Broad areas of need

Children and young people may have special educational needs in one or more of the following four areas.  These are described in the SEND Code of Practice as:

Communication and Interaction

Children and young people with speech, language and communication needs 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 speech, language and communication needs 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 Autism Spectrum Conditions, including Asperger Syndrome, are likely to have particular difficulties with social interaction. They may also experience difficulties with language, communication and flexibility of thought which can impact on how they relate to others.

Cognition and Learning

Support for learning difficulties may be required when children and young people learn at a slower pace than their peers, even with appropriate differentiation.

Learning difficulties cover a wide range of needs, including: moderate learning difficulties; severe learning difficulties, where children are likely to need support in all areas of the curriculum and have associated difficulties with mobility and communication; profound and multiple learning difficulties, where children are likely to have severe and complex learning difficulties as well as a physical disability or sensory impairment.

Specific learning difficulties, affect one or more specific aspects of learning. This encompasses a range of conditions such as dyslexia, dyscalculia and dyspraxia.

Social, emotional and mental health difficulties

Children and young people may experience a wide range of social and emotional difficulties which manifest 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 These may include becoming withdrawn or isolated, as well as displaying challenging, disruptive or disturbing behaviour.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. In some cases children or young people may have conditions such as attention deficit disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or attachment disorder.

Sensory and/or physical needs

Some children and young people require special educational provision because they have sensory or physical disabilities. Many children and young people with vision impairment, hearing impairment , multi-sensory impairment or physical disability will require specialist support and/or equipment to access learning. Children and young people with an multi-sensory impairment have a combination of vision and hearing difficulties.


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