Special Needs Now

10 Wins for Kids with Special Needs in 2016

It turns out, 2016 was a good year for kids with special needs!

Phew! 2016 is almost over, and what a year it's been. This year brought innovations, opportunities, insights, and more for kids with special needs and their families.

Some of our favorite stories from 2016 were about parents who were inspired by their children's disabilities to make a change in the world. We talked to:

  • The dad who invented The Social Express, a fantastic computer program to help his autistic twins learn more about and practice tough social skills.
  • A visionary fashion-designer mom whose Runway of Dreams project worked with Tommy Hilfiger to start a line of adaptive clothing for kids with disabilities.

2016 also saw researchers working to make life better for kids with disabilities—from the doctor who's re-engineering toys for kids with mobility issues to the research lab that's working on a device to help anticipate autistic meltdowns.

Some retailers also worked to make their stores more accessible for people with disabilities—by doing things like offering quiet shopping hours—an initiative that I'm hoping will be picked up by many other stores in 2017!

This year we also got lots of much-needed insight into what it's like to have special needs. From a life-changing video about how it feels to be autistic to a spot-on video from a girl with Down Syndrome, these insights broadened perceptions and challenged assumptions.

And then we got to see more of kids with special needs in ads and on the runway—including the adorable Asher Nash, a toddler with Down Syndrome who just had his first professional photo shoot.

What a year! We hope that 2017 brings even more wonderful opportunities for kids with disabilities and their families.

Jamie Pacton lives near Lake Michigan, where she drinks loads of coffee, dreams of sailing, and enjoys each day with her husband and two sons. Find her at www.jamiepacton.com.