What are Special Educational Needs and Disabilities

What are Special Educational Needs and Disabilities  

The definition of SEND:

  • A child or young person has SEN if they have a learning difficulty or disability which calls for special educational provision to be made for him or her.

 

  • A child of compulsory school age or a young person has a learning difficulty or disability if he or she:

 

  • has a significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of others of the same age, or
  • has a disability which prevents or hinders him or her from making use of facilities of a kind generally provided for others of the same age in mainstream schools or mainstream post-16 institutions

 

  • For children aged two years or more, special educational provision is educational or training provision that is additional to or different from that made generally for other children or young people of the same age by mainstream schools, maintained nursery schools, mainstream post-16 institutions or by relevant early years providers.

Children and young people who have special educational needs (SEN) do not necessarily have a disability, and some disabled children and young people do not have special educational needs. There is a lot of overlap between the two groups though.

A child or young person has a disability if they have a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial or long term effect on their ability to carry out normal day to day activities. All schools have duties under the Equality Act 2010 towards individual disabled children and young people. They must make reasonable adjustments, including the provision of auxiliary aids and services for disabled children, to prevent them being put at a substantial disadvantage

 

The four broad areas of special educational need are:

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. They may have difficulty with one, some or all of the different aspects of speech, language or social communication at different times of their lives.

Children and young people with an autistic spectrum disorder (ASD), including Asperger’s Syndrome and 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.

Cognition and learning

Children and young people with cognition and learning difficulties will learn at a slower pace than other children and may have greater difficulty than their peers in acquiring basic literacy or numeracy skills or in understanding concepts, even with appropriate differentiation. They may also have other difficulties such as speech and language delay, low self-esteem, low levels of concentration and under-developed social skills.

Cognition and learning difficulties covers a wide range of needs, from children with Specific learning difficulties (SpLD) through to profound and multiple learning difficulties (PMLD). Specific learning difficulties affect one or more specific aspects of learning. This encompasses a range of conditions such as dyslexia, dyscalculia and dyspraxia.  In contrast children with PMLD are likely to have severe and complex learning difficulties requiring support in all areas of the curriculum as well as a physical disability or sensory impairment.

Social, emotional and mental health difficulties

Children and young people’s social and emotional difficulties manifest themselves in many ways. These difficulties may be displayed through the child or young person becoming withdrawn or isolated, as well as through challenging, disruptive or disturbing behaviour.  Children and young people who have difficulties with their emotional and social development may have immature social skills and find it difficult to make and sustain healthy relationships.

Some 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. Other children and young people may have disorders such as attention deficit disorder, attention deficit hyperactive disorder or attachment disorder.

For some children and young people, difficulties in their emotional and social development, can mean that they require additional and different provision in order for them to achieve.  

Sensory and/or physical needs

Some children and young people require special educational provision because they have a disability which prevents or hinders them from making use of the educational facilities generally provided. These difficulties can be age related and may fluctuate 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, or habilitation support. Children and young people with an MSI have a combination of vision and hearing difficulties.

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.

 

 Last updated: 03 Feb 2020

If you'd like to view this content in another format please email livewell@southend.gov.uk