09 Jan How To Support A Child With Special Education Needs?
How To Support A Child With Special Education Needs?
It is thought that more than 15% of the UK’s school-aged population are affected by special education needs (SEN). With additional learning needs being so prevalent, it raises the question of what special education needs support is available for those affected?
Navigating a child’s educational journey with special education needs can be challenging. As parents & guardians, you want to understand your child’s unique needs and provide them with the resources, expertise and environment needed to thrive in their education.
Throughout this article, we will take a closer look at some of the more common special education needs, how they affect a student in their studies, and what you can do if you are looking to support a child with special education needs.
So, What Are Special Education Needs?
Special education needs (SEN) is a broad term for all learning difficulties or disabilities, making it harder for a child to learn or digest information. Special education needs refer to the unique requirements of students who face challenges beyond what is typically addressed through mainstream education. These challenges encompass various conditions, disabilities, disorders and impairments that affect a child’s learning.
Special education needs are unique to every child and it’s important to recognise that every child with special education needs will have their own strengths and challenges, which may manifest in several ways; whether that be academic struggles, behavioural issues or difficulties with social interactions and communication. By identifying the special education needs of a student, a personalised approach to the child’s education can be developed to ensure that they receive the support necessary to thrive academically, socially and emotionally.
Children with special education needs may require extra help or different approaches to support them in their studies, and a “special education” encompasses a range of additional support, services and accommodations that will benefit special education learners in their studies. Examples of additional support or accommodations for children with special education needs may include assistive technology, adapted equipment, modified instruction, extra teacher support, adapted learning plans, different learning settings, extra time for assignments and tests, amongst many other strategies. The accommodations that can be made for special education needs students are endless but ultimately comes down to what you as a parent can provide and any additional provisions provided by your child’s school or place of study.
Special education needs do not need to hold your child back in their studies! In today’s world, there are endless strategies that can accommodate student’s unique educational needs!
What Are Some Examples Of Special Education Needs?
While special education needs is an all-encompassing term for a wide range of conditions, difficulties or disabilities, some more common special educational needs have been well-observed. Examples of some of these common types of special education needs include:
Learning disabilities: Learning disabilities may involve difficulties in reading, writing, mathematics, or comprehension. Some examples of common learning difficulties include dyslexia, dyscalculia, dyspraxia, dysgraphia and language processing disorders.
Intellectual disabilities: Intellectual disabilities refer to significant limitations in intellectual functioning and adaptive behavior, for example finding it hard to remember things or having trouble speaking.
Autism spectrum disorders: Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are characterised by challenges in social interaction, communication, and repetitive patterns of behavior. Aspergers syndrome is an example of an autism spectrum disorder, and those with Aspergers syndrome may have special education needs and requirements to meet.
Sensory impairments: Sensory impairments include hearing or visual impairments that can affect a student’s learning.
Physical disabilities: Physical impairments can impact a pupil’s studies as they may require assistive devices or adaptations to access education.
Emotional and behavioural difficulties: These difficulties can have an impact on a child’s education and may manifest as challenges in emotional regulation, behaviour control, or mental health conditions. Examples of emotional and behavioural difficulties include ADHD, ADD and OCD.
Speech and language impairments: These involve difficulties in speech or language comprehension.
The term special education needs doesn’t refer to any one condition or disability, rather it is a general term covering a wide range of disabilities, difficulties or disorders that impact a child’s education or how they learn.
What Are The Signs Of Special Education Needs?
Signs or symptoms of special education needs can vary widely depending on the specific challenges a child may be facing. However, there are some common indicators that may suggest a child could benefit from special education support. It’s important to note that these signs alone do not necessarily mean a child has special education needs, and the process of identifying special education needs should involve collaboration amongst parents, educators, special education needs specialists and healthcare professionals. Here are some general signs that may indicate the need for special education support:
Academic Struggles: If a child is showing difficulty in understanding basic academic skills such as reading, writing or maths, or is consistently falling behind their peers in terms of academic progress, then this may be a strong sign that your child could benefit from special education provisions.
Behavioural Issues: Persistent behavioural issues that significantly affect a child’s learning or social interactions is another indication of special education needs. Examples of behavioural issues may include: difficulty in paying attention or staying focused in class, emotional outbursts, aggression, or withdrawal.
Communication Difficulties: Communication is a vital component in your child’s academic success! Speech and language delays, trouble expressing thoughts or understanding spoken language and limited vocabulary or difficulty with articulation could all be signs that a child may have special educational needs.
Motor Skill Delays: Fine or gross motor skill challenges, such as difficulty with handwriting or lack of coordination in physical activities could be indicators of special education needs. If motor skill delays are presenting challenges in a child’s learning, then special education provisions may be required to support the learner.
Sensory Sensitivities: Over or under-reacting to sensory stimulation (for example: lights, sounds, textures) or sensory-seeking or avoidance behaviors will all present challenges for a student in a typical classroom setting. Special education accommodations for children with sensory sensitivities may involve the use of sensory rooms, sensory tools, noise reduction or sensory breaks.
Attention and Hyperactivity: If a child is displaying difficulty trying to sustain their attention or keeping focused on one task, due to hyperactivity or impulsivity, that is interfering with their learning, then special education accommodations may be of benefit.
It’s important to remember that these signs may vary in intensity and may be present in children without special education needs. If you observe persistent challenges in multiple areas, consulting with teachers, school professionals, and healthcare providers can help determine if further evaluation or special education services are required. Early intervention is the most effective way to address and support children with special needs.
How To Know If Your Child Has Special Education Needs?
There is no one special education needs test as such. Identifying whether your child has special education needs involves a combination of observation, communication with teachers and other professionals, and, if necessary, seeking formal assessment. Your child may be able to be tested for specific conditions or disabilities, but here are some of the first steps you can take to help determine if your child may have special education needs:
Observe Behaviour and Academic Development: As a starting point, it is important to pay attention to your child’s academic progress, social interactions, and behavior both at home and in different settings. Is your child receiving positive feedback regarding their school work? Are they socialising well with other children their own age? Are there any persistent challenges or delays in areas such as language development, motor skills or attention? Observation of your child will be the starting point for identifying any special education needs.
Communicate with Teachers and School Professionals: Maintaining good communication with your child’s teachers and school professionals will help you in identifying any special education needs for your child. Schedule meetings with your child’s teachers to discuss their performance and behaviour in the classroom. Also ask teachers if they have observed any difficulties or challenges and if they have had to implement any special accommodations to address the challenges your child is facing. Work collaboratively with teachers, special education professionals, and other school staff to develop a plan for support or special accommodations if needed.
Educational Assessments: While there is no specific test that encompasses all special education needs, you may be able to request educational assessments from the school if you have specific concerns, for example if you suspect your child may have dyslexia. Schools typically have a process for identifying and evaluating students with special education needs, so take full advantage of what they can provide. Educational assessments may include standardised tests, observations, and input from teachers, parents, and specialists.
Speak to Healthcare Professionals: Consulting with your child’s GP or healthcare professionals about any concerns you have regarding your child’s academic progress will help in identifying special education needs for your child. Healthcare professionals can provide guidance on whether further evaluations, such as psychological assessments or screenings, may be necessary.
Document Your Observations: Keep a record of your observations, including specific behaviours, challenges, and any patterns you notice within your child. Share this information with teachers, school professionals, and healthcare providers during meetings or assessments.
Trust Your Instincts: Finally, as a parent, you know your child best. If you have concerns, then trust your instincts and be vocal about your child’s needs. Don’t hesitate to seek a second opinion if necessary, and explore all available resources and support, both within your child’s school and beyond the classroom!
Remember that the process of identifying special education needs is collaborative and should involve the input of parents, teachers, and professionals. If special education accommodations are deemed necessary, than an individulasied learning plan, addressing your child’s specific educational needs can be developed. Regular communication with your child’s school and ongoing assessment can help to ensure that your child receives the appropriate support and resources necessary.
How To Support A Child With Special Education Needs At School?
If you suspect your child may have special education needs then it is important to raise your concerns with your child’s school. Supporting a child with special education needs requires a collaborative approach between you as a parent, your child’s school and support professionals. Many schools have a special education needs department (SEND) and dedicated special education needs support staff to help your child.
Your child’s school’s special education needs department and staff should develop a learning plan focused around your child’s strengths and weaknesses and recommend any specific accommodations that may benefit your child in their studies. A personalised learning plan is a key element in supporting a child with special education needs at school. Teachers and support staff should work closely with parents to monitor progress, make adjustments to the child’s learning plan as needed and ensure that the child is receiving the necessary resources to thrive in their education.
In addition to formal learning plans, schools can also implement practical strategies in the classroom to benefit children with special education needs or learning difficulties. This may include flexible seating arrangements, visual aids, the use of assistive technology and other strategies to create an environment where every student feels valued and included.
Regular meetings with teachers and special education staff will help to give you a comprehensive understanding of your child’s ongoing educational needs and challenges.
How To Support A Child With Special Education Needs At Home?
Supporting a child with special education needs extends beyond the classroom. Consistency and proper understanding is also required at home. Educational support should also extend beyond the classroom to the home too. Below we have detailed some of the best ways you can help support a child with special education needs from home:
Establish a Consistent Routine: Incorporating routine and structure into daily life at home will benefit students with special education needs; a consistent schedule will help to provide routine and comfort, reducing anxiety. A consistent schedule also ensures work gets completed on time, reducing the possibility of a student with special needs falling even further behind.
Create A Dedicated Learning Space: A dedicated learning space at home will help to minimise distractions for your child and provide the necessary tools and materials for your child to thrive in their education. Designate a quiet and organised space for focused learning activities, such as homework, reading or other educational tasks.
Use Adaptive Technology: Making use of adaptive technology at home will benefit your child by targeting their specific needs and learning style. Explore the use of adaptive technology in the form of: screen readers, interactive whiteboards, speech-to-text devices, visual aids, interactive activities, educational games etc. There are endless adaptive technologies out there, so take the time to identify which of these may benefit your child in their studies.
Positive Reinforcement: Celebrate the small achievements by providing positive reinforcement. Acknowledge your child’s successes and progress to help develop a positive attitude towards learning. Positive reinforcement will benefit your child’s self-esteem, confidence and motivation.
Collaborate With Teachers: Maintaining clear communication with your child’s school and teachers will mean that all parties can stay informed about your child’s progress. Collaborate on strategies that can be reinforced from home, ensuring consistency throughout your child’s special education needs support.
Sensory Supports: Consider providing sensory-friendly tools and accommodations at home. While you may not have the space for a dedicated sensory area, accommodations such as fidget tools, noise-cancelling headphones or a dedicated learning space can help you to support your child in their special education needs from home.
Encourage Social Interaction: Encourage opportunities for social interaction by arranging playdates, getting involved with community activities or participating in group activities related to your child’s interests. Social engagement is essential for your child’s overall development.
Look for Extra Support: If you want to support your child in their special education needs beyond the classroom then why not consider extra support? Extra support could come in many forms, for example parent training and support groups, therapy, mentoring programs, or respite care services. But by far one of the greatest extra supports for children with special learning needs would be a SEND tutoring programme such as Tutorwiz. Having helped many children through online special needs tutoring, Tutorwiz work with students of all abilities. The programme is designed to suit the various complex needs of so many individual students, helping them to become confident learners who thrive in their education!
It’s important to remember that every special education needs student is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. Flexibility, patience, and a willingness to adapt to your child’s individual needs are essential when supporting a child with special education needs at home.
Does Your Child Need To Attend A Special Education Needs School?
Deciding whether your child needs to attend a special education needs (SEN) school is a big decision that requires careful consideration. SEN schools are designed specifically for students with special educational needs, offering a more targeted and individualised approach to their education.
Whether a SEN school is the right choice for your child or not will depend on a range of factors, whether that be your child’s current performance at mainstream school, their academic strengths and weaknesses, social interactions or overall emotional well-being.
As always, it’s essential to have an open dialogue with your child’s current school. Can your child’s mainstream school meet the additional needs of your child? Do they have any recommendations on whether your child would be better-accommodated at a SEN school and have their unique learning needs met? Do they have other students with special education needs who have thrived in their education by staying in mainstream school?
Beyond your child’s academic performance, it is also important to consider the social and emotional impact of moving your child to a SEN school. Will your child lose friendships and strong bonds they have developed at mainstream school? Could a SEN school offer a more understanding and accommodating atmosphere where your child can receive better emotional support? What will the social impact of moving your child to a special needs school have on them?
Ultimately, there are endless considerations when deciding whether to send your child to a special education needs school or not, and an open dialogue between you as parents, your child’s current school and other support staff and professionals will help you to make this decision. Where appropriate, we would also recommend you involve your child in this dialogue too.
How Can You Get Your Child Into A Special Education Needs School?
If you have made the decision to send your child to a special education needs (SEN) school, then you may be wondering what your options are and how you go about enrolling your child. Enrolling your child in a SEN school requires careful planning and preparation to ensure your child’s unique requirements are understood and can be met.
As a starting point, we recommend that you first gather information about different SEN schools in your area (or even further afield if more specialist support is required i.e. Residential special schools (RSSs)). Research all of the different schools available to you, their teaching approaches and the range of services and support offered to identify which schools most closely align to your child’s needs. Attend informational sessions and open days if available and schedule visits to the school during school hours to get an idea of their different learning environments and what support systems are in place.
Before enrolling your child at a SEN school, it is vital that you have a very clear understanding of the exact support your child requires so that their individual learning needs can be met. Not only will a clear understanding of your child’s exact needs help you to identify the best SEN school for them, but it will also help in developing a learning plan for them once they start at their new school.
Once you have identified schools the seem like a good fit for your child, it’s time to initiate communication with schools’ admissions offices. This is an opportunity to discuss your child’s requirements, share assessment results, understand the school’s admission process and identify what funding is available from the Government, if any. Some schools may also conduct their own assessments to ensure a thorough understanding of the child’s needs.
Open communication with the school is important during this process, to ensure that your child’s special education needs can be perfectly met.
How Else Can You Support A Student With Special Education Needs?
If you’re wondering where else you can turn for special education needs support, then Tutrorwiz has you covered! Tutorwiz is the online tutoring website that was specifically designed for special education needs students! The concept behind Tutorwiz stems from a husband-and-wife team whose own child had special education needs. Together, they wrote some simple programmes to help their son with his mathematics and were astounded by how quickly he picked up the concepts. This is where the idea behind Tutorwiz first came about.
Tutorwiz are proud to work with students of all abilities with a wide range of special education needs, including but not limited to: ADD/ADHD tutoring, dyscalculia, dysgraphia and dyslexia tutoring, as well as many other behavioural and learning difficulties. The feedback we receive from parents is that Tutorwiz has been a real benefit for their kid’s SEN education. Our special education needs tutoring programme is designed to suit the various complex needs of so many individual students!
To find out more about Tutorwiz’s special education needs tutoring programme or to arrange a FREE Special Education Assessment for your child, then please get in touch with us today. You can get in touch by calling us on 0800 181 4221, by using our contact form, or by emailing us at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Discover how Tutorwiz has helped hundreds of special education needs students to thrive in their education!