How to understand and manage different Special Educational Needs
Special Education is educating children with either a learning difficulty or disability which makes it harder for them to learn, in other words they need extra support. As a Special Educational Needs Teacher, you’ll teach the curriculum to children but in a way which works for them.
Here is a list of common special needs, their characteristics and where applicable, how to manage signs in the classroom.
SEMH: Social, Emotional & Mental Health
Children with SEMH may have difficulties managing their emotions and building relationships.
Typical characteristics of children with SEMH are mood swings, frustration, verbal and physical threats, stealing, setting fires and self harm.
Managing SEMH in the classroom: allow pupils to read or listen to music, reward efforts, promote exercise.
BESD: Behavioural, Emotional and Social Difficulties
Children with BEDS have trouble building relationships and struggle in mainstream environments. They sometimes show inappropriate responses or feelings to situations and are often considered to showcase socially unacceptable behaviours.
Typical characteristics of children with BESD are aggression, vandalism, drug abuse, truancy and threatening behaviour.
Managing BESD in the classroom: figure out what triggers certain behaviours, reinforce your expectations, allow fidgeting if it aids concentration.
ADHD: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
ADHD is common in both mainstream and Special Schools. The two main characteristics of ADHD are inattentiveness and hyperactivity. It’s quite common for children that have ADHD to suffer from other conditions, such as anxiety, depression or sleep problems. These can all contribute to problems with learning in school.
Managing ADHD in the classroom: shorten tasks, provide a quiet space, be direct and increase verbal tasks.
ASD: Autism Spectrum Disorder
ASD covers a number of conditions which affect a child's ability to communicate, have interests and interact socially. Different types of ASD include Autism, Asperger Syndrome and Pervasive Developmental Disorder. Children with ASD also have problems with non-verbal communication; they tend to not be able to understand facial expressions or body language. Children with ASD also show little interest in other children and may suffer from trigger tantrums.
Managing ASD: set the classroom up in rows, post classroom rules, give verbal prompts frequently.
This condition affects a child’s movement and coordination - it can differ from case to case, some children may only be slightly affected while others could be severely disabled. General characteristics could be difficulties with vision or speech, walking on tiptoes or clumsy movements. Many children with Cerebral Palsy go to a mainstream school but will benefit more from a special school.
Down’s Syndrome causes learning disabilities and specific physical characteristics, there are a number of ways a special education teacher can support children with Down’s Syndrome, from teaching them to be independent with things like feeding themselves to learning new works, and integrating them socially with other children. Children with Down’s Syndrome have difficulties learning.
HI/VI: Hearing Impairment / Visual Impairment
Children with HI may need extra support in a classroom, from strategically placing them near the speaker to a remote microphone (HAT). Schools will accommodate for children with VI as appropriate.
Children with Visual Impairment have differing needs depending on the severity of their condition - some may need to learn Braille, whereas others may need to learn through visual cues, i.e. large writing or a specific font.
MLD, SLD, PMLD: Moderate - Severe - Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties
Children with Moderate Learning Difficulties have attainment levels significantly lower than their peers, they may also struggle with language delay, low concentration and underdeveloped social skills.
Severe learning difficulties relate to children that have an attainment level below the 0.01% percentile, which as a major effect on their schoolwork without support.
PMLD relates to children with complex needs, as well as learning difficulties, these children will also have physical disabilities, sensory issues or a severe medical condition. Some characteristics of learning difficulties could be having trouble reading, limited vocabulary, underdeveloped coordination skills and difficulty remembering. Children with PMLD need a lot of support.