There are many conditions that fit under the term "special needs children." In the realm of foster care and adoption, emotional or physical disorders that are considered "special needs" can mean anything from age, an older child; or a minority race, to membership in a large sibling group. Other needs that point to what is considered to be special needs can be a history of abuse, or any other factor that contributed to the child's lengthy stay in foster care.
Special needs children often qualify for an adoption subsidy that allows adoptive parents more financial resources to help meet the needs of the children.
Guidelines for classifying a child as special needs vary by state.
Other common special needs conditions and diagnoses include:
- serious medical conditions
- emotional and behavioral disorders
- history of abuse or neglect
- medical or genetic risk due to familial mental illness or parental substance abuse
When a child that has been deemed a "special needs child" is adopted or in need of an adoptive home, that adoption is termed a "special needs adoption."