So you think you child has special needs. It’s something many parents begin to get anxious about at the start of the school year. If this is the case, you are one of millions of concerned parents. Your child may be one of millions of children with at least some additional need.
Special Educational Needs (SEN) are well-catered for in most schools. Despite schools suffering financially, teachers and support staff invariably have your child’s interests at heart. They want to help your child and they want to help you.
The range of special needs and support available is so vast that the trick to supporting an SEN child is often the earliest possible intervention. Schools regularly talk about working in partnership with parents and carers, and you should not be afraid to approach your child’s school. First of all, speak to the class teacher and make sure you accurately describe what is causing you concern. The class teacher may already have strategies he/she can recommend and put in place for supporting your child. If the problem is more serious, they will be able to speak to the school SENCO who can co-ordinate support and involve other agencies if necessary.
Avoid diagnosing your child because you have heard of another child who has some similar traits. Don’t assume that because your child is in a different group or doing different work than some of their peers that they are SEN. Teachers differentiate and teach in a way to get the best out of each child at that given time. Over time the level of support and challenge can change.
3 special needs ‘dont’s’
- put off seeking advice (don’t wait until parents’ evening for example);
- simply use the internet to diagnose your child in isolation from professional advice from school and beyond;
- compare your child with others and assume they are SEN because other children are reading ‘harder’ books or getting ‘better’ scores.
3 special needs ‘dos’
More positively, do:
- start a dialogue with the school – you won’t sound stupid sticking-up for your child – and listen to the advice the school can give;
- identify behaviours or difficulties and when you are seeing them;
- remember that your child, like every child is unique and children develop at different rates.
With the right support at the right time (and with support from home too) many special needs can be overcome or managed. You and your child’s school, working together, can make a huge difference.
If you are not satisfied with the support your receive you can speak to your GP and seek further advice.
The Government also provide further information and advice.
You might also like to read our previous article about maths mastery.