Skip to main content

Children With Special Health Care Needs


Children with special health care needs include those with chronic illnesses (i.e., asthma, sickle cell anemia, diabetes), physical disabilities (i.e., cerebral palsy, spina bifida), and developmental/emotional disabilities (i.e., autism, Down syndrome). As advances in health care have allowed medically fragile and/or disabled children to live longer, attention has focused on understanding their unique "developmental" needs. The impact of an illness or disability on a child's cognitive, social, and emotional development varies over time as the child's developmental level changes. In addition, the implications of the illness/disability are different depending upon the child's developmental level at its onset and the limitations of the disorder at each level of development. Professionals who work with children with special health needs must keep the above in mind, and must also understand the effects (both negative and positive) of the illness/disability on the family system, and how these in turn can affect the child's development.



McPherson, Merle, Polly Arango, Harriette Fox, et al. "A New Definition of Children with Special Health Care Needs" (commentary). Pediatrics 102 (1998):137-140.

Thompson, Robert, Jr., and Kathryn Gustafson. Adaptation toChronic Childhood Illness. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 1996.

Janeen C.Manuel

Elizabeth C.Allen

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Children With Special Health Care Needs." Child Development. . 23 Jan. 2019 <>.

"Children With Special Health Care Needs." Child Development. . (January 23, 2019).

"Children With Special Health Care Needs." Child Development. . Retrieved January 23, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.