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5 Ways Of Encouraging Special Needs Individuals

5 Ways Of Encouraging Special Needs Individuals

Friends and family members, instead of encouraging special needs individuals, are often overly protective. They realize that their loved one faces overwhelming challenges every day. But are they doing them a disservice? Individuals with special needs need to be challenged, they need to be encouraged to face those challenges and become more independent.

Here is a short list of 5 ways to encouraging special needs individuals:

  1. Stop making decisions for them. Start giving the individual choices and encourage them to make their own decisions. You can guide the individual if necessary, but let them choose or feel that they made the decision and they will soon realize that their opinion counts and they have some control.
  2. Identify strengths. Find their strengths and abilities, interests and skills. What is the individual good at? What skills or subjects interest them and would motivate them? Encourage and build on these strengths and design activities that utilize those strengths.
  3. Encourage the individual to speak for himself. Encourage self-advocacy, to speak up, make decisions, practice problem solving and understanding rights and responsibilities. If strangers talk around the individual or to you, encourage those strangers or acquaintances to speak TO the individual which will promote their self-esteem and self-awareness. Encourage conversation, find topics that hold interest and “level up” raise or lower yourself to eye level which makes conversation easier. Make the conversations fun, one of the best motivators to encourage someone to listen and communicate.
  4. Find positive role models with disabilities. Individuals with special needs need to meet individuals with disabilities who have become successful in life which will promote the idea that “If they can do it, I can do it!” Encourage the idea of a positive future based on the accomplishments of those with similar special needs.
  5. Encourage friendships and social networks. Many individuals with special needs have a difficult time establishing friendships and social connections. Find ways to involve the individual in social activities, groups, and gatherings. Build your own network of families of those with special needs and encourage and build from this base.

In summary, remember to avoid speaking for the individual and encourage independent thought and independence through self-expression and self-advocacy. Build friendships, social and support networks and associate with positive and successful role models. Stop doing everything for the individual, especially those activities that he or she can do for themselves.


Special Strong provides fitness and nutrition for special needs children, adolescents, and adults with autism and other disabilities. Through our online training platform, we also provide special needs fitness certification courses for personal trainers and service providers who want to work autism and other disabilities.

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