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Areas of need

The Department for Education has identified four broad areas which cover a range of needs. Some children and young people may have SEN that are defined by more than one of these areas.  These area are defined in the Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice – 0-25 years, January 2015.

1. Communication and interaction

Where children and young people have speech, language and communication difficulties which make it difficult for them to make sense of language or to understand how to communicate effectively and appropriately with others.

Children and young people with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder, including Asperger’s Syndrome, are likely to have particular difficulties with social interaction.

2. Cognition and learning

Where children and young people learn at a slower pace than others their age, they may:

  • have difficulty in understanding parts of the curriculum
  • have difficulties with organisation and memory skills
  • have a specific difficulty affecting one particular part of their learning such as in literacy or numeracy

The term ‘learning difficulties’ covers a wide range of needs, including moderate learning difficulties (MLD), severe learning difficulties (SLD) and profound and multiple difficulties (PMLD). Specific learning difficulties (SpLD) such as dyslexia, dyspraxia and dyscalculia come under this term.

3. Social, emotional and mental health difficulties

Children and young people may experience a wide range of social and emotional difficulties which present themselves in many ways. They may:

  •  have difficulty in managing their relationships with other people
  •  be withdrawn
  •  behave in ways that may hinder their and other children’s learning or that have an impact on their health and wellbeing

This broad area includes attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or attachment disorder. It also includes behaviours that may reflect underlying mental health difficulties such as anxiety, depression, self-harming and eating disorders.

4. Sensory and/or physical needs

Where children and young people have visual and/or hearing impairments, or a physical need that means they must have additional on-going support and equipment.

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