About special educational needs

Special educational needs (SEN) is a legal term, referring to any condition, difficulty or syndrome which affects a child or young person’s ability to learn.

Children with SEN might need extra help with:

  • Reading and writing
  • Maths
  • Talking, saying how they feel and understanding
  • Making friends and working with other children
  • Relating to adults
  • Behaving in school.

Some children with SEN need help with everything they do at school and at home, while others only need help in certain areas.

Their difficulties may be related to conditions such as autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), learning disability, or physical disabilities. Other factors include dyslexia and dyspraxia. Children who have mental health problems such as depression or obsessive compulsive disorder which are getting in the way of their learning may also have special educational needs.

All children develop at different rates and there is a wide range of normal development. You may know your child has difficulties from birth or from a very early age, and you may be involved with helping services from this point. Or you may become concerned about their development as they get older and you realise they are not learning in the way other children are. It may be they just need a bit of extra time and help, and they will catch up.