When our daughter was diagnosed with significant developmental delays, the words used to describe her were "cognitively impaired and developmentally impaired (motor, speech, language, social)." We later were told she has autism.
We have tried to not use disability labels to define our daughter. Labels can be crippling. We also never say that our daughter has "special needs." This term is outdated and invokes pity, but it is plastered all over the place in our school system and community. Children or adults with disabilities are no more "special" than anyone else. We all have needs, don't we? One person is no more special than another. ALL people are special.