child with a disability or special needs.  Many parents have found it difficult to care for a child with a disability or special needs due to cultural views of individuals with a disability.  But, over the years, society’s views on children with special needs have changed greatly due to advancements in medicine and increase in services that assist families with special needs children.

Prior to the 1980s, children with special needs were viewed by society as a plague and needed to put away.  Many parents who had children with special needs or disabilities would place their children in mental facilities or “crazy homes”.  In these mental facilities, the children were mistreated, abused by the caretakers, and were forgotten about.  Oftentimes, the families would place the special needs children in the care of a family member who would ensure that the child would not be seen in public.  Many parents felt it was best if they would place the child in a mental institution or in the care of a long distance relative, instead of, caring for their special needs child.  Also, the parents did not want anyone to know that they had a child that had a disability or was a special needs child.  But, around the 1980s, many laws were passed that ensured that individuals with special needs or disabilities would be treated in a humane and loving way.

After the 1980s, federal, state, and local governments passed laws and regulations that made it a crime to mistreat children with special needs.  Also, the cultural views of society began to change regarding children with special needs.  Society began to realize that children with special needs had something special to offer to society.  Individuals with special needs began to be seen as human beings and could function well like anyone else without a disability.  Cultural views began to change greatly because people began to realize that everyone has some form of handicap they are born with like having to wear glasses, unable to read, etc.  The cultural views have changed over the years concerning children with disabilities and society has been more acceptable of individuals with disabilities and special needs.

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