An Open Letter on Behalf of Those with Special Needs

PRESS RELEASE - Atlanta - With the coronavirus sparking world-wide panic and national emergencies across the globe, we cannot ignore the danger that lurks in not helping those with special needs.

“Special needs” is defined as an individual with a mental, emotional, or physical disability; individuals with special needs may need help with:
-          Communication
-          Movement
-          Self-care
-          Decision-making

It goes without saying that all four of these are critical in helping prevent the spread of COVID-19. Protection for those in nursing homes and hospitals are regularly talked about in the media, but we must not forget the most vulnerable population and one regularly overlooked: those special needs.

Many individuals with special needs are unable to:
-          Speak up for themselves
-          Self-check for symptoms
-          Communicate if they think they may have a fever or feel sick
-          Wash their own hands
-          Prevent the spread of germs
Whether the diagnosis is autism, Down’s syndrome, spina bifida, Cerebral palsy, epilepsy, a traumatic brain injury, or one of the hundreds of other ailments that results in special needs, we must do what we can to support and help them, their caregivers, and their families to keep everyone healthy. Recognizing this max multiplier can save lives.

Those with special needs face an increased risk of:
-          Contracting COVID-19
-          Vulnerabilities in physical and mental health
-          Emotional trauma
-          Disruption in routines that can be nearly impossible to regain
-          Behavioral issues that can greatly impact their own health as well as the well-being of caregivers and family members

Families and caregivers should:
-          Look out for changes in behavior
-          Consult with the individuals’ specialists, occupational therapists, and primary care physicians
-          Have contingency plans in place
-          Seek help and support from any of the thousands of non-profit organizations aimed at specific medical conditions

We can all offer assistance and understanding to special needs families to help during these uncertain times. Making it a priority to protect those who are left behind is a way to protect everyone.

How we can all help:
-          Support special needs families with words of encouragement
-          Volunteer for local organizations that help those with special needs
-          Vote for legislation that helps the special needs communities
-          Be a voice for those who are non-verbal
-          ASK how you can assist – the special needs world needs you!

Photo provided by Y.A.N.A Facebook 

Rick Knight in an author of four books on special needs financial literacy and is the founder and Chief Servant Officer at Servant Financial Group, a financial services firm dedicated to providing financial planning solutions to the special needs community. His initiative - Y.A.N.A. Nation - aims to raise funds for the special needs community and target financial education, financial inclusion, and economic empowerment. 

Rick has hosted is own financial advice radio show, been a financial contributor to Black Enterprise Magazine, created and taught his own financial literacy curriculum at both the high school and university level, including Georgia State University and the Atlanta Job Corps.

A proud veteran of the United States Army, Mr. Knight currently serves as a citizen sheriff with the Fulton County Sheriff’s Department.