le pois chiche & new permaculture friends!
The word "glance" in French

How to say "special needs person" in French?


Sharing for an abundant future. This post is for my belle-mère, Marsha, who recently welcomed a dear and cherished grandson, "Christian," born trisomique (Down's Syndrome).
Today we ask ourselves how to say "special needs person" in French? Meantime, here is a related word, learned recently while gardening with a group of special needs students in France:

minutieux (minutieuse)

    : careful, meticulous, fastidious

Soundfile: Listen to Jean-Marc read an excerpt from today's story: 
Download MP3 or Wav

Ensuite la venue de Pascal et son groupe du foyer Maurice Dujardin des personnes belles, touchantes et très minutieuses. Next came Pascal and his beautiful, touching, and meticulous group from the Maurice Dujardin center.


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE... by Kristin Espinasse

We left off, in the previous story, in a lush permaculture garden by the sea--where I was telling you about the arrival a mysterious French woman--une femme semencière!

Standing in a patch of pumpkins, she might have been the rebel rose trémière, those favorite flowers of mine--especially the rare ones with dark, coffee bean petals with heart-colored nuances, just like her shiny hair.....

  My new permaculture friend! Here with her daughter.

"Je m'appelle Laurence," the dark-haired woman said, reaching out to shake my hand. Though her features were delicate and lovely, I knew by the frank handshake that here was a person who could get right to the core of things, without complicating matters.

(Now's a good time to segue to the present moment, where I'm sitting at my keyboard wondering how to introduce the next heroes of our story: the group of special needs students who arrived soon after to participate in the seedgathering workshop. But how to say "special needs person" in French? ...

Rosie group
Sorting chickpeas at the workshop "Récolte ce que tu sèmes."

I leave you with Laurence's words, part of her garden journal which arrived in my mailbox soonafter the workshop ended.

Bonjour! (Hello!)

Nous revenons du jardin avec une plénitude totale...
We've returned from the gardin with a total abundance...
La découverte de la ruche et de nos nouvelles amies--quel bonheur !!
The discovery of a beehive and new friends--what happiness!!
Ce matin dès 10H nous accueillons Kristi et Cynthia deux americaines heureuses de nous rencontrer ENFIN... This morning around 10 we welcomed Kristi and Cynthia, two Americans that were happy to FINALLY meet us.

  A tamis, or sieve, to catch the seeds.

Ensuite la venue de Pascal et son groupe du foyer Maurice Dujardin des personnes belles, touchantes et très minutieuses.
Next came Pascal and his beautiful, touching, and meticulous group from the Maurice Dujardin center.
Damien, Sacha, José, Valérie, Jean-Pierre et moi même commençons l 'atelier avec des techniques de récoltes bien différentes et amusantes... Damien, Sacha, José, Valérie, Jean-Pierre and I began the workshop with unusual and amusing ways to harvest (seeds).
Thanks, Jean-Pierre Rossi of MOUVEMENT COLIBRIS for this photo. 

Damien who, along with Laurence, taught seedsorting to us students

BLOWING (on the husks) to KEEP only THE SEEDS...
Des Moments de douceurs et de partages, ainsi va la Vie !! 
Moments of sweetness and sharing, so goes Life!!
 *    *    *
Thank you very much Laurence, for this heartwarming note and to your father, José, to Damien, to Pascal and his big-hearted group. Thanks also to my friend, Cynthia, for coming with me!

French Vocabulary

trisomique = with Down's syndrome
une femme semencière = seedkeeper (or seedcarer) woman
la rose trémière = hollyhock
récolte ce que tu sèmes = harvest what you sow
le tamis = sieve
...and the opening photo reads:
la valise vivante = the living suitcase...
aux semences libres = with free seeds
libre d'échange = free to exchange
non HBF1 = non hybrid
oui à la vie reproductible = yes to reproductive life


Breizh, our 8-year-old golden retriever (and Smokey's mom)

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ahhhh, you have now combined my two passions in your posts car je suis prof de français qui pratique aussi l'agriculture biologique dans ma petite ferme à la campagne de la Pennsylvanie... merci! Je suis fana! Vive les semencières!


Hello there,

Special needs person = personne ayant des besoins particuliers OR personne ayant des besoins spéciaux. :)

Hope this helps!



Jennie Goutet

What a lovely blog you have Kristin! I'm not surprised at all, and can't wait to read your memoir. I got sidetracked by a bunch of free memoirs on the WLM Facebook group( which I think you are part of) and then by some Georgette Heyers which I re-read from time to time for comfort. :-)


Hello Kristin,
Since my wonderful female Boxer left us, last July 26th, I've been silent...
But I'd like to let you know that a "special needs person" can be translated into french : "auxiliaire de vie". He, or she, takes care of... and/or assists and/or helps a handicapped person all day(s) long and sometimes during the night(s) whenever this person is hospitalized in a special institute.
Hoping I could help.


This post goes straight to my heart. As the mother of a 44year old special needs daughter I appreciate any effort to expand their horizons. Merci beaucoup, chère Kristi!

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristin,
What a lovely post today! I enjoyed it so much and love all the photos! Have a wonderful weekend! I meet so many special needs friends when I pick up my meals for Meals on Wheels. They help deliver to homebound seniors and they are the sweetest people!

Jann feldman

I love your blog! I forward it to 3 grandchildren whom I am taking to France next summer!

Robin Katsaros

What a "heartwarming" blog! And was I the only one to "see a heart" in the very first picture with the hands holding the seeds, in my mind's eye the seeds in her hand wee in the shape of a heart....

Cynthia Gillespie-Smith

Kristi, my life was certainly enriched by spending a couple of hours with these incredible special needs people. All those beautiful, busy hands working together to help Les Femmes Semencières and ourselves and future generations by gathering productive seeds and sewing the seeds of awareness. Bravo à tous!

Pamela Harnois

I like your new blog format and it reads great on my iPhone. All your social media links at the bottom of your posting work fine for me too. Glad I am not having any issues :)


Hi Kristin,

French-Word-A-Day arrived fine after the change in carrier, but the email version does not show the title - it began with "How to say special needs person in French". Not sure if that is only at my end, but thought I'd mention it. You ask for 'corrections', so one for this column is the photo caption about Damien...it should say 'us students'.

Take care and best to your belle-mère...


I don't know how the buttons are working but I find that none of the photos can be opened in my email with this new distribution method. So I have to go online now to read the blog. Not a crisis but I did much prefer finding the whole thing..photos and all...in my email.

Art Moreau

Same issues here with the photos and the new email carrier. Also sending this from the web page as the typepad wouldn't open to Comments from the distribution.


Dear Kristin, I work with nonprofits in fundraising. One of the nonprofits that I work with is LuMind Foundation. I encourage you to go to their website (lumindfoundation.org). Their mission is "to stimulate biomedical research that will accelerate the development of treatments to significantly improve cognition, including memory, learning and speech, for individuals with Down syndrome." You will find resources and information there that you can share with your relatives. Quite a bit is being done right now. Best to you and your family, Frances in Napa, California

Faye Stelly

Bobbi & I have same problem w/ your blog...can't get pictures on in email & must go online.
Loved this post! And note from Laurence...get to practice my French!
Thank U.

Gordon Lyman

Beautiful post today, Kristi, from your beautiful heart.

joie in carmel-by-the-sea

Had the issue with the photos and comments, but hit the contact button, and viola, an hour later tout c'est bon. Love the bit about the seeds and the children. For the language, today I learned the word "ruche" meaning beehive. Makes sense to me why they call it 'ruching" in dresses, especially the wedding dresses. I also learned more, but that was one of those ah-ha moments. Have a lovely week-end. Daughters of two of my friends have Down's children. What they need most is love, understanding and acceptance. The physical and mental education become so much easier.

Anne Irons

Reading this post today added to my joie de vivre! Charming and beautiful photos!

Heather in Arles

What a lovely post to have arrived directly in my mailbox! Merci Kristi pour tous...

Georgia from Northern CA

Bonjour Kristin!

Thanks for your heartwarming post today! It touched me deeply as the grandmother of 3 year old Lain, a child who has Down Syndrome, and is a delight in every way! His arms are forever held out to me for hugs when I visit. The smile on his face says everything. And I must not forget his big protective brothers, Kellen and Cairn, who are just as wonderful!

To Marsha and your family: Congratulations! As we watch Lain grow up, every step seems even more amazing than the last. There is no time table for these special children. They progress on their own terms. May you enjoy the journey!

Best wishes, Georgia

P.S. Our family will be participating in the Club 21 Walkathon in Pasadena, CA. on October 25th. This organization supports children with Down Syndrome and their families. Should you wish more information about the work they do or wish to support the Lain Train Team, you can google Club 21.

Barry from Alabama

Kristin, congrats on the new site!

We are harvesting the first fruits of your website planting!

So many benefits from that garden gathering. I am guessing the folks there just had the best day.

Many hands make small work.

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Georgia! And to all who have written in with encouraging words for my family or my newsletter transitions :-) wishing you a wonderful weekend and see you on Wednesday with another update.

june furey

Thank you Kristin for writing about your wonderful day with your new friends who shared the experience of seed gathering. Isn't life rewarding when you realise how the simplest activities can impart so much joy into our life merci ami artiste June

Angela Bellante

Bonjour Kristin,
Thanks for the switch over without a problem.
I love reading your stories and learning new phrases and words in French.

Zoe Willet

"...to we..."? Please!

Geraldine Ventura

A beautiful episode in your stories of the French life. In the USA as you may well know, we offer many programs for those with disabilities . Thank you for sharing this story which told us of the love shown in France.

Linda Casey

Yes, mine got lost in the spam file too. Hmmm a special needs person used to be considered disabled, handicapped, invalid .. or even retarded. I guess we'll just have to come up with a less socially demeaning label for them ... or maybe just not label them at all. That would be a novel idea.

Julia Frey

In France. to be politically correct, a 'special needs person' is 'une personne à besoins spécifiques'.


Kristin, Your caption "...who taught seed sorting to we students" should be "to us students" -- or better yet, "to us, his students." (You just need to say the phrase out loud to know whether "us" or "we" is correct. For example, "he taught us" (not "he taught we").


Hi Kristin! I am not sure that here in Québec one uses the term 'special needs'. I hear more specific terms such as 'non voyant, malentendant, à mobilité réduite, ayant une déficience intellectuelle'.


Kristin, thank you for such a beautiful post.
(It all came in email, no problem.)

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