7 Positive Words For Special Needs That Are Inclusive & Empathetic To All

What can you say to someone who has been seizure free for months, but is now hospitalized after a break-through seizure? What can you say to someone with an intellectual disability who feels defeated and depressed as they struggle with tasks that seem so easy for others?

Sometimes it is difficult to know what to say to someone who feels like giving up because of an illness, disability or lifelong challenge. There are many situations where finding the right words to say feels impossible. Because of uncertainty, a common response to this situation is to avoid it altogether, and as a result, avoid the person.

Avoidance leads to the exclusion of that person who ends up isolated and even more discouraged. What I can tell you as a therapist is that most people do not avoid the situation because they are uncaring. Instead, they avoid it because they don’t know what to say and are afraid that if they say the wrong thing, they may inadvertently make the person in the situation feel even worse.

As a parent, family or friend of someone in this type of challenging or defeating situation, finding positive words that are inclusive and empathetic is imperative. But, knowing what positive words to say that send a supportive message is sometimes difficult.

The question I hear most often is, “What can I say that won’t leave anyone out or make them feel worse?”

Here are seven positive words for special needs that are inclusive and empathetic to all.

1.     “Believe in yourself. I believe in you.”

Probably the most impactful positive words for individuals challenged with special needs or disability is the message that you believe in their abilities. Especially when a child feels they are failing at something, it is important for them to know that someone believes in their ability to achieve the task.

2.     “Yes, you can.”

Hearing this message from others can keep one motivated. It is a big step when the person begins to internalize the message and say, “Yes, I can.” In doing so, they can repeat these positive words and block out all negative thoughts that try to interfere with their thinking.

3.     “When you’re having a tough day, remember you’re tougher. Storms don’t last forever.”

Everyone expects to run into rough patches in life. If you understand that life’s tough days are temporary, and won’t last forever, you can get through it. Positive words for individuals with special needs are important messages that remind us that difficult days are like storms that won’t last forever.

4.     “Move forward at your own pace.” 

It does not matter how fast or slow you accomplish something, just so you keep moving forward. Moving forward is to not give up. Use resources for motivation. Positive words for people with special needs is what keeps them motivated to try again until they succeed.

5.     “Trust yourself.”

You can start a new journey with each step forward. Even when it seems like you are getting nowhere, trust yourself to keep moving forward. Trust that you will learn from failures and mistakes along the way. Trust that these lessons will lead you to the knowledge you need to create the right path for you.

6.     “Being perfect is not required.” 

Judging yourself harshly does not help progress or motivation. Do the best you can do today and learn from each step you take along the way.

7.     “I am excited to see what’s next for you.”

These positive words send the message that you support this person unconditionally. Waiting and watching what is next for this person sends the message that you are there for them through their challenges and triumphs, all the way.

If you are a family member or friend trying to support someone with special needs due to mental health, physical or developmental challenges and need help expressing your message, come talk with Dr. Musarra.  Learn how to ask questions, support the person you love and send a positive message of confidence.  Positive words will let the person struggling accept your support and internalize your positive message.

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