Rising Tide: How Solutions for "Special Needs" Solve Problems for All

The following concept is in early-stage development. If you would like to help influence its final design, please contact the team at Collaborata.


Nearly seven million children with “special needs” currently attend U.S. schools. Thirteen percent of all children in pre-K through high school are receiving special- education services for disabilities such as ADHD, autism, dyslexia, and physical and emotional needs. This percentage continues to rise.
Products and services designed for special-needs families have many benefits for those who are not special needs. This research will identify opportunities for product-innovation within the special-need community that can also be helpful to the general population.

Preliminary Objectives

  • Uncover the unique stressors and motivators for parents of special-needs kids that drive consumer behavior
  • Discover the services, events, and/or products that business could offer to make special needs families’ lives easier
  • Understand the shopping behaviors and brand preferences of special-needs parents in key categories
  • Compare the consumer preferences of families across disability categories
  • Profile these parents’ media and social media use in order to learn how to reach them efficiently and personally and reveal opportunities to apply this research to the general population


• Products and services for these exceptional kids and their parents and caregivers are developed with their more extreme sensitivities and needs in mind. Many of these sensitivities are also experienced in the overall population (although to a lesser degree). Developing products/services to satisfy the more intense requirements of kids with special needs and their families can help to build great products that would be welcomed by the general population.
• Companies can benefit by evaluating their existing products and services to identify how they may appeal to those with special needs, which would help to build brand goodwill and an ongoing relationship with these families.
• Many parents of kids with special needs are highly engaged with social media for resources and support. They often share stories online when they find a brand or have a commercial experience with a brand who “gets it.” Posts by these “influencers” are widely shared and sometimes even go viral.