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Defining Special Needs
The acronym SEN is normally used to describe Special Educational Needs. An individual is defined as having Special Educational Needs if he/she has a Learning Difficulty, or a Physical impairment/disability which requires special educational provision to be made for that individual.
In relation to Childcare, a child can be defined as having a Learning difficulty if they have a significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of children of the same age; or has a physical disability which hinders them from making effective use of educational facilities of a kind generally provided for children of the same age in schools within the same Local Education Authority (LEA).
Learning Difficulties can be further defined across a spectrum, ranging from Moderate to Severe needs. Physical disabilities are also categorised across a similar spectrum.
Special Educational Needs are, by definition, not solely linked to Learning Difficulties and Physical Impairments. Its definitional boundaries can be extended to accommodate pupils with Emotional and Behavioural difficulties which further illustrate other complex mental conditions.
More recently, pupils who speak English as an additional language (EAL) have also been grouped under the umbrella of SEN.
SEN Glossary of Terms
Moderate Learning Difficulties (MLD)
This includes children who have difficulties in all areas of learning. Their rate of progress is very slow. They attend mainstream schools unless they also have additional significant difficulties when they may be placed into a special school.
Severe Learning Difficulties (SLD)
This describes children who show a global delay in all areas of physical, intellectual and social development. Their rate of progress is less than half the rate of other children of the same age. These children will have a statement of special educational need.
Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties (PMLD)
Pupils with profound and multiple learning difficulties have severe and complex learning needs, in addition they have other significant difficulties, such as physical disabilities or a sensory impairment. Pupils require a high level of adult support, both for their learning needs and also for personal care.
Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLD)
Pupils with SpLD may have a particular difficulty in learning to read, write, spell or manipulate numbers. Pupils may also have problems with short-term memory, with organisational skills and with co-ordination. Pupils with SpLD cover the whole ability range and the severity of their impairment varies widely. Specific learning difficulties include dyslexia, dyspraxia and dyscalculia .
Hearing Impairment (HI)
Pupils with a hearing impairment range from those with a mild hearing loss to those who are profoundly deaf. They cover the whole ability range. For educational purposes, pupils are regarded as having a hearing impairment if they require hearing aids, adaptations to their environment and/or particular teaching strategies in order to access the concepts and language of the curriculum.
Visual Impairment (VI)
Visual impairment refers to a range of difficulties from partial sight through to blindness. Pupils with visual impairments cover the whole ability range. For educational purposes, a pupil is considered to be VI if they require adaptations to their environment or specific differentiation of learning materials in order to access the curriculum.
Speech, Language and Communication Needs (SLCN)
Pupils with SLCN may have difficulty in understanding and/or making others understand information conveyed through spoken language. Their acquisition of speech and their oral language skills may be significantly behind their peers. Their speech may be poor or unintelligible and they cover the full ability range.
Physical Disability (PD)
Some pupils are able to access the curriculum and learn effectively without additional educational provision. They have a disability but do not have a special educational need. For others, the impact on their education may be severe. There are a number of medical conditions associated with physical disability which can impact on mobility, such as cerebral palsy, spina bifida and muscular dystrophy. Pupils with physical disabilities may also have associated sensory impairments, neurological problems or learning difficulties.
Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
Pupils with autistic spectrum disorder cover the full range of ability and the severity of their impairment varies widely. Some pupils may also have learning disabilities or other difficulties, making identification difficult.
ASD recognises that there are a number of sub-groups within the spectrum of autism. Pupils with ASD find it difficult to:
Behaviour, Emotional and Social Difficulties (BESD/EBD)
BESD describes a wide range of difficulties including children who are very withdrawn, children who are hyper-active, children with mental health problems, children who are unable to control their temper and those who are aggressive or disruptive.