For some children, neurological differences can be identified at an early age. However, for other children and young people differences become evident only as they develop. All those who work with children and young people should be alert to emerging difficulties and respond early. In particular, parents know their children best and it is important that all professionals listen and understand when parents express concerns about their child’s development. They should also listen to and address any concerns raised by children and young people themselves.
Persistent disruptive or withdrawn behaviours do not necessarily mean that a child or young person has a neurological difference or difficulty. Where there are concerns, there should be an assessment to determine whether there are any causal factors such as undiagnosed learning difficulties, difficulties with communication or mental health issues. If it is thought family or other domestic circumstances may be contributing to the presenting behaviour a multi- agency approach, supported by the use of approaches such as the Early Help Assessment, may be appropriate. In all cases, early identification and intervention can significantly reduce the use of more costly intervention at a later stage.
Professionals should also be alert to other events that can lead to learning difficulties or wider mental health difficulties, such as bullying or bereavement. Such events will not always lead to children having what would commonly be classed as SEND, but they can have an impact on well-being and sometimes this can be severe. Schools should ensure they make appropriate provision for a child’s short-term needs in order to prevent problems escalating. Where there are long-lasting difficulties schools should consider whether the child might need SEND provision. When reviewing and managing SEND provision there are four broad areas of need and support which give an overview of the range of needs that should be planned for, and schools should review how well equipped they are to provide support across these areas. They are:
Some children suffering with mental health problems can be considered disabled under the Equality Act 2010. All schools are under an obligation not to discriminate against pupils on the grounds of disability.
Under the Act disability includes a mental impairment. The mental impairment must have a substantial and long-term adverse effect on the person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.
Long term means that the symptoms have lasted or are expected to last for 12 months but this need not be consecutive.
The following are examples of mental health symptoms that can be regarded as a mental impairment under the Act:
Anxiety; Low mood; Panic attacks; Phobias; Eating disorders; Bipolar affective disorders; Obsessive compulsive disorders; Personality disorders; Post-traumatic stress disorder; Some self-harming behavior; Depression; Schizophrenia; Autistic spectrum disorders; Dyslexia and dyspraxia; Learning disabilities.
If we accept mental health difficulties such as anxiety can be classed as SEND, a school needs to continue to support the education of a child, especially when there are possible delays in accessing medical support. If a child is unable to attend school they will need support so that they may be able to reintegrate at some point without the additional anxiety created by being behind with their work.
Schools are duty holders under the SEND Code of Practice 2015 and as such the school has the following duties:
o Provide high quality teaching that is differentiated and personalised to meet the individual needs of the majority of children and young people. Some children and young people need educational provision that is additional to or different from this.
o This is special educational provision under Section 21 of the Children and Families Act 2014. Schools and colleges must use their best endeavours to ensure that such provision is made for those who need it.
o If a child or young person falls within the definition of disability above then the school has particular obligations. Schools are under a duty to make reasonable adjustments to put disabled students on a more equal footing with pupils without disabilities. If an adjustment is reasonable then it should be made and there can be no justification for why it is not made. An adjustment may be considered unreasonable if it is very expensive, and may be a reason for a school refusing to offer school-based counselling.
o The duty to make reasonable adjustments is also anticipatory. This means that schools should give thought in advance to what disabled children and young people might require and what adjustments might be needed to prevent disabled students from being disadvantaged.
o Where a school has identified that a pupil needs special educational provision due to their mental health problems, this will comprise educational or training provision that is additional to or different from that made generally for others of the same age. This means provision that goes beyond the differentiated approaches and learning arrangements normally provided as part of high quality, personalised teaching. It may take the form of additional support from within the setting or require the involvement of specialist staff or support services.
Sinclairs Law summarise the law of special educational needs with perspectives from solicitors and parents
The SENCO should ensure all adults working in the school understand their responsibilities to children with SEND, including pupils whose persistent mental health difficulties mean they need special educational provision. Specifically, the SENCO will ensure colleagues understand how the school identifies and meets pupils’ needs, provide advice and support to colleagues as needed and liaise with external SEND professionals as necessary.
Schools should identify and support children with SEN and/or a disability. Children may be supported from within the school’s own resources under SEND Support or they may have an EHC plan. Schools should record what SEND they have identified a child as having, what outcomes they expect the child to achieve with special educational provision, and what provision is being put in place to reach those outcomes in an SEND Support record. They should trigger an EHC needs assessment where they cannot meet a child’s needs.
A parent can submit a parental request for an EHC needs assessment and if school attendance is so low that you are being threatened with prosecution – That is good evidence in itself that the mainstream setting is not able to meet the needs of the child.
If your child is displaying extreme anxiety it is likely they have unmet educational needs.
An EHCP will involve assessments that should identify what these needs or difficulties are and then appropriate support can be organised.
SOS!SEN is a national charity aiming to empower parents and carers of children with SEN to tackle successfully themselves the difficulties they face when battling for their children’s rights.
Independent Parental Special Education Advice (known as IPSEA) is a registered charity operating in England. IPSEA offers free and independent legally based information, advice and support to help get the right education for children and young people with all kinds of special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
They also provide training on the SEND legal framework to parents and carers, professionals and other organisations.
Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Information Advice and Support Service or SENDIASS is a free, confidential and impartial service for parents and carers, children and young people (up to 25 years).
Information & advice regarding the local offer, local policy and SEN/ disability law from independently trained staff. Signposting to alternative and additional sources of local and national information, advice and support
Individual casework and representation where needed including support in attending meetings, contributing to assessments and reviews and participating in decisions about outcomes for the child or young person.
ALLFIE is the only organisation led by Disabled people focused on campaigning and information-sharing on education, training and apprenticeship issues.
ALLFIE campaign for the right of all Disabled pupils and students to be fully included in mainstream education, training and apprenticeships with all necessary supports.
Afasic is the UK charity representing children and young people with speech, language and communication disabilities, working for their inclusion in society andsupporting their parents and carers.
SENTAS provides advice, information and advocacy around issues with SEND home to school or college transport provision
Advice and Information about Autism.
Helpline for Parents
Education Rights Helpline
The organisation was first established in 1997 by parents of children with Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA), a profile on the autism spectrum. The PDA Society became a registered charity in January 2016, and is run by a small board of trustees who are all parents of children with PDA. We provide information, support and training for parents, carers, teachers and individuals with PDA.
We are the umbrella body for the disabled children's sector bringing together professionals, practitioners and policy-makers.
This film challenges schools to gain a new perspective; one that is recognisable by many other young people in Scotland and beyond, who are justifiably angry at the injustice of missing out on the education to which they are entitled. It demonstrates the essential nature of listening proactively and without prejudice to our neurodivergent young people. It is they who are best placed to express what they need to thrive in school. It is time for change.
Families where a child has a brain condition face challenges every day. Just to learn, play, make friends, enjoy and experience the world can feel difficult, even impossible. But we don’t believe there is any challenge that can’t be over come.
Our Mission is to listen to families that include children with brain conditions. We use what they tell us to inspire the best research and innovation. Then we help them put the knowledge into practice so they can discover a better life together.
The BDA is the voice of dyslexic people. We aim to influence government and other institutions to promote a dyslexia friendly society, that enables dyslexic people of all ages to reach their full potential.
The BDA promotes early identification of specific learning difficulties (SpLD) and support in schools to ensure opportunity to learn for dyslexic learners.
The Dyspraxia Foundation is committed to making the teaching and medical professions more aware of dyspraxia; and to spread understanding of how those who have the condition can be helped.
Advice from the CONTACT website regarding disability discrimination in schools
Information and resources for Teenagers, Parents and Professionals
PANS and PANDAS are a set of conditions which result in inflammation of the brain, causing a variety of neuro-psychiatric conditions such as OCD, tics and eating disorders.
PANS PANDAS UK was formed in order to raise awareness and understanding of these conditions amongst the general public and medical professionals.
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Often, the first time parents hear the term Working Memory (WM) is when their child undergoes assessment for learning difficulties. Teachers generally understand that a student’s WM dictates the relative ease or difficulty with which they ‘hold’ information for short periods of time, say to follow classroom instructions, write and spell accurately or complete a mathematical calculation. But there’s more to working memory.
The chances are that unless you have (or a family member has) a diagnosis detailing executive function difficulties, or you are an experienced clinical practitioner, assessor or special needs educator, you may not have heard of executive function (EF) at all.
.... Research shows that students with specific learning difficulties are likely to have executive function challenges. Based on published prevalence figures it is statistically very probable that every mainstream class will include a number of pupils with executive function difficulties.