What does special educational needs mean?

‘Special educational needs’ is a legal term that refers to children who have learning difficulties or disabilities that make it more difficult for them to learn than most children their age.

What is classified as special needs?

Special needs usually refer to special needs in the context of education. This is also known as special educational needs (SEN) or special educational needs and disabilities (SEN&D) (SEND).

Individuals with special needs (or additional requirements) require assistance due to medical, mental, or psychological impairments.

Special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) can have an impact on a child’s or adolescent’s ability to learn. They can have an impact on their:

  • reading and writing ability because they might have dyslexia
  • behaviour or ability to socialise – they might struggle to make friends
  • concentration levels because they might have ADHD
  • physical ability

Children with Special Educational Needs

A child has special educational needs if they have a learning problem or disability that makes it more difficult for them to learn than typical children their age. They might struggle with schoolwork, communication, or behaviour. Parents can seek assistance and advice from specialists, instructors, and non-profit organisations.

 

Each special educational need has a distinct impact on a child and adolescent. Here is a list of different types of SEND that are likely to impact your child:

  • ADHD
  • Anxiety
  • Anorexia
  • Aphasia
  • Asperger’s syndrome
  • Auditory processing disorder
  • Autistic spectrum disorder
  • Behavioural difficulties- EBD, SEBD, SEMH
  • Brain Injury
  • Bulimia
  • Cancer
  • Cerebral atrophy
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Conduct disorder
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Developmental delay
  • Down syndrome
  • Duane Syndrome
  • Dyscalculia
  • Dysgraphia
  • Dyslexia
  • Dyspraxia
  • Echolalia
  • Epilepsy
  • Fine and gross motor skill delay
  • Fragile X syndrome
  • Global developmental delay
  • Glue Ear
  • Hearing impairment
  • High-functioning autism
  • Irlen Syndrome
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Learning difficulties
  • Moderate learning difficulties
  • Multi-sensory impairment
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Oppositional defiant disorder
  • Pathological demand avoidance
  • Pervasive developmental disorder
  • Prader-Willi syndrome
  • Profound and multiple learning disabilities
  • Rett Syndrome
  • Semantic pragmatic disorder
  • Sensory processing disorder
  • Severe learning difficulties
  • Smith-Magenis syndrome
  • Spina bifida
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Social skills difficulties
  • Sotos syndrome
  • SWAN
  • Tourette’s syndrome
  • Visual impairment
  • Visual processing disorder

Here is a compiled list of the most commonly used abbreviations in education and explain what they mean. This is not an exhaustive list of all abbreviations; many abbreviations have multiple meanings. These terms are the most commonly used, as well as their most common meaning.

  • ALN – Additional Learning Needs
  • ALNCO – Additional Learning Needs Coordinator
  • AAP – Average Attaining Pupil
  • ABA – Applied behavioural analysis
  • ADOS – Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule
  • AWPU – Age-Weighted Pupil Unit
  • BAS – British Ability Scales
  • BEST – Behaviour and Education Support Team
  • BSP – Behaviour Support Plan
  • CAMHS – Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service
  • CAF – Common Assessment Framework
  • CARS – Childhood Autism Rating Scale
  • CBRS – Conners Comprehensive Behaviour Rating Scales
  • CCG – Clinical Commissioning Groups
  • CIN – Child in Need
  • CFA – Children and Families Act 2014
  • CSSIW – Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales
  • DD – Disability discrimination
  • DDA – Disability Discrimination Act
  • DSA – Disabled Student’s Allowance
  • EFA – Education Funding Agency
  • EHCP – Education, Health and Care Plan
  • EP – Educational psychologist
  • EWO – Education Welfare Officer
  • EYFS – Early years foundation stage
  • EYSP – The Early Years Foundation Stage Profile
  • IASS – Information, Advice and Support Service
  • IBP – Individual Behaviour Plan
  • IEP – Individual Education Plan
  • IQ – Intelligence Quotient
  • LA – Local authority
  • LAC – Looked After Child (Children)
  • LSA / TA – Learning support assistant/teaching assistant
  • OT – Occupational Therapist
  • PEP – Personal Education Plan
  • PRU – Pupil Referral Units
  • PT – Physiotherapists
  • SALT / SLT – Speech and Language Therapists
  • SEAL Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning
  • SEN – Special educational needs
  • SEND – Special Educational Needs and Disability
  • SENCO – Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator
  • SENDIST – Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal
  • SENTW – Special Educational Needs Tribunal for Wales
  • SIP – School Improvement Plan
  • TAF – Team Around the Family
  • TEACCH – Treatment and Education of Autistic and related Communication Handicapped Children
  • WIATT – Wechsler Individual Achievement Test
  • WPPSI – Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence
  • WISC – Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children