Support for children aged 0-25 with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities

What needs can my child receive support for?

There are four main areas of need and many children and young people will have needs in a number of these areas. Their individual needs may also change over time and teachers should respond and tailor their support accordingly.

The Graduated Response toolkits outline the expectations for provision in each of the four broad areas of need to meet the needs of children and young people at universal, SEND support and statutory levels - these toolkits are under 'related information'.

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Communication and interaction

Children and young people with speech, language, and communication needs (SLCN) have difficulty in communicating with others. This may be because they have difficulty saying what they want to, understanding what is being said to them or they do not understand or use social rules of communication. The profile for every child with SLCN is different and their needs may change over time.

Children and young people with autism are likely to have particular difficulties with social interaction. They may also experience difficulties with language, communication, and imagination, which can impact on how they relate to others.

All staff should be aware of the stages of typical language development; the impact of speech, language and communication Needs (SCLN) in the classroom; and the importance of the language environment on the child or young person's ability to access academic, social, personal and extra-curricular opportunities.

BCP setting staff are trained to support children who have additional needs with their communication and interaction and in having communication friendly classrooms.

All early years settings have WELLCOMM packs and staff in our early years settings have access to training on ‘Picture Exchange Communication System’ (PECS), ‘Promoting Early Interactive Conversations- Dorset’ (PEICD), speech sound production and developmental language disorder.

BCP Council has invested in The Balanced System® speech, language and communication pathway to support children and young people at universal and SEND support levels across all age ranges. Setting staff, parents and carers are able to access advice and resources.

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Cognition and learning

Children or young people may have difficulty learning, remembering or applying skills and knowledge. They may learn differently from others and have difficulty with literacy or numeracy or learn at a slower pace.

Support for learning difficulties may be required when children and young people learn at a slower pace than their peers, even with appropriate differentiation. This support includes adapting the curriculum so that everyone can access the content and develop key skills, having planned opportunities for repetition, over learning and skill consolidation and using intervention programmes that have been shown to be effective.

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Social, emotional and mental health

Children and young people may experience a wide range of social and emotional difficulties which manifest themselves in many ways. These may include becoming withdrawn or isolated, as well as displaying challenging, disruptive or disturbing behaviour. These behaviours may reflect underlying mental health difficulties such as anxiety or depression, self-harming, substance misuse, eating disorders or physical symptoms that are medically unexplained.

Children and young people should be supported by a whole setting approach to promote wellbeing and resilience and clear processes to help them to manage their behaviour.

Persistent difficult or antisocial behaviours do not necessarily mean that a child or young person has SEND but there should be an assessment to determine whether there are any underlying factors, such as unidentified learning difficulties, difficulties with communication or any mental health issues.

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Sensory and physical

Some children and young people require special educational provision because they have a condition or disability which prevents or hinders them from making use of the educational facilities generally provided. These difficulties can be age related and may change over time. Many children and young people with vision impairment (VI), hearing impairment (HI) or a multi-sensory impairment (MSI) will require specialist support and/or equipment to access their learning.

Some children and young people with a physical disability (PD) require additional ongoing support and equipment to access all the opportunities available to their peers.

All staff should be aware of a child or young person’s sensory and / or physical needs and the implications for all learning environments so that the curriculum is accessible to all.

If you are concerned that your child may have a neurodevelopmental condition, such as autism or ADHD raise this with your child’s setting SENCO. If they are not yet in an educational setting discuss this with your health visitor. Together you can gather evidence to make a referral to the Development and Behaviour Pathway where your child’s developmental needs can be considered by a paediatrician. If your child is educated at home you can make the referral to the Development and Behaviour Pathway yourself.

Considering these primary needs is a useful first step, but a more detailed understanding of an individual child is required for action to be really effective. Teachers should understand the individual characteristics of pupils’ needs, and how these relate to their classroom environment and the content that they are teaching.

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Neurodiversity means that brain differences such as ADHD, or dyslexia can be viewed as natural variations of the human brain.

Everyone has some variation in how good they are at different types of tasks and thinking, but for most people the differences tend to be relatively small. For example, you might be slightly better at maths and slightly poorer at language comprehension or understanding social cues compared to others. Each person has a unique balance of these different thinking skills.

We know from brain-imaging studies that some children and young people have much more variation in their thinking skills. These variations appear in how the brain is “wired”.

Neurodiverse children and young people will usually have some significant differences between their strengths and weaknesses in particular areas. This is sometimes referred to as having a ‘spikey profile’; this means that rather than having a rounded set of skills, they can be very good at some skills and fall behind children and young people their age in others.

For children and young people with learning and thinking diversity it can help them if you as parent/carers and their schools can think of their challenges as differences rather than deficits. This can lead to a positive, strength-based approach which helps raise self-esteem, motivation and resilience.

Neurodiversity is an important part of human variation and is something to be celebrated rather than 'cured'. It is important, however, to understand that some children and young people’s neurodiversity can have a significant impact on them and that in these cases they must have higher levels of professional assessment and support.

To find out more, you can visit the website 'Understood', which gives more detail on neurodiversity.

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