What are Special Needs?
People with Special Needs are individuals who need extra help or care because of conditions such as Intellectual delays (ID for short), behavioral, emotional, or physical difficulties, deaf or hard of hearing, Autism, blindness, or learning disabilities (pertaining to reading, language or mathematic problems) for example.
People with Special Needs are customers as well.
Sometimes it is easy to see that a customer has special needs, for example, if they are in a wheelchair. But sometimes it is not as easy to see what the special needs are of some customers.
Some Examples that a customer could have a special need if they exhibit:
- Difficulty in reading or doing mathematics
- Confusion, hesitation
- Extra quiet, not communication well
- Rocking back and forth
- Flapping hands in excitement
What is Stimming?
This is a behavior is known as Stimming or self-stimulatory behavior which is the repetition of physical movements, repeating sounds, words, phrases seen in individuals with developmental delays, including Autism Spectrum. This can include rocking back and forth, hand flapping, pacing, snapping fingers, for example. This happens when a person is excited or stressed and it make them feel calmer. These behaviors are not harmful and can be addressed by kindly ignoring the behavior and speak gently to your customer to assist them.
Giving Great Service to the Special Needs Population
A business can gain a loyal clientele by giving great service to everyone, including customers with special needs. It takes recognizing that a person needs extra assistance if they have special needs, along with a big smile and kindness so the customer feels welcome! The added attention that a business offers to the customers will enhance the reputation of the establishment as well.
What is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD?)
This is a developmental disorder that affects a person’s communication and emotional and behavioral abilities. There is a wide variation in symptoms from mild to severe. Some individuals can have sensitivity to light, sounds and maybe even temperature.
A high functioning level of Autism. These individuals often have high IQ’s but still have social anxiety issues.
What are Reading Disorders?
Some reading difficulties can range from poor comprehension or having a hardship sounding out words for example. Even some very intelligent people can have some reading problems.
*NOTE | You might suspect your customer has a reading problem if they might be reluctant to read a menu for example stays extra quiet or is confused. Assist your customer by just making suggestions verbally, be kind and helpful.
* NOT ALL customers with special needs have reading difficulties and some can be very good readers!
What are Mathematical difficulties?
Some individuals can have problems with math facts, counting money for example.
*NOTE | Some customers might need assistance at the register, handling their debit or credit card too for example in processing. Be patient, show them the price, how to use the machine.
What are Emotional and Behavioral difficulties?
Some people can have anxiety, impulsive behavior, be overactive for example.
*NOTE | If a customer becomes nervous or emotional, reassure your customer by speaking softly and kindly to make them feel comfortable at your establishment.
Working with customers with special needs is very rewarding!
You are the best person to put your customer at ease, make them feel welcome!