I think my child has special educational needs

Information about special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and where to start if you think your child has SEND.

What are special educational needs?

A person has special educational needs if they have a learning difficulty or disability that means they need special educational support. A disability is when a person has a physical or mental difficulty that has a significant and long-term effect on their ability to carry out activities. This can include a long-term illness.

Communicating by sign language
Special educational needs and disabilities is often shortened to SEND; sometimes people refer to it as additional needs. 

What this means for your child

Children and young people with SEND may have difficulties with:

  • expressing themselves, understanding what others are saying and managing their relationships (communicating and interacting)
  • organisation, understanding instructions, memory, concentrating, reading, writing and number work, following rules and instructions (cognition and learning)
  • making friends or getting on with others (social, emotional and mental health difficulties)
  • learning because of a medical condition (sensory and/or physical needs).

For some children, this need may only be short term, which can be met through the expertise and resources of their child's school or early years setting, or with advice and support from outside professionals and organisations. A small number of children, who struggle to progress despite this support, will need a higher level of support. 

Page last updated: 13 Feb 2024