When you have a child with special educational needs, you may be involved with many different people from the Children and Young People's department, and from other departments such as Health.
You may want to know who will write reports and what will be involved.
This page tells you:
- which people will write reports on your child for an Assessment under the 1996 Education Act what you can expect from them.
Teachers and Early Years Special Needs Teachers
Teachers should tell you:
- what your child can do
- what your child’s teacher would like your child to learn next
- what school activities your child enjoys
- how your child fits in with the school routine
- if your child is getting better at any of the things found difficult
- what has helped your child to make progress
- whether your child can concentrate and keep trying at school work
- what has been tried in school to help your child.
Educational Psychologists are specially trained to advise on the needs and difficulties of children, and on ways of helping them. Educational Psychologists have also trained and worked as teachers.
How they assess your child depends on the individual Educational Psychologist, but most will want to give your child some things to do individually. They will also want to observe your child in the classroom or nursery, talk to you and talk to the teacher or anyone else who knows your child well. They may do their assessment over a period of time.
Educational Psychologists should tell you:
- why they need to assess your child
- their opinion on your child’s strengths and weaknesses in learning
- what your child can do, and what needs to be learned
- the effect which any disabilities may have on your child’s learning
- how your child can be helped to learn.
Many families do not have a social worker. If this is the case, you will not have a visit from a social worker. The social services report will say that they do not know your child. If a social worker knows about your child, their report should talk about:
- any special family care arrangements that might exist
- any problems that the family and the child have to cope with which could affect learning in school.
Community Child Health Doctors (School Doctors) and Paediatricians
Community Child Health Doctors and Paediatricians are specialist doctors who will talk to you about your child’s health and medical needs.
They should tell you:
- the implications of any medical/health factors, including sight, hearing and body movement, for your child’ educationabout the need for any checks to be kept on your child’s medical condition.
They also gather information from other health service staff, eg consultants, speech and language therapists, physiotherapists.
School Nurses or Health Visitors
A report on your child may be written either by the school nurse (also known as the Community Child Health Nurse) or by the health visitor, who are both qualified nurses with extra training. They do not have to write a report, but can do if they know your child.
They should tell you:
- about your child’s weight, height, eyes and ears
- what they may know about any health problems your child may have, and ways of overcoming or coping with the problems better.
Speech and Language Therapists
Speech and Language Therapists have special training in the speech and language development of children, and in helping children with communication difficulties. A speech and language therapist will only write a report if already involved with your child.
They should tell you:
- about your child’s own speech and use of language
- if your child needs any special approaches to help communication, such as sign language or communication aids
- if your child needs speech and language therapy.
A speech and language therapist might work with your child individually or in a small group. This might be at nursery or school, or at the clinic.
Physiotherapists are trained to assess movement and physical development, such as co-ordination, ability to sit, stand and walk. They advise on how best to help your child develop further movement, or keep as much movement as possible. They also advise on specialist equipment.
The physiotherapist will work out a programme during your child’s treatment and will keep reassessing your child’s needs over a period of time. A physiotherapist will write a report only if your child is already having physiotherapy.
Physiotherapists should tell you if:
- your child has achieved the physical skills appropriate to age, or if there is any delay
- there is any physical abnormality such as posture, range of movement, muscle tone, co-ordination or deformity
- your child needs regular treatment by a physiotherapist and what the programme should be
- your child needs special equipment.
Occupational Therapists are trained to develop your child’s best level of independent function, physically, psychologically and in the social aspects of life. They take into consideration the age and problems of your child, the physical environment in which your child lives and the life style of your family. An occupational therapist will only write a report if already involved with your child.
What an occupational therapist should tell you:
- The level of your child’s personal independence; social skills; cognitive skills (those skills which allow your child to be aware of, and understand, the world in which they live); perceptual skills (those skills which enable your child to interpret objects and their qualities through the use of different senses)
- The level of your child’s fine motor skills (eg writing, fastening buttons)
- Whether your child needs specialist equipment
- Whether there is a need for adaptation/alteration to your home and what assistance is available to fund such work
- If there is a need for a specialist wheelchair, pushchair or trike. Also whether specialist seating or cushions are required.
- Ask people what they mean if they use words that you do not understand. It is their job to explain things clearly to you
- Do not be afraid to ask them to explain things more than once if you do not understand. In return, do not worry if they ask questions which seem to have no point!
- You can have a friend or relative with you when there is a meeting
- It is a good idea to jot down questions to ask before you see them. No-one will mind if you bring out a list to check that you have remembered everything.
Remember, it is your child.
All the people who are involved should be happy to answer your questions:
- You will probably have met most of them already
- The teacher sees your child most days and is able to talk regularly to you
- Each of the people writing a report will want to talk to you about your child and they will make their own arrangement with you.
As for contact with your child:
- The doctor will probably want to see you and your child together.
If your child is in school:
- The psychologist may want to see your child working in class, and to spend time with your child individually. You have a right to be there, but parents often choose not to, in case it puts their child off. When you see your psychologist, you can decide on this together.
If your child is very young, or not yet attending school or nursery:
- The psychologist will see you and your child together, sometimes at your home.