Page 1

November • December 2012 Issue 61

Life at the chalk face

How will teachers meet the challenge of SEN reforms?

The changing role of the SENCO

Is a difficult job about to get harder?

Unlocking lives Helping those with PMLD to reach their potential

SEN and mental health • how to complain about schools • spina bifida autism • dual or multiple exceptional children • dyslexia • equine therapy creative arts • SEN news, CPD, events, recruitment and much more...

this issue in full

November • December 2012 • Issue 61

Editor’s letter Like it or not, we live in interesting times. The world of special educational needs is going through its biggest upheaval for thirty years, with legislation and official guidance issuing forth at an unprecedented and, some might say, alarming rate.

In this issue of SEN Magazine, we have three articles looking at different aspects of the SEN reforms. Alison Ryan examines how new legislation will affect schools and teachers (p.18), Lorraine Petersen looks at the changing role of the school SENCO (p.48) and Amelia Roberts asks if planned changes will leave children and young people without the additional support they need (p.47).

The Government’s appetite for change is seemingly insatiable, its determination to move quickly, unwavering. Depending on your point of view, this may seem either admirable or foolhardy. One thing is for sure: all the talk and all the activity of our “interesting times” have put SEN firmly on the political agenda. We now have a once-in-a-generation chance to dramatically improve the lives of large numbers of children, young people and their families.

Elsewhere in this issue, you will find articles on subjects ranging from dyslexia (p.26) to autism (p.40), and from mental health (p.55) to PMLD (p.60). There is also a useful guide for families on exactly how to seek redress in the event of a problem with a school (p.70).

There remains, though, a very real fear that the opportunity will be squandered or, worse still, that cuts to services will force many of those with SEN and their families into even greater isolation and hardship.

As always, you can follow the latest from the world of SEN on our website ( or join the debate on our Facebook and Twitter pages. If you have an opinion or experience to share, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.


SEN news


What’s new?


Point of view


SEN reforms


Dual or multiple exceptional children

26 Dyslexia 30

Alternative approaches to dyslexia


Equine therapy


Creative arts

40 Autism 47

The end of School Action


The role of the SENCO


Spina bifida


Mental health and SEN

60 PMLD 66 Behaviour 70

How to complain about schools


About SEN Magazine


Book reviews

76 Recruitment 78

CPD and training


SEN resources directory


SEN subscriptions

CONTRIBUTORS Lilias Ahmeira Rachel Allan

Peter Sutcliffe: Editor

Maria Chivers Martha Evans Alex Mason Ali Mawle

Contacts DIRECTOR Jeremy Nicholls EDITOR Peter Sutcliffe 01200 409 810 ADVERTISING SALES Denise Williamson - Sales Manager 01200 409 808 MARKETING & ADMINISTRATION Anita Crossley 01200 409 802

Mary Mountstephen Subscription Administrator Amanda Harrison 01200 409 801 DESIGN Rob Parry - Next issue deadline: Advertising and news deadline: 3 December 2012

Margaret Pazdzierski Lorraine Petersen Gobi Ranganathan Amelia Roberts Alison Ryan Janet Trebilcock Trisha Waters


Maggie Wilson

The opinions expressed in SEN Magazine are not necessarily those

Patrick Wilson

of the publisher. The publisher cannot be held liable for incorrect information, omissions or the opinions of third parties.

Denise Yates

SEN Magazine Ltd. Chapel House, 5 Shawbridge Street, Clitheroe, BB7 1LY T: 01200 409800 F: 01200 409809 W: E:

SEN Magazine ISSN: 1755-4845


In this issue

Autism 18



Mental Health

Meeting the SEN challenge


How will Government SEN reforms affect schools?



Young, gifted and special The complex world of the dual or multiple exceptional child


Know your brain


Alternative approaches to dyslexia

From the art Reaching out to children with PMLD through multisensory arts workshops


A brief history of autism


Farewell to School Action


How to complain about schools Where can parents seek redress if they are unhappy with a school?

Regulars 6


SEN news What's new? The latest products and ideas from the world of SEN

Point of view Your opinions aired

Will the abolition of School Action leave many children without the support they need?


The changing role of the SENCO

76 Recruitment

Is a difficult job about to get harder?


Feelings into words Using therapeutic storywriting to help troubled children deal with their emotions


The big ideas that have shaped our ever-changing understanding of autism


Unlocking lives

Riding high How equine therapy is transforming the lives of children on the autistic spectrum


Healthy mind, everybody

A multi-disciplinary approach to PMLD

Can ideas from complementary and alternative medicine help those with dyslexia?




Supporting the mental health needs of pupils with complex SEN

Understanding the workings of the dyslexic brain


Nov • Dec 2012 • Issue 61


Follow us on

CPD and training Your essential guide to SEN courses, seminars and events

Part of the team How an inclusive education taught one student to deal with his spina bifida and achieve at school

Book reviews


Visit us at:

SEN resources directory

Join us on

18 SEN reforms 22 Dual or multiple exceptional children

26 Dyslexia 38 Creative arts

In the next issue of SEN:

autism • assistive technology CReSTeD/dyslexia • post-16 options outdoor activities • hearing impairment wheelchairs/mobility • Down syndrome SEN overseas and much more...



Government’s SEN legislation revealed The Government has published draft legislation on its reform of provision for children and young people with SEN which will be included in the Children and Families Bill, expected in 2013. This follows the Department for Education’s (DfE’s) SEN Green Paper, Support and Aspiration, of March 2011 and its Next Steps document published in May 2012. As expected, the proposals include a duty for local authorities and health services to work together on joint commissioning of provision for children and young people with SEN and a requirement for local authorities to publish details of provision available in their area. Parents are to be given the option of a personal budget to buy-in provision for their child. The right to support for those with SEN between the ages of 16 and 25 years is to be extended and further education colleges and all academies are to have the same duties as maintained schools to provide educational support for children and young people with SEN. The Draft legislation on Reform of provision for children and young people with Special Educational Needs can be found at:

Families losing battle for support Families with disabled children are at “breaking point” because they are not getting the support they need. Following the publication of the Government’s draft Children and Families Bill, a number of leading charities have come together to warn of a chronic shortage of services at a local level. The charities, including Scope, The National Autistic Society, Sense, 4Children and The Family and Parenting Institute, say that the changes in the Bill do not go far enough and will not protect those with disabilities and SEN from massive cuts to services. Scope has published a new report, Keep Us Close, based on the experiences of 600 parents of disabled children. The report shows that 62 per cent of families with disabled children are not getting critical support such as childcare or nursery places, appropriate schools, essential therapies or even healthcare in their local area. Nearly half of parents (49 per cent) said they had to wait a long time before they received any support. The process of getting their child the right services was described by 60 per cent of respondents as a “battle”. Of the families who were unable to access services locally, 80 per cent said it caused them stress and anxiety. More than half (51 per cent) said it had a negative impact on their ability to work and meant they missed out on family activities, such as birthdays and playing together. Welcoming Scope’s report, Mark Lever, Chief Executive of the National Autistic Society, said that “too many parents of SENISSUE61

children with autism have to battle to get their needs recognised, understood and met.” Mark Goldring, Chief Executive of Mencap, echoed these sentiments, saying that people with learning disabilities and their families “have real fears about their finances in the future.” The draft Bill, the SEN Green Paper of 2011 and a number of other Government initiatives have done much to raise the profile of SEN and disability issues and place them on the political agenda, yet many campaigners fear that ministers are missing the chance to push through the kinds of reforms that would make a dramatic difference to the lives of young people and their families. “The Government has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to end the daily struggle parents of disabled children face”, says Richard Hawkes, Chief Executive of Scope. However, he warns that at the moment, the Bill “doesn’t go far enough and won’t plug the gaps in local services that families with disabled children desperately need.”


Schools to lead on safeguarding Primary schools should play a greater role in safeguarding vulnerable children, says the Children’s Commissioner Maggie Atkinson. Against the backdrop of cuts to services and changes in government guidance and legislation, schools must become more involved in spotting and helping children at risk of abuse or neglect.

NICE standards in autism care The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) is to produce quality standards for the care of those with autism. NICE quality standards set out what the Institute calls “aspirational but achievable care through measurable statements and indicators.” The move is part of the expansion of NICE’s remit to include social care. The Department of Health has agreed an initial list of joint NHS/social care topics for NICE to start working on. In addition to autism, these will include transition between health and social care, child maltreatment and transition between children and adult services, as well as other areas primarily affecting older people. The move follows proposals set out in the recent Care and Support White Paper to improve the quality of care and support, integrate services and ensure a more consistent approach across the country. NICE will seek to develop a stronger evidence base to determine what high-quality care looks like for service users, care providers and those commissioning services. The agency will consult with the care and support sector, people using care and support, and their families and carers, before publishing its standards for autism in 2013/14.

Ms Atkinson commissioned the NSPCC to conduct a review of safeguarding in schools, looking at best practice and how schools work with outside agencies. The report points to early identification as the key to helping children most at risk. It says that teachers are uniquely placed to spot potential issues with pupils and drive the safeguarding process forward. Alongside the report, You have someone to trust - Outstanding safeguarding practice in primary schools, the Children’s Commissioner has also published practical tips for teachers based on the NSPCC findings. While the Commissioner believes that most primary schools “do a good job identifying and supporting children recognised as vulnerable and at risk”, more needs to be done by schools as cuts to local council services take effect, potentially placing greater numbers of children at risk. “This report and the accompanying practical tips for schools come at a time when local authorities and other support agencies are under financial pressure which is impacting on support services, and many families are facing greater challenges in the current economic climate”, says Ms Atkinson. Together, the documents are aimed at helping education professionals identify and support children they are concerned about and develop a whole school approach to safeguarding. The report and practical tips document can be found at:

New model for AAC provision A new model for delivering augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) equipment to those who have difficulty speaking is being championed by AAC specialists Communication Matters. Welcoming the Government’s decision to accept the recommendation of the Clinical Advisory Group for Prescribed Services that specialised AAC services and equipment should be nationally commissioned from April 2013, the charity is urging ministers to adopt a new “hub and spoke” model for service delivery. This which would see NHS commissioning boards take responsibility for the most complex AAC cases via regional hubs, while local health and wellbeing boards commission the vast majority of services. The charity’s Chair, Janice Murray, argues that AAC provision is currently subject to a “postcode lottery”, with a shortage of

specialist professionals and constant battles between education and health services over whose responsibility it is to meet local AAC needs. “Every person has the right to a voice, yet many people are currently being deprived of this because they aren’t being supplied with the equipment and support services which enable them to speak”, says Dr Murray. The charity estimates that 260,000 children and adults will need AAC at some point in their lives, with around ten per cent of those with the most complex needs requiring access to specialised AAC services and equipment. The “hub and spoke” model has been developed by Communication Matters in association with the Government’s former Communication Champion Jean Gross. SENISSUE61




New exams discriminate against dyslexics The new English Baccalaureate Certificate, which is to replace GCSE examinations, will have a detrimental effect on those with specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia, claims a leading charity. Under plans announced by Education Secretary Michael Gove, the GCSE’s mix of external exams, course work and internal assessment will be replaced by a single external exam at the end of the course. The British Dyslexia Association (BDA) is concerned that the new exam will severely disadvantage learners with dyslexia who do not perform at their best in exams. Many people with dyslexia have problems processing information quickly and accessing and recording written information. These difficulties can be exacerbated by stress in examination conditions, making it hard for students with dyslexia to fully demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of a subject in a one-off, timed examination. “These plans will create an additional barrier for dyslexic students to continue on to higher education”, says Dr Kate Saunders, the charity’s CEO. “Course work is generally a much fairer method of assessment and constitutes a reasonable adjustment for these students”. The English Baccalaureate Certificate is due to be introduced for the core subjects of English, maths and sciences from 2015, with the first candidates taking the new exams in 2017. The Government is planning to introduce the Certificate for history, geography and languages at a later date, and is currently consulting on including other subjects in the programme.

Don’t scrap GCSEs, say teachers Only 22 per cent of teachers in England support the Government’s plans to scrap GCSEs in favour of the new English Baccalaureate Qualification, and 50 per cent oppose the change, according to a new survey. The results of the YouGov poll show that teachers are particularly concerned at the loss of the continuous assessment element in GCSE’s. Under the new Qualification, grades will be based solely on final examination, but 74 per cent of teachers in England believe that results should reflect a combination of exams and coursework. A recent public opinion poll by YouGov showed little support for the Government’s proposals outside of education circles, with 64 per cent of the public saying they prefer the old system of combining final exams and coursework, and only 28 per cent supporting the change to basing marks solely on a final exam. SENISSUE61

Pupil premium is not working Schools are failing to use money from the pupil premium to provide extra support to pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds, says a new report by Ofsted. While the funding is provided to help schools improve outcomes and raise achievement for these pupils, many schools are subsuming pupil premium funding in their general budgets and using it to maintain or enhance existing provision. The report, The Pupil Premium, found that the most common use of the funding was to pay for classroom support staff, with over two fifths of school leaders surveyed saying that they used the money to pay for existing or new teaching assistants. Half of schools said that the pupil premium was making little or no difference to the way they work. The pupil premium, introduced in April 2011, currently provides schools with £600 a year for each student eligible for school meals or in care. While schools are free to spend the money as they see fit, the Government is clearly keen to ensure that the extra funding is being targeted at those pupils it is intended to help. As of September this year, it is requiring schools to publish online information about how they have used the premium. Ofsted has also announced that, in future, its inspections will pay closer attention to how effectively schools are using the pupil premium to make a difference for disadvantaged pupils, and how governors are holding schools to account for this spending. In a statement, the Government’s education watchdog says it “will be critical of schools that are not achieving well for their disadvantaged pupils”.

New child mental health initiative The Department of Health is to fund a consortium of experts to deliver a £2.2m educational and advice programme to improve mental health outcomes for children. Based around an online interactive portal, the initiative will aim to support professionals to identify the signs of mental health issues and speed up diagnoses. Targeted at those working in the NHS, early years, education, social work and the police, the scheme will also seek to ensure that the messages professionals give to children and young people about mental health are consistent and concise. The consortium will be headed by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and will also include the National Children’s Bureau, children’s charity YoungMinds, Royal College of Psychiatrists, Royal College of Nursing, Royal College of General Practitioners, and British Psychological Society. The e-portal, due to be launched in Spring 2014, will provide e-training resources tailored to both health professionals and non-health professionals working with children and young people. It will also include aids to evaluate outcomes, and suggestions for appropriate therapies and additional resources to support treatment. The consortium will work alongside The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, which will deliver e-learning materials relating to counselling for the programme.


Communication is the key for deaf children

Help for schools with dyslexia and SpLD

Ofsted has produced a guide to best practice in services supporting deaf children. It highlights the importance of access to wellcoordinated support across a range of agencies.

A free online resource has been developed to help education professionals understand the skills and knowledge they need to support those with dyslexia and specific learning difficulties (SpLD).

Service provision must be grounded in the principal that all deaf children have an entitlement to communicate and be communicated with which is fundamental to their development and progress, the report says. Communication is the key examined practice in services supporting deaf children in three local authorities. It found that early diagnosis and timely support of those identified with hearing impairments were crucial, citing the example of children diagnosed as deaf shortly after birth benefitting from the newborn hearing screening programme. Inspectors reported that communication was well-established between health and specialist education support services in each of the authorities visited. They also discovered examples of effective working across local authority boundaries to enable children to attend the right school for them. When children were diagnosed early, placed in the right school, with parent or carer involvement and with the right support, deaf children could achieve just as well as their hearing peers, Ofsted found. While the report includes many examples of effective cooperation between agencies, it recognises that some deaf children do not get a joined-up service and that provision can be patchy. The National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) has gone further, with a spokesperson for the charity claiming that many deaf children “are invisible on the social care radar in many areas, before cuts come into force.” The charity fears that proposed changes to social care guidance and further cuts to local services “threaten to make a bad situation worse”. In the next issue of SEN Magazine Jo Campion, Deputy Director of Campaigns at the NDCS, will discuss the implications of Ofsted’s report and the likelihood of local authorities being able to meet the best practice standards it sets out.

follow us on join us on

The Professional Development Framework, commissioned by the Department for Education and designed by Dyslexia Action and PATOSS, is a self-assessment tool providing users with a personalised report based on a gap-analysis of their confidence in key areas related to dyslexia and SpLD. This report defines the levels of expertise, understanding and professional competencies that are required to fulfil relevant job roles in the school. It also provides suggestions for appropriate continuing professional development (CPD), including key books and articles, resources, work place activities and online resources. The Framework can be accessed at:

Epilepsy education award Nominations are open for Young Epilepsy’s newly-launched Champions Awards. The charity is seeking to recognise the outstanding contribution that many individuals and organisations make towards improving the lives of young people with epilepsy. There are ten Awards up for grabs, with one focussing specifically on education. The Education Award is for anyone working in the sector, including SENCOs, teachers, teaching assistants and headteachers. The winners will be announced on 26 March 2013 at a ceremony in London. Awards will be presented by Philip Martin-Brown, from TV’s Waterloo Road, who has epilepsy. The charity launched the Awards at its recent Complex Epilepsy conference in Solihull. For more information and to make a nomination, visit:

For the latest news, articles, SEN resources, CPD and events listings, visit:





Toolkit to promote inclusive sport A new online toolkit has been developed to help sports clubs improve opportunities and provision for those with disabilities. The English Federation of Disability Sport (EFDS) has unveiled its free-to-use Inclusion Club Hub, which includes an audit tool so that clubs can find out how inclusive they are, and resources to support club development. The Hub also provides information on technical issues and help with areas such as planning and developing a club action plan. The toolkit contains case studies and better practice examples, so clubs can learn from others and adapt their practice accordingly. Recent research by the EFDS, Understanding the Barriers to Participation, revealed that there are a number of minor improvements a club can make to help disabled people feel more comfortable and welcome. Examples include, “being open and direct towards disabled people, asking the level of support needed to be able to take part in the sport and slightly amending standard practices.” For more information, visit:

Baroness Grey-Thompson (centre front row) with Energy Club leaders.

Baroness Grey-Thompson launches kids’ lifestyle initiative Paralympic legend Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson was at the House of Commons in October to launch Energy Club, an extracurricular physical activity scheme for children aged between four and 11 years old. Energy Club aims to ensure a lasting legacy from the Olympic and Paralympic Games by tackling the increasingly sedentary lifestyles of young children. Targeting primary schools across the UK, Energy Club offers free activity sessions which include healthy eating and nutrition messaging led by a trained volunteer force. Volunteers are being recruited by the charity and social enterprise Sports Leaders UK, of which Baroness Grey-Thompson is President. Volunteers will be parents and members of school networks, including young adults and recruits from major corporations.

Spellathon goes live online The annual spelling competition organised by learning disability charity Mencap is now live online. Schools are invited to sign up for Spellathon, where pupils can compete against their peers, other classes and schools across the UK.

“Energy Club is an exciting opportunity as our country moves forward from a fantastic summer of sport”, said Baroness GreyThompson. “This scheme builds on the great volunteer movement we saw during the Games”. The new programme is being funded by the Government’s Cabinet Office through the Social Action Fund with an initial grant of £900,000, which provides the scheme for 900 schools. To increase its reach, the project will need to attract additional funding from the commercial sector.

A cash prize of £10,000, donated by the event’s online partner Digital Giving Ltd, is up for grabs for the school raising the most money per pupil. Spellathon offers a range of interactive games which include more than 10,000 words on which children can be tested. The games feature animated bees voiced by Stephen Fry and actress Jodie Whittaker. The site also includes resources for teachers to help improve their pupils’ spelling ability.

News deadline

Deadline for news items for next issue: 03/12/2012 Email: Tel: 01200 409810

More information is available at: SENISSUE61


Kids are not getting unsupervised outdoor play This summer, nearly three-quarters (72 per cent) of children of primary school age either did not go outside to play unsupervised at all or went only “a few times”, according to a new survey by online research provider Lightspeed Research. This is despite the fact that 85 per cent of respondents said they live within a 15 minute walk of a municipal park or other child-oriented playing area that can be accessed for free.

New animations to empower deaf young people

The survey found that while parents are keen for their children to enjoy unsupervised play, their concerns about safety mean that they are reluctant to let children go off and do their own thing.

The National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) has produced three new animations aimed at giving deaf teenagers better information about the support available to them when they are making decisions about their future. The animations, produced in conjunction with deaf young people, focus on key times in the lives of young people, including exam time, making a decision on college and deciding whether to take an apprenticeship.

Of the 1000 adults surveyed, 38 per cent said their children are not allowed to play outside without supervision. More than threequarters of these parents (76 per cent) said that this is because their children are simply too young to be unsupervised outside the home, while 50 per cent cited “stranger danger” and 31 per cent fear of accidents as the primary reason.

The project was launched in response to the latest figures showing the attainment gap between deaf and hearing children, which revealed that 60 per cent of deaf children fail to get 5 GCSEs at grades A* to C, compared to 30 per cent of hearing children. Research by the National Foundation for Educational Research also showed that parents’ aspirations for their deaf children fall short of their realistic expectations: 66 per cent of parents of deaf children said they hoped their child would go to university but only 22 per cent thought this would actually happen.

Adults said they would be less cautious if unsupervised play was made safer, with 74 per cent of all respondents supporting the idea of local authorities closing a small number of streets for short periods during the summer holidays to allow children to play unsupervised with one or two adults present. If such a scheme were available, 81 per cent of adults said they would allow their children to play in the street.

The animations are available at:

Teaching Awards honour PMLD champion

Nowhere to turn for teenage self-harmers

A headteacher from Ayr has been recognised by the prestigious Teaching Awards for her work with children with profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD). At a star-studded ceremony Lorraine with her Lifetime in London this October, Achievement Award. Lorraine Stobie, Headteacher of Southcraig Campus, was presented with the Ted Wragg Award for Lifetime Achievement.

Most young people and their parents do not know how to find support if they are involved in self-harm. Despite a dramatic increase in the number of teenager self-harming over the last ten years, three quarters of young people do not know who to talk to about the issue, while a third of parents say they would not seek professional help if their child was self-harming. These are the finding of new research conducted by pharmaceutical and health marketing company Cello, in partnership with UK mental health charity YoungMinds. The study, talking self-harm, also reports that nearly half of GPs feel that they don’t understand young people who self-harm, while two thirds of teachers do not know what to say to young self-harmers. In response to the report’s findings, the charity has put together a set of recommendations for parents, teachers, peers and health professionals on how to best identify and support at-risk and self-harming teens. The full report is available at:

Lorraine is well known throughout Scotland and beyond as an expert in the education of children and young people with PMLD and complex physical conditions. During a 35-year career in her hometown of Ayr, she has been an inspirational leader who has challenged the previously held view that some children could not be educated. Many of Southcraig’s pupils suffer from life-limiting conditions and Lorraine has become an expert in bereavement and ways to support families when children die. The judging panel referred to the “immense impact” of Lorraine’s work locally, nationally and internationally. Colleagues described her as “a visionary” who is much admired and widely respected. SENISSUE61




What’s new?

A dream tour of cave systems and subterranean cities

Henshaws welcomes head of Education Funding Agency

RSD Travel Ltd is running an exciting and breathtakingly beautiful journey of discovery to Cappadocia. An area of outstanding natural beauty, Cappadocia represents the perfect symbiosis of humankind and nature. Led by professionally qualified RSD travel guides, you will be able to gain a vivid and fascinating impression of Christian history.

As part of a visit to discuss the challenges ahead for funding students with disabilities at specialist colleges, Peter Lauener, the Head of the Education Funding Agency, recently spent a morning at Henshaws College.

One highlight of the tour is Göreme, famous for its cave churches. This unique complex of rock formations was listed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985. For more information about RSD’s tours, call: 0800 323 4811 or visit:

Load2Learn – helping staff support learners with difficulties reading standard print, the new online service delivered by Dyslexia Action and RNIB, now has over 1700 downloadable, accessible curriculum materials for all key stages. It helps staff support learners who struggle to read standard print (dyslexic, partially sighted or blind) to access text more easily. It also offers over 1000 images for download, along with digital books in different formats (word, audio, Braille). It enables students to work more independently, improving selfconfidence and increasing learning. Load2Learn can also help schools meet the requirements around the Equality Act (2010). Tel: 0300 303 8313, email: or visit:

Experia announce sensory first Experia has announced the launch of the Sensory Express, the world’s first train themed portable sensory solution. Designed to be fun, exciting and educational, the Sensory Express includes state-of-theart sensory equipment that can be used to develop a variety of life skills, such as cause and effect, colour recognition, vocalisation, tracking, and fine and gross motor skills. Its appearance delights and attracts children of all ages and abilities encouraging anticipation and helping to create a willingness to learn. For more information, visit: SENISSUE61

He witnessed first-hand how Henshaws is using assistive technology to support students. Third year student Nathan uses eye gaze technology to communicate and invited Mr Lauener to try the device for himself. This quickly highlighted the level of determination and support required to use this technology successfully. Mr Lauener also enjoyed hearing students talk about their enthusiasm for sport following the Paralympics.

Rewarding experiences for Wilsic Hall students Wilsic Hall School prides itself on how it prepares its students for the complex world of work. Students are given regular opportunities to gain knowledge and understanding of work and enterprise. Students learn for work by developing skills for enterprise and employability, and go on to learn through work with opportunities provided in school and the local area. Students have recently undertaken work experience in offices, retail establishments, cycle repair workshops and elderly care homes. These experiences are not only rewarding for the students but they also enable the wider community to gain a better knowledge of the young people Wilsic Hall supports.

Team Teach training from Protocol Education With so many schools asking Protocol Education for professionals trained in Team Teach, it was only a matter of time before they took matters into their own hands. Trisha Brook, Protocol’s special needs and support training expert explains: “We realised that the only way we could hope to keep up was by becoming trainers ourselves. We are now able to train teachers and support workers in Team Teach and now hold regular training sessions across the country to make sure there is a steady supply of candidates for all of our schools.” For more information, visit:


Anna Kennedy scoops Mumpreneur award Anna Kennedy OBE, the autism campaigner and founder of Hillingdon Manor School, has won the Mumpreneur UK 2012 award, while Anna Kennedy online was also shortlisted for Best Interactive Service. Each year, Mumpreneur UK present awards to some of the UK's most inspiring women who are both mums and successful in business. The 2012 awards ceremony in Warwickshire was attended by a host of inspirational women, including fashion guru Karen Millen OBE, Claire Young, a finalist from The Apprentice, and Anne Summers’ Managing Director Vanessa Gold. For more information, visit:

CapturaTalk for Android™ CapturaTalk for Android™ is the ultimate literacy support tool to help build word recognition, vocabulary skills and reading fluency. Whether you are in education or simply need assistance with reading, CapturaTalk for Android™ is the solution for all your needs. • Type and speak with the talking word processor • Web, PDF and eBook reading with synchronised colour highlighting • Translate text into over 20 languages • Add voice notes • Save text as audio files • OCR to take a picture and hear the words read aloud • Fully integrated dictionary • Free 30 day trial at:

Easy and funny SEN action songs CD SEN Music Stars have released a new CD and book with action songs created specially for children with SEN. Suitable from Year 1 to post-16 SLD, it has been described by one special school teacher as “one of the best ready-made resources I’ve found for my pupils”. Music Stars have an introductory offer: buy the CD only and have the words emailed to you (thereby saving postage). To take advantage, send your name, address and email address, with a cheque for £6 payable to “Sutton Arts”, to Batts Farm, Batts Lane, Long Sutton, Somerset TA10 9EQ. For more information and to listen to samples, visit:


Prestigious award for OKI printers The new range of OKI single function colour and mono printers, and the multifunction devices, has won the coveted PC Pro Excellence award in the category for best laser after outstanding scores of 97 per cent for print quality and an industry leading score of 91 per cent for reliability. More than 11,000 readers voted in this year’s survey rating each product or service on a number of factors, such as performance, reliability or value for money. These answers were converted to numeric values to obtain percentage scores for each category, and derive an overall score. For more information, see:

Project X CODE powers the Oxfordshire Reading Campaign Project X CODE is the chosen intervention programme of the Oxfordshire Reading Campaign, launched at a Headteachers’ Conference on 24 September 2012. Oxfordshire Reading Campaign focuses on improving reading standards. The campaign includes high quality training on best practice implementation of Project X CODE resources for maximum impact on reading ability, delivered by experts from Edge Hill University. An independent review of school trials by Dr Ros Fisher, University of Exeter, found that one term of Project X CODE led to an average 8.7 month rise in phonics age, and a 6.8 month increase in sentence reading age.

Lesson capture has arrived When Soundfield was first introduced, it heralded a new approach to classroom learning. Now, as technology develops at a startling rate, it is only right that our classrooms should keep pace. Video lesson capture has arrived and thankfully it is seriously simple. Your voice is recorded straight through the Juno Soundifeld system and synced seamlessly with visuals captured from the active whiteboard. The ability to record lessons and post them onto a student intranet for home viewing is promising to totally revolutionise the way precious lesson time is used. For more information, visit: SENISSUE61



Specialist SEN recruitment from Engage

Enterprising students at LVS Hassocks

Engage SEN is the new specialist recruitment service for schools seeking teachers and support staff to work with children with SEN in both special and mainstream settings.   Engage Partners, the creators of Engage Education and iday, are established market leaders in the placement of day to day, long term and permanent staff for schools. Engage SEN now aims to provide this sensitive, professional and needs-led approach to schools looking for the special skills and characteristics they require for their SEN or alternative provision.   For more details, call 0333 800 7800 or visit:

Students in the work skills department at LVS Hassocks are developing their business skills with the help of a new shop opened by the Autism Trust. The shop is selling items such as greeting cards, candles and calendars made by the students from the West Sussex specialist school.

New text-to-speech web apps Anytime, anywhere literacy support for dyslexic students is provided through Texthelp's range of cloud-based text-tospeech web apps for reading, writing, studying and research on the go. Designed to work on a wide range of devices, including the iPad, iPod Touch, iPhone, smart phones, PCs and Macs, the apps support multiple browsers, providing instant access to these powerful support tools. Texthelp web apps provide users with support and quick access to Read&Write GOLD features. The collection also boasts rich functionality, integrating seamlessly with the world wide web. For a free trial of the Texthelp web apps, tel: 028 9442 8105, email: or visit:

Planning for the future events Parents and families of people with a learning disability can make a difference to the future financial security of their loved ones by careful planning in their will. As well as providing free booklets about writing wills and setting up trusts, Mencap's wills and trusts team organise free events around England, Wales and Northern Ireland for families and carers. The two-hour events offer vital, specialist legal advice about writing a will and setting up a trust for the benefit of someone with a learning disability.   To find your nearest event in 2012, visit: or call: 020 7696 6925. SENISSUE61

The group have worked together as a team taking the pictures and designing the calendar, planning how to package their items and working out how much to sell them for. “The students have worked really hard and are very excited about seeing their products on the shop’s shelves”, said a teacher at the school.

HRH The Princess Royal officially opens RNIB Pears Centre On 13 September 2012, Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal officially opened RNIB Pears Centre for Specialist Learning in Coventry. The Centre offers individually-tailored education, care and therapies to children and young people with complex needs who are blind or partially sighted. The Princess toured the new facilities, meeting young people and enjoying a short performance they had prepared, before unveiling a plaque to formally open the centre. The purpose-built school and bungalows are fully accessible with specialist facilities including multi-sensory rooms, classrooms for art, technology and music, a library and physiotherapy and mobility areas.

Tackling sensory processing the easy way An innovative approach that aims to improve attention, language processing and emotional wellbeing by activating each brain-half separately using sounds through headphones, the Sensory Activation Solutions (SAS) method is easy to apply, non-invasive and cost-effective. It can help with conditions such as ADHD, APD, dyslexia and autism. Every individual course is specifically tailored to the age, condition and needs of each client. The SAS method is available through practitioners in the UK, Turkey and Australia or via the internet. Training for therapists and educational professionals is available. Tel: 020 3239 4880 or visit:




Promotional feature

£220,000 play forest is ideal inclusive facility A showcase playground installed six years ago is continuing to have a positive impact on the community, particularly for a group of children and young people with learning and physical disabilities. The £220,000 Cutsyke Play Forest, supplied by experts in play Sutcliffe Play, was a community scheme that was part of The Castleford Project, a major regeneration initiative between Channel 4, Wakefield Council and supporting agencies. Mike Smith, part of the Council’s Leisure Link team, has been a regular visitor to the Cutsyke Play Forest. “Our team supports children and young people with a range of learning and physical disabilities, as well as those with sensory impairments and works to introduce them to ‘mainstream’ leisure services in the local community”, he says. “We use Cutsyke with both individuals and groups and our young people respond positively to the opportunities it offers. The variety of equipment at Cutsyke suits the differing abilities of our young people as it provides challenges, and the potential for achievement at different levels. Some find it therapeutic and sensorial to lie down on the cargo nets, some enjoy developing balance and coordination skills, and others love the challenge of climbing and sliding. The play park’s layout and location make it an ideal safe environment for our young people.” The play forest was designed by Leeds-based landscape designers Estell Warren and was chosen by local children from a number of schemes submitted by competing designers. The four-hundred-square-metres play forest comprises overlapping grids of 6m and 3m high poles. Nets and equipment are located between them, creating a unique three dimensional environment with “no way in, no way out and no prescribed routes to follow”. It also boasts two very large tunnel slides, a unique four metre high platform and LED topped light-up poles. Mike Smith concludes: “One of the most rewarding elements I’ve found at Cutsyke is that it helps integrate our young people with the local children. We have also found that it helps promote understanding of disabilities, as kids love to ask questions.” For more information: 01977 653 200



point of view

Point of view: grandparent

Talking therapy

Margaret Pazdzierski explains how dedicated therapy and support are helping her granddaughter overcome a reluctance to speak


hen my granddaughter started nursery, aged 27 months, we hoped that it would encourage her to talk, as at that stage her only words had been “yes” and “no”. The nursery staff did their best but without success, so her parents took her to a talking toddlers group, hoping that this would do the trick. After several months, the other children were making progress, but not so my granddaughter. At the age of three, she transferred to the local nursery/infant school, still unable to say more than half a dozen words, but otherwise a bright, lively and sociable child. She enjoyed nursery school and seemed to be popular, despite only being able to communicate by gestures and repeated “uh, uh” sounds. A speech and language therapist came to the school on a regular basis to work with her, and this helped to some degree, but she was still only able to add one or two words to her spoken vocabulary. Aged four, my granddaughter was referred to a neurologist who thought she might have Worster-Drought syndrome, a rare condition in which the part of the brain controlling the muscles involved in speech has not developed properly. The neurologist suggested an MRI scan in order to make a formal diagnosis, but since there is no treatment for the condition, her parents decided against putting her through the ordeal of a scan. Three months later, my granddaughter was fortunate enough to be referred to an early years language centre in


Sheffield, where she was described for the first time as having a specific speech and language impairment. There are many reasons why children who appear to have average or above average intelligence levels, and whose development is otherwise age appropriate, may have such an impairment. At the centre, a team of two specialist teachers and two speech and language therapists spend four halfdays per week working with a maximum number of eight children between the

She soon began attempting new sounds, and her vocabulary gradually increased ages of three and five, for a term of eleven weeks. The team direct the children in games and activities based around communication, using spoken language, Makaton signing and sheets of Rebus symbols. The games and activities are varied and imaginative, intended to teach the children how to behave in various social settings as well as to encourage communication. These include role play in the improvised settings of, for example, a hairdressing salon, a hospital, a kitchen or a building site. There are books, puzzles, sand and water play areas, dressing-up costumes and puppets. There are also parent sessions where staff discuss the

children’s progress with parents and suggest ways in which the children can be encouraged to develop. Initially, many of the children are reluctant to attempt speaking because they are used to being surrounded by their more articulate peers, but in a nurturing and non-competitive atmosphere, where all the children are at a similar level, their confidence grows. Also, unlike mainstream school or nursery, where children are expected to be quiet for much of the time, they are positively encouraged to chatter as much as possible. My granddaughter had seemed reluctant to try new words before attending the centre, but she soon began attempting new sounds, and her vocabulary gradually increased to over 60 words. She also started linking two words together, for example “I like” and “no more”. She will be five in October and will move on to full-time school in September, but the staff at the centre will continue to keep in touch. They have arranged for various support systems to be put in place for her at school, and her communication book will be an invaluable aid, as will her continuing speech and language therapy sessions. The experience of my granddaughter shows just how much can be achieved with the right diagnosis and the right therapy. It is our hope that the significant boost she has received from such dedicated support will continue to help her progress throughout her schooling.

point of view

Point of view: former SEN pupil

Bridging the divide Alex Mason tells the intriguing tale of how a dysphasic pupil became a budding writer


ighteen months ago, I graduated from university with a Masters Degree in Creative Writing. I wore the gown, I received the bow from the Vice Chancellor and had my picture taken, just like the rest of my classmates. All of this sounds pretty normal, except that at one time, the very idea of me becoming a writer was, quite frankly, laughable. About twenty years ago, I was diagnosed with dysphasia and spent a number of years in a specialist SEN school where I undertook speech and language development classes. I suppose I could therefore be described as something of a success story. I am writing this article because I want to show parents that a learning disability doesn’t necessarily mean that a child will not be successful and able to achieve the things s/he wants to. Dysphasia is a language comprehension disability that is normally associated with the elderly. In my case, the condition affected all elements of communication, from speech through to reading and writing. In short, I found the physical act of communicating incredibly difficult – I would learn to speak but my voice would be garbled; I would try to write and my hand would simply fail to do so. It is very hard to describe the condition to someone who has not experienced it. The best analogy I can think of is that of a bridge over a canyon separating two towns. One of

the towns is your mind and the other the world. The bridge represents the physical act of communicating in all its forms. Dysphasia is akin to having that bridge fall apart. The two towns are untouched but there is no way to cross the divide. Today, the canyon is bridged by numerous ropes and pulleys – tricks and techniques that I was taught to overcome my disabilities. Managing my condition was beyond the skills of mainstream education. Much of my success is due to the

If I had lived a mere 20 miles away, I would not have received the care and help that I did constant battling and sheer tenacity of my parents, who fought to get me into a specialist school that would give me the tools to function within conventional education. The fact that they had to struggle so hard is deeply worrying. I only discovered, after talking to my father more recently, the extent of the archaic and downright disgraceful system in place during the 1980s. If I had lived a mere 20 miles away, I would not have received the level of care and help that I did, due to the inconsistent approach to SEN facilities across county lines. Although the situation is much improved today, it is clear that a

postcode lottery still exists in certain parts of the country. Whilst I was very fortunate and got the help I needed, there must have been many people my age that did not, and were therefore denied educational success simply through geography. This is clearly unacceptable. I am not trying to say that given the right tools, every child with SEN can achieve a masters degree. However, I do believe that a child should have the right to the services and specialist support that would give him/her the best possible chance in the real world. It should not be accidents of geography or the ability of parents to fight their corner that determine which child gets one of the (too few) specialist places available. As my case demonstrates, care and dedication can massively improve a child’s chances in this world. Specialist support not only allowed me to overcome my language problems, it also enabled me to discover, despite everything, that the written and spoken word was my true passion. Now, far from being unable to write, it is increasingly difficult for me to stop! So, I urge parents of those with SEN never to give up. After all, your determination is the most important gift you can ever give to your child.

If you have a point of view to share on any SEN issue, please email:




sen reforms

Meeting the SEN challenge Alison Ryan looks at how the Government’s SEN reforms will impact on schools, and what it all means for teachers


hatever is happening in the world of education policy, schools are busy fulfilling their role

of educating children and young people, providing an environment which allows and supports each pupil’s achievement of their full learning potential. Schools strive to provide teaching which ensures high-quality learning opportunities for all pupils, involving parents and carers in supporting that learning, building networks with other schools to ensure breadth and efficiency of their education offer, and working with other agencies to support the whole child. It’s a rich role, which encompasses

Quality teaching is central to the role of schools.

all pupils, whatever needs they have. However, even before one considers the impact of the Government’s forthcoming

the Government will no longer require

SEN reforms, the fulfilment of schools’

teachers to have qualified teacher status

role is already being challenged by severe

in our schools, subject expertise now

financial cuts across all public services.

seemingly trumping knowledge of

The environment that schools can

pedagogy or child development.

What should be extra funding for those with additional needs is being used to plug holes in existing budgets

provide, including the facilities they can

Reductions in staff, particularly

offer, has been challenged by the loss of

in support staff, have resulted in the

Building Schools for the Future funding

loss of pivotal staff roles that many

and real losses in budgets. We know that

schools had developed in order to build

this has negatively impacted on what the

strong relationships with parents and

and capacity of external agencies, such

pupil premium can achieve, resulting in

carers, to ensure their support of their

as health and social care, to schools.

what should be extra funding for those

child’s learning and in supporting the

with additional needs being used to plug

“whole child”.

holes in existing budgets in order to maintain an essential level of service.

We must be clear that schools are already facing some tough challenges

The weakening of the local authority

in ensuring that no pupil gets less than

(LA) model, alongside funding cuts, has

the high-quality learning experience

The quality of teaching is central to the

challenged LA-based across-school

and support they need and deserve,

role of schools, yet this summer saw the

partnerships, with the cuts having a

challenges that are particularly acute

Secretary of State’s announcement that

devastating effect on the accessibility

for those with SEN.


sen reforms

It is in this context that the SEN reforms are being trialled and introduced. There is also a pervading political assumption that schools currently overidentify SEN in their pupils. Correct and early identification of SEN in schools is an area in need of review. However, I believe it is simplistic, and serving of a

The Government seems to treat the voluntary and community sector as a cheap substitute for expensive resources

funding cuts agenda, to base reforms


the current supply-led culture, where a child or young person is fitted to the provision the service provider has available, to one based on their needs is a goal which must be met. However, the reforms’ answer, in the form of the personal budget offered to parents and young people with a plan, poses a huge logistical challenge, one which is

on a view that schools over-identify SEN

together of the different processes,

currently being side-stepped by many

in their pupils and that a narrow medical

which seems hardly conducive to the

of the areas within the pathfinders.

model of SEN is sufficient upon which

shortening of the process from the

The personal budget will not only be

to build a new system.

users’ perspective or to the reduction

difficult to implement and monitor on a

of bureaucracy.

local level but also provides schools and

An uncertain future

There are also fears that it is those

key workers with a significant challenge

The current system of statements is

in education who will end up having

in managing the expectations of parents

far from perfect; whilst being the Holy

to take the lead in these partnerships,

and carers, and in ensuring provision of

Grail for many parents and young people

as has happened previously. While the

up-to-date, comprehensive and relevant

with SEN themselves, a statement isn’t

principle of cross-agency ownership

information. Against the background of

seen as a package of support focused

of the plans is welcome, it is by no

service cuts, this challenge is likely to

on meeting the needs of that child or

means a guarantee, particularly as

be acute.

young person, and they frequently

education is the only sector which will

The SEN reforms place local

follow long and frustrating waiting times.

have a statutory obligation in relation

voluntary and community sector (VCS)

Statements often add little significant

to provision.

organisations at their heart, particularly

new information from schools about

Staff in schools, as well as pupils with

in relation to coordination of across-

those needs, and are not strong or

SEN and their families, will be greatly

sector working. The Government seems

clear enough on required provision from

helped by the key worker role. In some

reluctant to consider the capacity of the

services outside of education.

LA areas, this role will be in its infancy

voluntary and community sector (VCS)

Against this backdrop, the education,

and decisions still need to be made about

to take on this type of role. Currently,

health and care plan (EHCP) is a positive

the appropriate boundaries of the role

the pathfinders are addressing the issue

step forward, promoting a single (and

and the resulting skills and experience

of capacity by providing additional

one would assume, faster) assessment

which best fit with it. However, how will

resources to ensure the ability of the

process, bringing together the different

this role play out against the harsh reality

VCS sector to contribute, but the

agencies involved.

of fewer educational psychologists and

sustainability of that funding beyond

However, the recent report from the

reduced social care teams at local level,

the life of the pathfinder is by no means

pathfinder projects highlights the scale

and fewer support staff in schools? It is

assured. Schools already rely on and

of the challenge. The development of

to be hoped that the key worker role will

make good use of dedicated and often

the plan has to jump the multi-agency

not suffer from the pupil premium effect,

extremely well-qualified volunteers,

hurdles of competing priorities, different

making up for shortfalls elsewhere rather

but the Government seems to treat the

eligibility criteria, different assessment

than bringing something new and vital

VCS as a cheap substitute for expensive

processes, different care/support

to the table.

resources rather than as a valuable human asset.

pathways, different terminology and

The capacity of the sectors involved

professional language, and even

and the available funding for provision

incompatible IT systems. While the

are crucial to the ability of schools and

pathfinders have reported that there is

other agencies to meet the challenges

Developing teaching expertise

no lack of desire for the professionals to

set by the SEN reforms, just as they

Bringing it all back to schools, there’s

work together, their efforts are stymied

are to the ability of these partners to

no doubt that the level of expertise and

by lack of resources and capacity. So

meet the needs of children and young

experience amongst staff in relation

far, the initiative has not resulted in one

people with SEN in their area at any

to SEN is a key factor in ensuring the

joined-up process but rather the bringing

time. Moving from what is seen as




sen reforms

quality of learning experience for pupils with SEN, and I welcome the reform programme’s intention to ensure a greater focus on SEN in initial teacher education, continuing professional development (CPD) and leadership programmes. However, any programme around initial teacher education or CPD must

Unions must continue to defend vigorously their members’ interests and question government policy

build on evidence and on what is

commission and disseminate. Unions must continue, as always, to defend vigorously their members’ interests and question government policy on behalf of members and the pupils they serve, using member and research evidence to highlight problems and to propose solutions. The challenge set by the SEN reforms

already available, ensuring that sufficient

agency support and additional adult

is great in the context of funding cuts

funding is provided for meaningful

support as even more important than

and complex local relationships.

professional learning activities. Reform

additional training.

Schools will continue to fulfil their role

proposals include development of

Indeed, general awareness of SEN

of providing an excellent education

online training materials in relation to

will continue to rise with increased

to all their pupils to the best of their

CPD for practitioners, despite a wealth

levels of specific training, and this, in

ability and capacity. Where possible,

of online materials already available.

turn, will result in a corresponding rise

they will build on their achievements;

The proposed scholarship fund for “the

in demand for specialist services. For

pre-schools settings will continue to

most able” teaching assistants and other

example, teachers’ awareness of pupils’

engage with early years/intervention

support staff to enable them to build

speech, language and communication

services to develop the skills of their

on their SEN support roles is welcome,

needs has improved over the last few

workforce and participate in team-

but it is hardly a substitute for a proper

years, leading to increased requests for

around-the-child (TAC) approaches, and

system of funding and support for high-

assessments by speech and language

schools will continue to cluster together

quality CPD, particularly in relation to

therapists, specialist teachers’ services

to commission their own services to

SEN, across the workforce.

and educational psychologists. This

support children with SEN.

Development of SEN professional

professional training is likely to stimulate

Schools will play a key role in

development options must also allow

further demand, and it must not take

delivering these SEN reforms and in

for the impact of other government

the place of expert support provided

ensuring that pupils with SEN can

initiatives. The growth in classroom-

by SENCOs and other SEN specialists.

receive and participate in an education

based learning at initial teacher

offer that meets their needs. However,

education stages will challenge schools

Supporting school staff

they cannot be responsible alone for

to make meaningful partnerships with

The support that school staff will need to

that provision; it is to be hoped that the

local special schools or higher education

face these challenges is significant and

lessons of the initial pathfinder trials,

institutions to ensure that the quality of

complex. It must involve a high-quality

previous reviews and the voice of the

training opportunities and understanding

and comprehensive SEN focus in initial

profession will play a big role in how

around SEN is high for all staff. If the

teacher education and in continuing

these proposals are taken forward and

number of those working as teachers

professional development. It also has

how their rightly ambitious aims are

without qualified teacher status increases

to include access to specialist expertise


significantly, then that SEN training will

(both internally and externally), timely

need to build on different foundations,

access to resources, access to local

as assumptions regarding a particular

networks and strong school leadership

level of professional knowledge around

to support inclusive approaches despite

pedagogy, differentiation and child

the narrowing pressures of league tables.

development may not apply.

The education unions will continue

The development of a more highly

to play a key role in providing this

SEN-educated workforce cannot be a

support through the professional

cheap alternative to specialist expertise.

development, publications and guidance

Research has found that teachers see

they offer, the support they provide for

increased access to specialist teachers,

local partnerships (including the local

educational psychologists, external

authority model) and the research they


Further information

Alison Ryan is Education Policy Adviser at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), a UK union for education professionals:


dual or multiple exceptional children

Young, gifted and special Being gifted and talented can be hard enough, but what if you also have SEN? Denise Yates charts the complex world of the dual or multiple exceptional child


ome children seem to be struggling with an area of their learning, yet you have no doubt that they

understand exactly what is covered

in lessons. Others, you feel, may have a special need but just do not quite fit the classic profile and you are left wondering just how to support them in the classroom and beyond. Still others may have a learning need which is clear to see, but are just too bright for the support programmes you can offer. Have you ever considered that these children might be dual or multiple exceptional (DME)?

What is dual or multiple exceptionality? Dual exceptionality (sometimes referred to as twice exceptionality or 2e) is the term used to describe a child who is not only exceptionally able but also has an additional learning difficulty or a disability. Multiple exceptionality is the term used to describe a child with high intellectual ability and more than one special need or difficulty. Put them together and the term used is dual or multiple exceptional or DME.


The signs of DME are often misunderstood or missed altogether.

This article explains what DME is, how it can affect a child and their learning within the classroom, and what can be done to support a child who is DME.

Something is not quite right, but it is hard to describe what is wrong

High learning potential and SEN

that these descriptions are not wholly

Teaching children who are both bright

impossible not to fall back on them when

and have a learning difficulty can be

something is not quite right but it is hard

confusing. They can seem so able

to describe what is wrong.

accurate, sometimes it is almost

and yet struggle to carry out basic

Yet this is just what can happen with

tasks. Often they are misperceived,

DME children. These children have a

by both teachers and parents alike, as

disability or learning difficulty but at the

lazy, inattentive, stubborn, careless or

same time they have high ability in one

unmotivated. Whilst everyone suspects

or more aspects of their learning.

dual or multiple exceptional children


A child who is DME can face several

If you are gifted and autistic you are

barriers to their learning, both in the

invisible at school. Everyone says “oh,

to assessment involves the SENCO

classroom and at home. The most

she's doing really well in lessons” but no

consulting across the curriculum and

common include:

one cares that you are always bored. The

looking at discrepancies between

other kids don't like it when you can do

subject areas and what is required for

learning difficulty, making their

things well and they bullied me for four

different skills. An example of this would

SEN extremely difficult to identify

years. School is a foul place for children

be a child who might write one or two

• his/her needs and abilities can be

like me and I am really angry and upset

lines for a written essay but who flies

misdiagnosed or misinterpreted

that I can't go to any secondary school

in terms of both content and creativity

even if I wanted to because I don't have

when they type or dictate a piece of

the right sort of brain for them.

homework or produce a presentation

• his/her strengths conceal a

• where a need is identified, emphasis can be placed on supporting this to the exclusion

DME child with autism

recognised and supported • typical measures to support a learning difficulty or disability are not successful for a child who

about what they know. A person outside the school system,

of the child’s high learning potential, which also needs to be

A multi-dimensional approach

“If you are gifted and autistic you are invisible at school”

such as an educational psychologist, may also be involved to observe the child and carry out an assessment. The results of a standardised reading test and a listening test might show huge varied ability – a score on the 90th percentile for

also has high learning potential

listening and 60th percentile for reading

• where the child’s strengths are identified, traditional gifted and

Identifying a DME child

would suggest difficulties in interpreting

talented support is not suitable

Sometimes I get frustrated as I know the

written things. Assessments in art,

as it is reliant upon basic skills

answer to the question but something

music, drama and physical education

being in place

goes wrong between what I think and

might rate considerably higher in some

• the child may have a diagnosed

what I write on the page. I feel so stupid

cases than reading, writing and spelling

learning difficulty but because

and I wish I knew what to do about it.

ages and vice versa.

his/her high ability allows them to

DME child with dyspraxia

When assessing a child informally, the school would look at a range of

achieve slightly above average, s/he does not qualify for

Dual or multiple exceptionality is

additional support.

probably one of the most difficult

• schoolwork

areas of special needs to identify. To

• work from home

Because of my son’s high IQ, he is

do this it is important to have evidence

• drawings and paintings

managing to keep up with the average

of both the specific learning difficulty

• parents’ comments and

in reading even though he has dyslexia.

and the potential for giftedness in order

The school is not interested in what his

to assess any discrepancies between

• classroom observations

reading level should be in relation to

intellectual ability and performance.

• advanced reading and/or number

his potential and is not providing any

Parent of DME child For the child him/herself, the results of being held back in these ways can be catastrophic, with many children reporting low self-esteem and feelings of failure both at home and at school. Without appropriate support this can result in underachievement far below what might have been expected if their potential had been realised.



additional support as in his teachers words “he is managing to keep up”.

different evidence, including:

• verbal ability

Common difficulties seen alongside giftedness include: • Asperger’s syndrome • ADD/ADHD • dyslexia, dysgraphia, and dyscalculia • auditory and visual processing disorders • sensory processing disorders, including dyspraxia • non-verbal learning disorder.

• advanced use of equipment • use of language and communications skills • reports from both the gifted and talented coordinator and the SENCO • reports from the class teacher and/or subject teacher • reports from other professionals. In addition, the professional would look for a range of characteristics associated >> SENISSUE61


dual or multiple exceptional children

Focusing on the gifts, talents and interests of DME children results in improved resilience

with a particular learning difficulty and also those associated with high ability. However, this cannot be done in isolation because of the complex interaction between the two. For example, many of the characteristics of high ability are similar to children on the autistic spectrum; indeed, the two are often confused and there is a high level of

A potential strategy to support the DME child in school

misdiagnosis of one (usually autism) for the other.

Supporting a DME child’s strengths and special needs

Working in the area of their strengths is motivational for DME children.

The sensitivity and awareness that DME children often have means that,

abilities begin to creep in, resulting in

from an early age, they are able to

deteriorating perceptions of their own

see that their peers out-perform them

strengths. Parents and teachers who

on simple tasks. Doubts about their

focus on their difficulties reinforce these negative feelings. The resulting selfimage damages the child’s academic, social, and emotional progress.

How to spot a DME child in the classroom • written work and verbal work out of synchronisation • tries to cover up difficulties; For example, may be the joker in the class or use wits rather than results • issues with homework. Common problems include poor standards of work compared to answers in class, forgetting to hand it in or misinterpreting what is being sought by the teacher • test results at odds with knowledge of a subject • vast knowledge about a subject or an area of interest outside school where there is no pressure to perform • extreme frustration or anger with self (and possibly teacher or parent) when cannot get something right • very low self-esteem • shows flashes of brilliance • good problem-solver • thinks conceptually • poor self-control • disorganised.

Focusing on the gifts, talents and interests of DME children whilst accommodating their difficulties, on the other hand, results in improved resilience and the experience of success. If they are given opportunities to develop their strengths, these children can develop a positive image of who they are and a vision of what they might become.   Working in the area of their strengths is motivational for DME children. Some of the skills they lack show dramatic development when practiced in the

• SENCO and gifted and talented lead teacher develop a joint programme to support all the needs of the child • individual education plan supports the child’s SEN and stretches his/her abilities • challenge in areas of strength • involve parents to develop a plan to support learning at home. Agree how issues in school will be handled where the DME child may have particular difficulties, for example, exams, project work or writing • provide information and/or training to all relevant class and subject teachers and encourage a flexible approach to learning. For example, if handwriting is an issue for the child, look at other ways for him/her to record what they have learnt • celebrate success by focusing on what the child can do • support to develop resiliency and self-control.

context of projects in their gift or interest area. They may also be more willing to push themselves through the practice of a difficult skill when the effort is related to a project they want to complete. For those who lack social skills and understanding, working with others in the same interest area greatly expands opportunities for positive and productive interaction. Their weaknesses can and must be addressed, but they need to be addressed creatively and preferably in their interest area, not at the expense of

Further information

Denise Yates is Chief Executive of the NAGC, a charity providing social, emotional and learning support for children with high learning potential, including dual and multiple exceptional children. The quotes in the text are taken from the NAGC’s publication, Hidden Gifts: Dual or Multiple Exceptional Children (2012).

the development of their strengths. SENISSUE61


25 Promotional feature

Could you offer a home to Jonas? One-year-old Jonas is a happy and delightful boy who is looking for a parent/s to adopt him. Jonas was placed with foster carers at six days old. His birth mother has a learning difficulty which prevents her from being able to care for him. Jonas is meeting his milestones and is in a good routine. He loves to explore and is a joy to care for. Jonas has inherited tuberous sclerosis – a condition which can result in growths forming on different parts of the body, although

symptoms vary from one person to another with some people showing very few symptoms. In some cases, tuberous sclerosis can affect a person’s behaviour and their ability to learn. Jonas currently has growths on his heart and kidneys. They are not causing him any difficulties, but he is being monitored by a variety of specialists. Ethnic and cultural descent: white/British. Family needed: one or two parent adoptive family. Allowance: an allowance may be payable. Please note that potential adopters would need to undergo a full assessment and approval by Gloucestershire’s Adoption Panel.

If you could offer Jonas a home, please contact the Family Finding Team at Gloucestershire County Council on: 01452 427753 or email: Gloucestershire Adoption Service, Anne Peniket House, 380 Bristol Road, Gloucester, GL2 5DH

Could you offer a home to Michael? Five-year-old Michael is looking for an adoptive parent/s. He became looked after two years ago, having experienced a childhood of chronic neglect and inconsistent and inadequate parenting.

Mikey has benefited from the clear and consistent boundaries that are in place in his foster home. His behaviour was difficult to manage at first and was seen to deteriorate around contact with his mother. With stability, Mikey can now take direction and plays independently; he will do as he is told and responds well to consistent boundaries and routines.

Michael, or “Mikey”, as he prefers to be known, is a “cheeky chap” who can be mischievous and full of fun and laughter. He is content to play by himself with his toy cars and also with others safely and nicely. Mikey has a good and childlike imagination and will happily draw you in to his lovely imaginary journeys when you are playing with him.

Mikey has been able to make a good attachment to his carer, which will help him attach to future adoptive parents. Mikey likes to play outside as much as possible and loves going on long walks and running around. However, his favourite activities are helping his foster carer in the garden and being involved with DIY tasks.

Mikey likes cuddles and affection and is very giving emotionally. He can now communicate what he needs and wants easily and his speech is improving gradually.

Ethnic and cultural descent: white/British. Family needed: a one or two parent adoptive family. Allowance: an allowance may be payable. Please note that potential adopters would need to undergo a full assessment and approval by Gloucestershire’s Adoption Panel.

If you could offer Michael a home, please contact the Family Finding Team at Gloucestershire County Council on: 01452 427753 or email: Gloucestershire Adoption Service, Quayside House, Shire Hall, Gloucester




Know your brain Dyslexics need to understand how their brain works differently, if they are to fulfil their potential, says Patrick Wilson


t is an undeniable fact that in

are subconscious processes. Picking

modern day society we are

up a pen and writing a shopping list,



glancing at a road sign or skimming


Dyslexia can lead to a spaghetti soup of ideas that pours out in a stream of consciousness

words. The ever growing role of

a recipe book are actions that mix

the internet in our lives is an important

seamlessly into our day. It is easy

factor contributing to the onslaught.

to forget what a miracle it is that the

On a typical news website ten years

human brain is capable of processing

ago, you would see about 12 headlines

language at all, and that we are the only

on a home page, whereas nowadays

species on the planet that has managed

skills. This is demonstrated by the

there are, on average, over 400 story

to achieve communication on such a

fact that a disproportionate number of

or section links. Someone who spends

complex level.

entrepreneurs are dyslexic. However

their working day in front of a computer

For those with dyslexia, the

in the early stages of development at

will see around 490,000 words every

complexity of reading, writing and

school, it is paramount that a dyslexic

day. War and Peace is only 460,000

spelling is much more apparent. In a

student grows to understand the way

words (source:

dyslexic brain, the areas that interact

that his/her brain works differently


to coordinate the manipulation of words

and learns to work with it in order

This shift in our lifestyles means that

are affected and work differently. The

to achieve success. Here are four

reading and writing are becoming a more

presence of dyslexia in no way affects

key characteristics of the dyslexic

central and important part of our lives.

intelligence; indeed, it can enhance

brain that students and educators

For the majority of the population, they

lateral thinking and problem solving

should understand:



Writing is a three-step process

automatic level. For example, we may

Dyslexics are creative

pick up a sock and know instantly that

Because dyslexics can’t rely on

Putting pen to paper makes huge

it should be put in our sock drawer, or

memory, they become very good at

demands on the short-term memory

drive to work without thinking about

creating abstract constructs rather than

to move from one step to the next, which

how to turn the steering wheel. For

thinking in relation to past experience.

can be a real weakness for dyslexics. In

dyslexics, however, these automatic

Imagine explaining to a British rugby

the brain, the process involves:

processes can be more difficult due

player how to play American football.

• synthesizing a thought. For

to poor memory recall. This may even

The non dyslexic will relate this to his

example, writing a story about

explain why dyslexics’ bedrooms are

experience (for example, “It’s like rugby

what you did last weekend, such

often particularly messy.

but you need to throw the ball forward”).

A good way to help a dyslexic

The dyslexic has more work to do and

• working out how you are going

improve their ability to complete simple

as a result has to create the construct

to write it: “

processes more quickly is to encourage

of American football more from his


them to create models, such as SLUR

imagination. This creativity also leads

• the physical act of writing –

(Socks Left drawer Underwear Right

to the ability to solve complex problems.

finding the right words and

drawer), and “I before E except after

The artist Michelangelo, the physicist

actually writing them.

as going to the park

C”. Models can be created for anything

Einstein and James Dyson, inventor of

A dyslexic can typically do one of

from writing a paragraph (AXE –

the modern vacuum cleaner, were all

these things, but will struggle to do all

Argument, eXplain, Evaluate) to

dyslexic, and it is likely that their inability

of them in sequence. The process of

remembering to pack essentials into an

to rely on recall helped develop their

holding that thought and then selecting

overnight bag (DTGMAP – Deodorant,

imagination and ability to create brilliant

words and subsequently writing them


art, inventions and concepts that have

down on paper can end in chaos. Poor

and Pyjamas).



changed the world.

sequencing in the brain also makes it

With the right understanding of

very difficult for dyslexics to organise

dyslexia, a student can become a truly

their thoughts and sentences into a structured piece of writing. Creating a structured argument is a bit like cooking whilst trying to hold all the ingredients at the same time. Sometimes ingredients can fall into the pot at the wrong time. This can lead to a spaghetti soup of ideas that pours out in a stream

Think of memory as a warehouse full of ideas. A dyslexic searches for the words with the light off

of consciousness.

successful and adaptable person. While a non-dyslexic sees failure as an indication that they can’t do something, a dyslexic will see it as a part of the path to progress. Olympian Steven Redgrave attributed his tenacity to his dyslexia. He tried and failed, but he knew that this was part of his learning process, and he did not give up until he won five Olympic gold medals. Understanding dyslexia

To overcome this and train the brain to become more comfortable with

Memory, what memory?

and turning it as far as possible into a

synthesizing thoughts to write and

Poor memory recall is a key

positive is the key to unlocking success,

structure, teachers or parents can use

characteristic of the dyslexic brain.

academic or otherwise.

the talk to write method. This involves

This means that while students may

talking through a student’s thoughts,

appear to understand things well, they

repeating until the structure of the

often struggle to recall concepts later.

thoughts are clear and only then thinking

Think of memory as a warehouse full

about writing.

of ideas. A dyslexic searches for the words with the light off. Because they

Dyslexics struggle with automated processes

have more difficulty recalling things,

To cope with the multitudinous series

warehouse thinking that they have the

of thoughts and actions that the brain

right thing and be wrong. This is why,

coordinates every day, humans complete

for example, dyslexics often confuse the

simple tasks on a subconscious,

word “specific” with “pacific”.

they can sometimes come out of the

Further information

Patrick Wilson, who is dyslexic, is the founder of the Tutor Crowd, which helps students with SEN do better in exams. Patrick’s particular teaching focus is dyslexia:





Promotional feature

Personalised exercise programme for SEN pupils DORE is a unique personalised exercise programme for adults and children over seven years old with learning difficulties, such as dyslexia, dyspraxia and ADHD. The DORE programme is already an intervention of choice in several UK schools. Some schools run the entire programme themselves, whereas others work in partnership with parents to facilitate the programme each day. Springfields Academy, winner of the TES Award for Overall Outstanding School of the Year 2012, started using the DORE programme in 2009. Principal Trystan Williams says that “There is always ten per cent of pupils who don’t make as much progress as hoped. It’s my job to find the right intervention strategies, such as the DORE programme, to help the students achieve this progress.” The DORE programme has also been successfully completed by more than 30,000 individuals, most of them children. One enthusiastic mum recently contacted DORE to report: “Before Katie started the DORE programme, completing homework was a nightmare for all of us. Within nine months of starting DORE, Katie’s reading age had gone up 18 months”. SENISSUE61

Reasons why schools should consider the DORE programme as an intervention include: • over 92 per cent of DORE clients have said that they would recommend the programme to a friend • it is based on regular physical exercises, which can be performed at home or at school • it is completely personalised, allowing each pupil’s progress to be monitored individually • it encourages a constructive partnership between the pupil, the school and the family • it includes full support from the DORE team in the set-up, as well as in the day-to-day running, of the Programme, regular assessments and reporting procedures

To learn more about the DORE programme, or find out about our work with schools visit: or call: 0333 123 0100. DORE is the trading name of Dynevor CIC, a social enterprise, based in Stratford upon Avon, which works to support people with learning difficulties and which has owned the rights to the DORE programme since 2009.



Alternative approaches to dyslexia Can ideas from complementary and alternative medicine help those struggling with dyslexia? Maria Chivers investigates


omplementary or alternative

considered to be a health profession and

medicine (CAM) is one

is routinely recommended by doctors.

Many doctors are calling for greater control and registration of CAM

of the fastest growing

Many therapists believe that doctors

markets in the developed

will only treat your symptoms, while

world and its influence is felt across

CAM therapists focus on respect for the

all areas of health, wellbeing and SEN.

whole person and his/her innate healing

There are hundreds of therapies that

abilities. CAM assists the natural healing

difficulties often result in great frustration,

claim to help, alleviate or even “cure�

wisdom of the body through natural

particularly given that most dyslexics are

dyslexia. They range from those based

approaches, thereby healing the whole

of at least average intelligence.

on solid scientific research to the plainly

person rather than just the problems

outlandish. While I always advise that

presented at the time.

I believe that dyslexics can and do benefit from some forms of CAM.

people should show caution when

On the whole, CAM therapists are

As each dyslexic learner is different,

dealing with these therapies, they

not state registered, so anyone can set

though, no specific method or therapy

should also open themselves up to new

up in business. There are no scientific

will suit them all. It is important to start

ideas. After all, chiropractic was once

studies, or very little evidence of the

from an understanding of what dyslexia

viewed as alternative therapy, but is now

safety and effectiveness of therapies,

is and how it affects individuals, and

whilst conventional medical approaches

to identify the problems the particular

generally go through years of testing

student is having with learning before

before implementation. Many doctors

looking at what kind of therapy may

are, in fact, calling for greater control and registration of CAM.

help him/her. I will focus here on four key areas of CAM, those relating to hearing,

What is dyslexia?

developmental therapies, nutrition

Dyslexia is a specific

and massage.

learning difficulty (SpLD) and problems can reveal


themselves in reading,

It is now widely accepted that some

writing, number work,

dyslexics have difficulties with auditory


skills and appear to be hypersensitive

hand control and visual

to certain sound frequencies (Schulte-

processing. Timekeeping,

Korne, Deimel, Bartling et al., 1998).

sense of direction and

This can lead to problems with sound

interpersonal skills can

discrimination, auditory processing,

also be affected. These

auditory discrimination, concentration,






self-esteem. SENISSUE61


Many alternative therapies are designed to normalise the auditory system, changing how the brain processes and organises the information it receives from the ears. For instance, some use special headphones to deliver

Fatty acid deficiency may be to blame for reported increases in dyslexia over the last 20 years


the neurological causes of dyslexia. The majority of these therapies claim that they are helpful for a wide range of learning issues, including reading difficulties, dyslexia, clumsiness, ADHD, handwriting problems and low self-

a broad range of frequencies to retrain

esteem. A word of caution: as with other

the auditory system. This can also be

CAM therapies, while some have been

achieved by listening to music each day.

or inhibited as a result. There has been

carried out over many years, others are

Another therapy involves the use of

a lot of research in recent years to show

quite new and have very little scientific

a metronome. For centuries, musicians

that some children with these problems

research to back up their claims.

have used metronomes to help them

can be helped with a movement-based

keep time, and in recent years these

programme (see, for example, Koester

devices have been used to help those

and Sherwood, 2001; Blythe, 2005).

with Parkinson’s and stroke patients.

There is now a significant number

Work has also been carried out to use

of therapists offering different types of

metronomes with those with dyslexia

exercise programmes covering areas

and ADHD (Schaffer et al., 2001).

such as simple movements, throwing

Quite simply, a metronome works by

beanbags, catching and throwing

keeping time; many people with dyslexia

balls at targets, balancing on different

and ADHD have difficulty processing

objects or looking at flashing lights on

different sounds and staying on task.

computers. It is these special routines,

Metronomes help students focus, pay

which are repeated over and over again,

Diet and nutrition

attention to certain sounds and block

that are designed to improve reflexes.

It is generally accepted that eating a

out all other noises. Physiotherapists

These kinds of exercises are said

balanced diet is essential to children’s

and occupational therapists use the

to stimulate and develop sensory

mental and physical development.

metronome to help train the brain to

integration, spatial awareness, dexterity,

However, could deficiencies in vital

plan, sequence and process information

motor skills and the sense of balance.

vitamins and minerals even be a cause

more effectively through repetition of

The idea is that they should help

of dyslexia?

interactive exercises. These drills use

organise processing in the brain in order

Over the last two decades, much

repeated hand, toe, and heel exercises,

to improve a child’s overall functioning

research has been carried out into the

which are carried out thousands of

in areas of learning such as reading

relationships between food and dyslexia,

times, while keeping in time with the

and writing. This is understood to work

ADHD and other issues affecting

metronomic beat.

because of the relationship of movement

learning (Dewhurst et al., 2003; Konofal

A well-balanced diet may have a positive impact on dyslexia.

This method has undergone scientific

to perception and the impact on fine

et al., 2004; Bruner et al., 1996). Many

trials and has shown improvement in

motor and academic skills; it works

of these research papers have looked

attention, concentration, motor control

on the physical rather than the mental

at fatty acid deficiencies, salicylates,

and coordination. Such therapy can be

components of learning. It is suggested

food additives, colourings, flavourings,

carried out over a relatively short period

that once an exercise program has been

refined sugar, zinc and iron deficiencies,

of time, and may show results within a

set up for the individual person, it could

herbal medicine, food allergies, and

five week period.

easily be carried out in schools during

multiple chemical sensitivities.

a PE lesson or at home.

Developmental therapies

Essential fatty acids (EFAs) play a

When technology is used with

major role in brain function. They are


computer games, it is said to help

required for visual functioning in the

movement-based techniques believe

stimulate eye tracking, visual neural

retina of the eye, in the synapses of

that learning problems can be caused by

pathways and the cerebellum. The

the brain, in nerve tissues and in the

immature (primitive) reflexes remaining

object of some of the games is to keep

adrenals for regulating stress. EFAs must

in the body. Attainment of balance,

a lighted dot in the correct place, while

be provided through diet. The richest

hand-eye coordination, motor control

the background continually changes. It

source of EFAs is said to be oily fish.

and perceptual skills, may be delayed

is claimed that this can help to address








It may be that one of the problems with modern diets is that they lack EFAs, perhaps because we are eating less fish than before. Many believe that fatty acid deficiency may be to blame for reported

Inhaling certain aromas can have an almost immediate effect on the limbic area of the brain

approaches and interventions, and the help of appropriate complementary therapies, I believe that some of the difficulties associated with dyslexia can be alleviated, which in turn can have a huge effect in terms of

increases in dyslexia over the last 20

boosting confidence.

years (Richardson, 2002; Richardson and Puri, 2002; Portwood, 2002).

When considering any of the movements can help. Massage is said to

approaches mentioned, it is important

Zinc is one of the body’s most

help dyslexia by improving coordination

to maintain an open mind, but also to

important trace minerals and there

and providing a calmer environment

use common sense. No matter how

have been suggestions that people with

for learning.

good these techniques are supposed

dyslexia and other learning difficulties

With the expanding use of CAM,

to be, it is important not to ignore good

may be deficient in this mineral (Grant,

the International Association of Infant

old-fashioned teaching methods that

Howard and Davies, 1988).

Massage has been set up to help the

have stood the test of time. There are

Iron is also extremely important for

growing number of parents seeking to

also many established approaches

building our bodies. Research indicates

look at infant massage and how it can

to managing dyslexia which should

that even a minor deficiency in iron may

assist their children. Most parents touch

always be considered. Opticians and

weaken the immune system and impair

and massage babies as soon as they are

behavioural optometrists have become

general physical performance. A French

born, thereby building up a wonderful

more and more involved in working with

study (Konofal et al., 2004) has identified

rapport. Massage can help to strengthen

those with dyslexia in recent years,

a link between iron deficiency and ADHD.

and develop the immune system and

and the use of coloured overlays and

An earlier study published in the Lancet

provide vital sensory stimulation.

lenses, for example, is well known to

(Bruner et al., 1996) found that teenage






be of benefit to many dyslexic children

girls showed cognitive improvement

complementary healthcare that can

when they we given iron supplements. It

work alongside more conventional

There are many alternative therapies

may be that this deficiency is enough to

treatments. Studies have shown that

that may be able to help you or your child

change the iron levels in the brain, which

inhaling certain aromas can have an

with dyslexia, but only you can make

in turn alter the way neurotransmitters

almost immediate effect on the limbic

the decision about which approaches

behave in the brain.

area of the brain – the centre of our

might be best in your particular case.

emotions and memory (Buck and Axel,

My own experience, after working

1991; Wilkinson et al., 1999).

for so long in this field, has led me to

There is so much research to suggest that a well-balanced diet can help

and young people.

with dyslexia. EFAs, zinc and iron are

The therapeutic power of essential

believe wholeheartedly in some of these

all available as supplements, but you

oils helps the body to heal itself.

complimentary approaches to dyslexia,

should always check with your doctor

Aromatherapy is a holistic treatment

though others I simply cannot vouch

before taking them.

of the whole person, not just of his/

for. I hope, though, that I have, at the

her symptoms. The essential oil ylang-

very least, provided some food for

The power of touch

ylang is said to be one of the best for

thought in this article, and perhaps the

Massage therapy is often seen as a

nervous tension and to counter the

inspiration to consider and try some

holistic approach and many therapists

build up of frustration. Rosemary is

of these approaches for yourself.

work alongside medical professionals

believed to help with stress disorders

to promote good health, strengthen the

and to aid concentration. A massage

immune system, flush out toxins and

that covers the head, upper back, upper

provide stimulation and relaxation. It

arms, shoulders, neck, scalp and face is

is clear to most people that if a child is

particularly effective at relieving stress.

stressed, s/he will not be able to work effectively or learn in that environment.

Helping those with dyslexia

If you have a headache, one of

Many children with problems with

the first things you do is to rub your

learning suffer from low self-esteem.

head. With remedial massage, specific

However, with the right teaching


Further information

Maria Chivers is the author of Dyslexia and Alternative Therapies and the founder of DyslexiaA2Z (formerly Swindon Dyslexia Centre). She has two sons, both of whom have dyslexia:









equine therapy

Riding high Equine therapy can provide life changing experiences for children on the autistic spectrum. Lilias Ahmeira saddles up and explains all

It is about a horse and a child bonding and developing a partnership

The health professionals made us feel

successful with children on the autistic

that because Toby is autistic, there was

spectrum. Horses have been an essential

nothing more they could do. They had

part of human life for thousands of

written him off, whereas I felt that he

years, yet only recently have people

had more to give – we just had to find

started to recognise that equines have

a way to channel it.

a unique ability to heal. A horse is non-


judgemental, giving love and respect

him to get off a trampoline...he started

hese are the words of Cathy

unconditionally, and such qualities are

banging his head on a post," says Sam.

Foxwell, mother of six-year-

proving increasingly important in turning

"In a motorway restaurant, he decided

old Toby who has autism.

around the lives of children who may

to take all his clothes off and ran around

It is this "you're on your

otherwise be written off by society.  

screaming. People came up to me and complained. It was awful."

own now" attitude, taken by some providers of healthcare services, which

Improving behaviour

is compelling not only parents of autistic

For people living with an autistic child,

August 2011, when Noah began

children, such as Cathy, but also carers

life can be challenging. Sam Pulleston,

equine therapy. "In just three months,

and educators involved with autism to

the mother of three-year-old Noah,

Noah, for whom conventional speech

seek alternative, holistic solutions, such

describes life with her non-verbal,

therapy had proved inappropriate,

as equine therapy.

For Sam, life didn't get better until

frustrated autistic child as like walking

made improvements that I had dared

Although still in its infancy, equine

on a tightrope. "Noah has no concept of

not hope for. For the first time ever, he

therapy is already proving highly

sharing or taking turns. When we asked

began to speak and consequently was


equine therapy

To sit on a horse is to be a king, to be taller and braver than everyone else

In July 2012, the results of a clinical review commissioned by equine therapy centre Special Horses for Special Children revealed why the rhythmic motion produced by a horse in canter can help promote speech in non-verbal autistic children.

Using simple commands with horses can encourage a child's communication skills.

understand) produce instant results: say

The author of the paper, Dr Fiona

"Whoa" or "Halt" and the horse stops,

Dann, said that "Autistic children have

say "Walk on" and the horse moves,

a lot of tension in the base of the skull

or say "Up" and the horse climbs on

and in the membranes of the brain

a pedestal. The child quickly learns to

and this stops the essential flow of

less angry, he became more sociable,

reward the horse with a verbal "Good

hormones such as oxytocin, which is

was able to concentrate and even toilet

boy/girl" and to give physical praise with

essential for sociability. By putting an

trained himself."

a pat or stroke. It is simple, but extremely

autistic child on a horse and double

effective therapy.

riding in canter, the increased sacral

Equine therapy involves a variety of techniques, but the key lies in a

The biggest thrill of all, though, has

movement and release of tension in

flexible, individual approach based

to be actually riding a horse. To sit on

the cranium can lead to improved CSF

on a child's needs. It is important to

a horse is to be a king, to be taller and

(cerebrospinal fluid) circulation as well

monitor the child’s reaction to every

braver than everyone else and to do

as increased oxytocin release, which

new experience and never to push

something that other children cannot

in turn creates the benefits seen from

boundaries too far. There are various

do. For a child with autism, this is about

increased levels of this hormone, such

ways to involve children, starting with

taking control and gaining confidence

as greater improvements in speech,

gentle, introductory sensory techniques,

in leaps and bounds.

mood and focus, better fine motor

such as grooming or petting a horse, or

Even at standstill, there is much that

skills of coordination and dexterity, and

even decorating it with paint. The use of

can be achieved. Sitting on a bareback

changes in a child's concentration span

paint is particularly effective for children

horse, a child can enjoy the feeling of

and calmness."

who can't bear to touch fur or skin (a

its silky fur, stroke the coarse hair of its

Although the benefits from equine

common autistic trait), as the paint acts

mane, smell its unique scent, hug its

therapy can often be seen in a child

a barrier. The benefits of sensory work

neck facing forward and then lie down

very quickly, it should not be regarded

are profound, as it involves the use of

on its hindquarters – a position of pure

as a quick fix. It takes around three

fine motor skills, verbal communication

trust. Some children have even been

or four sessions of sensory work and

and social interaction.

known to fall asleep in this position.

double riding at canter in a single month

Then, when the child is ready, it

to help establish the neural pathways

Developing communication skills

is time to start walking, with helpers

necessary for speech. If a speech habit

on either side to provide support, as

is not formed immediately, then a child

Once the child is comfortable being

required. Just being so high on a horse

can regress, so repetition is vital.

around a horse, they can progress to in-

and feeling its movement is an immense

hand work. Walking a horse around on a

thrill for a child. However, many autistic

rope is a tremendous confidence builder,

children are speed merchants for whom

which is particularly good for a child who

pottering is not enough. This is where

may have serious self-esteem issues.

double riding – with an expert adult rider

It is about a horse and a child bonding

holding a small child on a specially made

and developing a partnership. The horse

saddle in front of them – comes into its

follows the child, with helpers on hand

own. To take a child with no previous

at all times, and is alert to both verbal

interaction with horses and allow them

command cues and body language.

to experience the motions of canter can

This is ideal for non-verbal children as

be of great benefit to autistic children,

it encourages them to speak, because

often helping them to speak for the first

even single words (ideal for horses to

time in their lives.

Further information

Lilias Ahmeira has more than ten years’ clinical experience working with autistic children and is the founder of Special Horses for Special Children, an equine therapy centre in Somerset. She is also the mother of Tom, aged 13, who is diagnosed with autism: www.specialhorsesforspecial



creative arts


From the art Ali Mawle looks at how multi-sensory arts-based workshops can reach out to children with PMLD


t can be very moving to witness a

learnt from our experiences, as well as

child with severe learning difficulties

looking at the practicalities of using the

stretching out and grasping

arts to engage those with PMLD.

something spontaneously for the

The experience can help children to better understand the world around them

very first time, or being so excited and

Why the arts?

determined to communicate that they

Access to the arts for those with PMLD

press the correct animal image on a

is often far from straightforward, but

talker after seeing a cow in a painting.

the opportunities for these children to

responses. New experiences, such as

Yet these are kind of rewards that are

benefit from visual, sound and touch

looking at a striking painting, listening

part and parcel of conducting arts-

stimuli are many. Art has the ability

to a soundscape or making paint, invite

based education sessions for children

to provoke both an emotional and an

these children to respond directly to

with profound and multiple learning

intellectual response in us. Artworks can

what they are seeing, hearing, smelling

difficulties (PMLD). Such sessions

trigger a range of feelings and inspire

or doing. The experience facilitates new

deliver countless unexpected outcomes

us to investigate what we are seeing

ways to communicate and can help the

that benefit not only the child, but also

or hearing.

children to better understand the world

their carers, teachers and family too.

For children with PMLD taking part in

around them.

At the National Gallery, we have

an off-site arts-based activity, a visit to

Arts-based activities are able to

worked with PMLD practitioners to

the Gallery goes beyond the paintings

satisfy a number of the children’s

develop a programme called Sense It!,

and encompasses the impact of new

physical and communications needs,

which takes a painting in the collection

physical surroundings. Things that we

according to the abilities of those taking

and uses it as the focus for multi-sensory

might not notice, such as echoes in

part. In our programme, each activity is

sessions in the Gallery. This article will

different rooms, are very exciting for

chosen on the basis that the art-process

share some of the key things we have

some and can prompt exceptional

is as inclusive as possible and that it


creative arts

encompasses as many of the children’s needs as is feasible. Activities can switch to touching and listening experiences to include those who are blind or partially, sighted while providing strong visual images for those whose hearing may

Visual stimuli, temperature, touch and smell are all powerful ways to reach children

be impaired. Such activities can also

In our case, a painting provides obvious inspiration for a set of experiences related to the picture. It also provides a static object with which we can all become familiar and connect through a set of relevant multi-sensory experiences.

provide new material and inspiration for

Feedback, flexibility and adjustments

imaginative sessions for both teachers

could contribute and work in partnership

and their pupils.

with the Gallery’s educator. The twilight visits were also an

When a session comes to a close, it may

Getting to know you

opportunity for all involved to understand

be the unexpected aspects of the day

In any class, every child is different.

and prepare for the significant and

that we take away and remember. This

However, delivering a session to a group

specialist practical needs that must be

is often the case for teachers and carers

of children with PMLD presents an

met as part of a visit by such a group to a

and for the children who participate. For

additional challenge, as each child may

public space, including facilities for food

some, the visit and the activity will be

have very different physical and mental

preparation and personal care needs.

an almost overwhelming achievement.

abilities which in turn require specific

Parents tell us that they gain more

methods of support and communication.

Multi-sensory fun

confidence to take their children out

The more time that those providing the

Fundamental to using creative arts

and about as a result of a successful

session and those attending can spend

to communicate with children with

visit. Teachers tell us that they come

together before a specific session the

PMLD is the opportunity to develop

away inspired to recreate multi-sensory

better the outcome of the session will

a set of arts-related experiences that

learning activities when they return to

be. It is vital that the session provider

incorporate a range of senses. Visual

their school. The sessions have sparked

has met the children, learnt their names,

stimuli, temperature, touch and smell are

ideas on how a new soundscape might

and knows what they can do and what

all powerful ways to reach children who

bring to life a book a group is reading

they enjoy. Communication with carers

face a complex set of communication

at school, and have provided the

and teachers enables facilitators to

challenges. The integration of colour and

inspiration for a messy painting session.

understand the children’s abilities, what

texture can produce highly successful

During an offsite arts session,

makes them smile and what to avoid.

ways to learn and have fun, where other

children and teachers alike are often

At the Gallery, we organised twilight

more conventional methods might fail.

outside their comfort zone and all

visits enabling teachers and carers to

This might take the form of children

concerned need to be mindful of this.

come to the space before the session

running their hands over a cool, smooth

Flexibility is crucial and it is important

and ask questions about art, the facilities

surface such as a marble column, or

to be able to adapt according to the

and the session’s aims. Gaining this

feeling the softness of a feather. It might

children’s responses. Not everything

insight helped them to see how they

involve listening to a recording of the

will go to plan and unpredictable things

rustling sound of leaves or experiencing

will happen. However, it is perhaps this

the physical pounding action and

very element of unpredictability that can

sound of grinding charcoal in a pestle

produce some of the most rewarding

and mortar.

aspects of any art-based session.

The use of essential oils such as cedar to evoke wood is effective but must be carefully managed, as not all children respond well to them. It is important not to overwhelm the visitors and to allow them time to recognise and appreciate what might seem to be small gestures and reactions to an evocative Workshops can provide the inspiration for artbased sessions in school.

soundscape recording of birdsong, wind and rain or buzzing bees.

Further information

Ali Mawle is Head of Schools at the National Gallery in London, with responsibility for the on-site, outreach and on-line programme for primary and secondary pupils and their teachers, SEN schools and units and PMLD pupils and their staff:





A brief history of autism Maggie Wilson considers the big ideas that have shaped our ever-changing understanding of autism


hroughout the history of

living in isolation (Lane, 1977). Jean

autism, those at the forefront

Itard, a physician, worked tirelessly

of change have been parents;

over many years with Victor, focusing



on socialising him. Although Victor’s

prevailing professional attitudes and


expressive language did not develop,

opinions and pushed the boundaries of

his understanding of the world and of

intervention. Some of the professionals

other people improved considerably.

in the field have also been parents of

Several reports of “feral” children

children with autism – perhaps most

of varying reliability (Newton, 2002)

These difficulties were conceptualised within the dominant paradigm of the time – that of insanity

notably Bernard Rimland and Lorna

are included in the literature on

However, more recent examples where

Wing – and parents continue to play a

autism, although, as with Victor, it is

a lack of stimulation in early childhood

big role in the evolution of knowledge

difficult to differentiate the effects of

has lead to autism-like conditions have

about the condition. More recently,

early deprivation from a biological

been seen in the effects on development

people with autism themselves have

condition. This has been the difficulty

of children unfortunate enough to

found a voice through which to share

with identifying cases from historical

have been “cared for” in Romanian

their experiences and shape the political,

accounts of possible autism – the

orphanages at the beginning of

social and research agenda in relation

unknown influence of the environment.

this century.

to autism. Over the past seventy years, the concept of autism has undergone several changes in line with the concurrent professional and scientific milieu. This article will examine these changes along with some thoughts about future directions in our framing of the experiences, similarities and differences in the population of people labelled “autistic”.

Autism in historical accounts Several interesting accounts of children who were markedly unusual in their abilities and interactions have been noted through the centuries. Perhaps the most famous of these is Victor, a youngster who was discovered in 1797 near St-Sernin-sur-Rance, France, having spent several years SENISSUE61

Leo Kanner's work in the 1940's outlined early diagnostic criteria for autism.



could “break through”, and lengthy psychoanalysis of the whole family stemmed from the conceptualisation which marked this era.

A neurological condition In the 1960s, an American psychologist and parent of a child with autism, Bernard Rimland, wrote a landmark text suggesting that autism was a neurological disorder – based in biology, not faulty relationships. In the middle of the twentieth century, reasons for a child's condition were sought in family relationships.

At the same time, professional thinking around the formation of, and interventions for, mental, cognitive and

A medical condition

in the 19'80s. Although Asperger’s

emotional disorders was changing

Children whose abilities and behaviour

syndrome is soon to be no longer an

and behaviourism moved the focus

accord with our current understanding

independent part of the DSM 5 schedule,

from early relationships to learned

of autism have also been described by

I retain it here for clarity.

behaviours. If individuals had learned

some early psychiatrists. John Haslem

Whilst both Kanner and Asperger

inappropriate or unhelpful behaviours,

(1809) and Henry Maudsley (1879) had

recognised the constitutional basis of

they could be helped to learn more

patients who spoke of themselves in

autism, it came to be known popularly as

adaptive behaviours. Through the '70s

the third person, were solitary, had a

“juvenile schizophrenia”. Coupled with

and '80s, behavioural study continued

very narrow range of deep interests and

the cultural and professional dominance

and the work of Ivar Lovaas, whilst

did not form attachments to caregivers

of psycho-analytic approaches to

controversial then and since, was

(Wolff, 2004). These difficulties were

emotional, cognitive and mental health

influential in demonstrating that children

conceptualised within the dominant

challenges at the time, this led to a

with autism could learn more normative

paradigm of the time – that of insanity.

particular conceptualisation of and

behaviours (Anderson, 2007). Autism was thus seen as a

Psychiatry was at a very early stage at the turn of the twentieth century and the idea of cognitive disabilities and differences took several decades to emerge and to influence clinical practice.

A psychogenic disorder In the 1940s, two clinicians working independently outlined the conditions

Rimland’s landmark text suggested that autism was a neurological disorder based in biology, not faulty relationships

neurological condition, which was treatable by psychological intervention. Many of the earlier observations were forgotten: Kanner had remarked on the increased head size of children with autism; Asperger had noted similar personality traits in the parents of children with Asperger’s syndrome

we know as autism and Asperger’s

(Wolff, 2004). Whilst some of the

syndrome. Leo Kanner (1943), working

strategies used over this period are now

in America, differentiated a group

approach to the condition. Reasons

anathema to professionals, this phase

of children with distinctive patterns

for the child’s condition were sought

in the evolution of our understanding of

of strengths and needs from other

within the relationships in the family and

autism recognised that children are able

children with difficulties. He outlined

parenting styles were scrutinised. The

to learn and to develop.

the diagnostic criteria which are, largely,

concept of parents who were emotionally

still followed and called these children

unavailable – the “refrigerator mother” of

A developmental disorder

“autistic” (Rutter, 2005).

Bettelheim’s view – must have added to

As technology gave researchers greater

Hans Asperger (1944) also outlined

families’ distress. Approaches such as

ability to collect and collate data about

the condition, although his work was

removing the child from the “pathogenic”

populations and individuals, so the

not recognised widely until Lorna Wing

family (Rutter 2005), holding therapy,

conceptualisation of autism advanced.

addressed the broader autism question

where the child was held until the adult





Lorna Wing and Judith Gould’s seminal

educational options based on particular

work in the '70s and '80s led to a re-

understandings of autism. So, whilst

evaluation of the condition, giving

autism was seen as a neurological issue,

estimates of prevalence and also

intervention was largely educational.

Understanding of the developmental nature of autism led to an emphasis on early intervention

broadening the diagnostic gate. The

During this period, the Human

concept of the “autism spectrum” was

Genome Project captured both the

fundamental in shifting the professional

professional and popular imagination.

and popular mindset from autism as a

As is often the case, when seeking

discrete disorder to that of a continuum

simple answers to complex questions,


of strengths and needs. The emergence

many were quick to use the latest

The suggestion for DSM 5 (due to be

of Asperger’s syndrome (again

ideas to produce all-encompassing

published in 2013) is that the diagnostic

Wing’s work) as part of the spectrum

theories; “faulty genes” were sought

differentiations are dropped, and a

strengthened this concept.

for a whole range of human difficulties,

single diagnosis of “autism” is available

Work through the '80s and '90s

from autism to diabetes. The discovery

to the clinician. This emphasises the

framed autism as a developmental

that some gene sites appear to be

unique presentation of the condition

disorder: affected children did not

implicated in the development of

in individuals. “Autism” indicates the

reach developmental milestones in the

autism seemed to offer some answers.

presence of difficulties in the anticipated

areas of language, socialisation and

The downside of this approach is, of

fields of social communication and

imagination/flexibility of thought and

course, the accompanying mistaken

restricted patterns of behaviour, but the

behaviour. Toward the end of the '90s,

notion that one’s genes are one’s

general feeling is that the new criteria

it became increasingly recognised that

destiny: that genetic make-up dictates

will lead to a decrease in diagnosis rates

people on the spectrum also had high

biological futures.

as many people with difficulties will not

rates of anxiety and marked sensory-

meet the new criteria.

number of important texts dealing with

The future: a multi-system condition

An autism constellation?

these aspects of the condition (see

As research methods have become

Further, the range of conditions which

Seroussi, 2002).

perceptual differences, resulting in a

yet more sophisticated, so our picture

are associated with autism – such as


of autism has become less plausible,

ADD/ADHD, OCD and dyspraxia – point

developmental nature of the condition

particularly in terms of our conception

to a much more complex aetiology and

led to an emphasis on the importance

of autism as:

presentation (Seroussi, 2002). Given




of early intervention – the need to teach

(a) a disorder comprising the

our advancing understanding of these

the young child not only the skills which

discrete variants: autism, Asperger’s

relationships, in the future, we may

s/he did not acquire in the way that

syndrome, childhood disintegrative

well see an “autism constellation”

neurotypical children did, but also to

disorder and PDDNOS

where these associated conditions

teach the child how to learn. Approaches

(b) present from birth and

also become part of the individual’s

to helping those with autism offered

(c) fixed.

primary diagnosis. Thus, whilst we may have one, broad diagnosis (autism) the elements of the individual’s condition can be more thoroughly described and defined within it. “Late onset” autism For many decades, parents have been reporting that children, who at two to three years old are clearly autistic, had become so following a period of typical development and regression. The

In the '80s and '90s, an understanding of the sensory perception differences of those on the spectrum came to the fore.


advent of cheap and reliable audio and video recording has made it possible


for clinicians to view the individual child’s development closely from home movies and, indeed, the proportion of children who are later diagnosed with autism, who regress after a period of typical development, does appear to

Recent work suggests a much more complex and intricate picture of autism than previously imagined

be increasing.

amenable to physical as well as educational intervention.

Conclusions Autism has received an increasing amount of research and media attention over the past two decades.

here – whether cause or effect – is

The questions around causes of the

Gastro-intestinal challenges

unclear, but many parents report the

condition and the apparent anomalies

Perhaps the most exciting field of

onset of autistic regression following

of human functioning (savant syndrome,

change is that of the awareness of

a biological insult, such as an infection

Tourette’s syndrome) make it appealing

other body systems involved in an

or seizure.

to the media. As the brief commentary

individual’s autism. Again, for decades

above has noted, our conceptualisation

parents have been reporting the gastro-

Metabolic differences

of autism is a cultural product, not an

intestinal problems their children have:

A new area of research is that of

objective categorisation. It depends

diarrhoea, food intolerances, stomach

metabolic functioning in individuals with

on the direction of scientific advances,

cramps and extreme food preferences

autism. Research in this field is pretty

societal attitudes and values, and

(the beige diet). Whilst previously these

disparate; however, work on oxidative

(certainly in research terms) competing

have been ignored, parental pressure

stress apparently indicates significant

voices. However, the prevalence of the

has recently focussed much more

differences in functioning between the

condition – now estimated at one in

attention on these difficulties, which are,

neurotypical and autistic individual at

100 – would warrant a continuing high

in some cases, extreme. The gluten-free,

a cellular level (James, in Zimmerman,

level of interest. As a result of this, we

casein-free diet, seen as outlandish ten


can anticipate further changes in our

years ago, is now part of the mainstream

Taken together, this work suggests a

approach to autism. One would hope

much more complex and intricate picture

that in another ten years time, thorough

of autism than previously imagined.

gastro-intestinal investigation would be

Should the research on immune and

part of the diagnostic and therapeutic

metabolic differences in autism come

approach to autism in individuals.

to fruition, we may see a protocol for early intervention which includes not just

Immune system challenges

work on language, social understanding

More recently, it has been suggested

and sensory sensitivities, but on dietary

that the food issues discussed above

supplementation and attention to

are part of a broader picture of immune

individuals’ metabolic profiles. All of this

system dysfunction in individuals with

marks another paradigm shift – away

autism. It is broadly thought that the

from fixed, developmental unfolding

immune system over-reacts to some

of the condition (albeit ameliorated by

substances and under-reacts to others

educational intervention) toward the

(see Zimmerman, 2008). The relationship

concept of a multi-faceted condition,

References and Bibliography ƒƒ Anderson, M., Tales from the Table: Lovaas/ ABA Intervention with Children on the Autistic Spectrum (2008) London: Jessica Kingsley Publisher. ƒƒ Bettelheim, B., The empty fortress: Infantile autism and the birth of the self (1967) New York: Free Press. ƒƒ Happe, F., Autism: An introduction to psychological theory (1994) London: UCL Press. ƒƒ Herbert, M. and Weintraub, K., The autism revolution: Whole-body strategies for making life all it can be (2012) New York: Random House Books. ƒƒ Hermelin, B., Bright splinters of the mind: A personal story of research with autistic savants (2011) London: Jessica Kingsley Publisher.

ƒƒ Houston, R. and Frith, U., Autism in history: The case of Hugh Blair of Borgue (2000) Oxford: Blackwell Publishers Ltd. ƒƒ Huws, J. and Jones, R., Missing Voices: Representations of autism in British newspapers, 1999-2008. British Journal of Learning Disabilities. (2010) 39, 98-104. ƒƒ Lane, H., The Wild Boy of Aveyron (1977) London: Allen and Unwin. ƒƒ Newton, M., Savage girls and wild boys: a history of feral children (2002) London: Faber and Faber. ƒƒ Rimland, M., Infantile autism: The syndrome and its implications for a neural theory of behaviour (1965) London: Methuen. ƒƒ Rutter, M., Autism research: Lessons from the past and prospects for the future. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders (2005) 35(2) 241-256.

understanding of what autism is.

Further information

Dr Maggie Wilson runs Autism: Learning and Development Ltd, a company which provides early educational intervention for preschool children on the autistic spectrum. She also works with schools to support children and staff groups to address the aspects of autism spectrum conditions in individuals which may prove challenging in the classroom.

ƒƒ Sanders, J., Qualitative or quantitative differences between Asperger’s disorder and autism Historical considerations. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders (2009) 39 1560-1567. ƒƒ Seroussi, K., Unravelling the Mystery of Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorder: A Mother's Story of Research & Recovery (2002) New York: Broadways Books. ƒƒ Silverman, C., Understanding Autism: Parents, doctors and the history of a disorder (2011) New Jersey: Princetown University Press. ƒƒ Wolff, S., The history of autism. European Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (2004) 13, 201-208. ƒƒ Zimmerman, A. (Ed.), Autism: Current Theories and Evidence (2008) New Jersey: Humana Press.






Affordable new method promotes sensory integration, activates language processing and builds life skills Using specially processed music and speech, the new neuro-sensory SAS method activates each brain-half separately to improve inter-hemispheric communication, speed up processing and strengthen language development. Client feedback indicates major improvements in attention, understanding, speech and language, social skills, behaviour and most importantly self-worth. When applied intensively for one hour every day for 3 to 4 weeks, the fully personalised programmes aim to build new, lasting habits of processing in the brain. As the method does not require following instructions, movement, attention or feedback, it can be used by clients of all abilities and ages. A full course includes over 100,000 cross mid-line processing movements. Every course is individually designed to ensure the programmes fit the abilities and needs of the client and have maximum effectiveness. The SAS method is available at SAS Centres and Practitioners in the U.K., Australia and Turkey. Fully personalised programmes can also be ordered via the web with prices starting from under ÂŁ 120 for a course of 12 half-hour programmes. Information and training for therapists and educational and health professionals is available.

Find out more today about this exciting new method by calling Nicole or Steven on 020 – 3239 4880, by visiting our website at, or by emailing Sensory Activation Solutions Ltd, 9 Sonia Close, Watford, WD19 4PD, U.K.




Promotional feature

New 2012/13 catalogue from Total Sensory Total Sensory has launched its new fourth edition catalogue. It’s packed full of innovative sensory resources, from traditional bubble tubes and fibre optics to some new product launches, including sensory musical gloves, play ‘n’ go all sense cases, new LED projectors, weighted blankets and more.

Total Sensory’s Draw ‘n’ Glow kit is available to purchase online.

Information on Total Sensory’s design services, catering for sensory and soft play rooms, can also be found in the new catalogue. To request your free copy, call: 01702 542231 or visit:





school action

Farewell to School Action

The abolition of School Action and School Action Plus may leave many children with SEN without the support they need, says Amelia Roberts


• There will be new measures

s the Children and Families

protection as they did under the

Bill works its way through

previous statement of SEN. Where this

in performance tables on the

Parliament, there are a

gets less clear, however, is how this

progress of disadvantaged pupils

number of unanswered

will affect children who aren’t eligible

and those in the lowest-attaining

questions on what future SEN provision

for a combined plan, but would have

will look like. This is particularly true

previously been on School Action or

To support schools during this transition,

for children who don’t need the new

School Action Plus. There may be

government proposals include:

combined education, health and care

distinct geographical differences, too,

• increased emphasis on managing

plan (EHCP), but will still require focused

as local authorities will be publishing

SEN in school as part of initial

intervention in school. Many of these

a “local offer” of provision available to

teacher training

children are likely to be on School Action

children with SEN, which will vary from

or School Action Plus at the moment, both

region to region.

of which are to be abolished. Individual education plans will also go, while the SEN Code of Practice will be revised. This reflects the coalition’s stance that SEN is over identified in schools. Currently, School Action is used when a child is not making progress

How will this affect children who aren’t eligible for a combined education, health and care plan?

at school and there is a need for

20 per cent.”

• increased emphasis on continuous professional development and ongoing training • increased focus by Ofsted on ways in which SEN is identified and the progression of the lowest attaining 20 per cent. Although there is still some way to go before the Bill becomes legislation, all indicators suggest that the majority

action to be taken. It can include the

The National Association for Head

of these changes will go ahead. The

involvement of extra teachers and

Teachers (NAHT) describes the changes

aspiration of managing a diverse range

may also require the use of different

thus: “The Green Paper says current

of children’s needs within the school

learning materials, special equipment

practice harms children who do not

setting is laudable, but what will this look

or a different teaching strategy. School

have SEN but are identified as such. It

like at the chalk face? What support

Action Plus is used where School Action

says: ‘This problem of over-identification

and resources will teachers have at their

has not been able to help the child make

sustains a culture of low expectations for

fingertips to turn these aspirations into

adequate progress. The school may

these children and can mean that they

a vibrant and dynamic reality? This is

seek external advice from appropriate

do not get the right help. It can distract

a crucial time as no-one quite knows

support services, such as a speech

teachers away from their main priority of

what will replace School Action and

and language therapist, occupational

teaching pupils, assessing where they

School Action Plus in terms of “real

therapist or specialist autism advisory

are in their learning and ensuring they

life” provision, particularly for those

service. Provision may also include one-

get the right help where needed.’

children who fall just short of accessing

to-one support and the involvement of an educational psychologist.

“Instead, the government wants to

the combined EHCP.

embed the approach of the Achievement for All project, change statutory guidance

Gaps in provision

on how SEN should be identified and

Under the new arrangements, School

enforce ‘sharper accountability.’

Action and School Action Plus will

• “The SEN Code of Practice

be replaced by the combined EHCP.

will be shorter and clearer for

Children who have a combined plan

professionals, including those in

will have the same level of statutory

early years settings

Further information Dr Amelia Roberts is Project Researcher for The Literacy and Dyslexia-SpLD Professional Development Framework:





The changing role of the SENCO As the new Teachers’ Standards and Ofsted framework take effect, Lorraine Petersen examines how SENCOs can help school staff meet the needs of all pupils


ith one in five pupils

Standards, now in operation, place a

identified as having a

greater emphasis on supporting pupils

special or additional

with SEN. Challenging professionals

educational need, the

to adapt teaching to respond to the

role of the SENCO has never been so

strengths and needs of all pupils, the

important to whole school development

Standards also call on teachers to use

and improvement. The new Ofsted

and evaluate distinctive approaches to

framework and the new Teachers’

engage and support them.

The revised Ofsted framework will impact greatly upon the role of the SENCO a far greater number of support staff

Standards focus on teachers supporting

This has a clear impact on the role of

– this includes time-tabling, training,

the most vulnerable pupils to ensure that

the SENCO; diverse responsibilities for

performance management, ensuring

they are making significant progress.

the role include staff training, working

effective provision and assisting with planning of work.

The inclusion agenda, SENCO

with external organisations, classroom

regulations and the National Award have

observation, impacting on teaching and

led to significant changes in the role

learning, data analysis and leading on

Ofsted inspection framework

of the SENCO over the past decade.

school improvement. The specification

The revised Ofsted framework will impact

The recent announcement of a sizeable

for the National Award for SEN Co-

greatly upon the role of the SENCO.

fall in the number of pupils identified

ordination lays out very clearly the

Although the overall responsibility is

as having SEN belies the simple fact

knowledge, skills and understanding that

with the leadership of the school, there

that there are many more children

a twenty-first century SENCO should

are a number of aspects within the

with special and additional needs in

have; one of the significant changes

four key judgements that the SENCO

mainstream schools. The new Teacher

to the role is the line management of

will be expected to have the evidence to support. The revised framework will focus sharply on those aspects of schools’ work that have the greatest impact on raising achievement. Engagement with headteachers, school staff, governors, parents, pupils and staff is also a key theme. The framework will focus in more depth on the achievement of pupils, the quality of teaching, the behaviour and safety of pupils and the quality of leadership and management of the school. Pupil development – spiritual, moral, social and cultural – will also be a key measure, and inspectors

SENCOs should oversee appropriate intervention strategies for those with SEN.


will examine the extent to which the


The SENCO is vital in ensuring that all the changes within SEN policy are implemented in schools Children with SEN need effective advocates.

For some SENCOs, one of the more recent aspects of their role is working with other schools (especially special schools) and external agencies to ensure a holistic model of support for a child. With more and more children with complex needs in our mainstream schools there is a much greater need to seek advice and support from other

The announcement of the second year

professionals to ensure that provision

education provided by the school

of the National Scholarship for teachers

meets the needs of each individual.

meets the needs of the range of pupils,

and the introduction of a scholarship

Although every teacher is clearly

particularly those with SEN.

for SEN support staff was broadly

a teacher of children with SEN, there

The emphasis within the evaluation

welcomed, as was the fourth year

needs to be one lead person who can

schedule is very clearly targeted at

of funding for the National Award for

support what they are doing in the

those pupils who are underachieving

SEN Co-ordination.

classroom. SENCOs not only advocate

and who are not making the expected

Many SENCOs facilitate CPD within

for children but can be instrumental in

progress. These may be pupils who have

their own school or arrange for outside

developing early intervention strategies,

an identified special educational need

agencies to provide specialist training

carrying out assessments and advising

and/or disability, but they may well be

and support as the need arises. Schools

on appropriate and alternative

a significant group within a school who

should have at least one full day per year

interventions and strategies as the child

are not receiving the targeted support

looking at SEN and how to adapt the

moves through the school.

that they need to improve.

curriculum and teaching styles to meet

The SENCO is vital in ensuring that

The key to a school’s success is

the needs of all children. Secondary

all the changes within SEN policy are

that they can evidence high quality

SENCOs often offer additional twilight

implemented in schools. Although the

educational provision which is offered

sessions for newly qualified teachers or

SENCO regulation in 2008 legislated

every day to every pupil. The SENCO

new school staff, but these are voluntary.

that all SENCOs must be qualified

has always played a very important part

Local authorities (LAs) have provided

teachers and those appointed since

within a school inspection; however, the

SENCO conferences but these can

2008 must undertake the award, the

new schedule will demand much more

become information giving sessions

quality assurance processes is still not

from this already extensive role and,

rather than quality CPD and can differ

robust and so is not being systematically

therefore, it is really important that the

from one authority to another. There

implemented across the country. The

foundation stones are laid to enable

is increased concern that with the

SENCO is very important and we must

the SENCO to carry out the strategic

staffing cuts taking place at LA level,

ensure that governing bodies understand

role effectively. This means ensuring

much of this support may disappear and

that they need time and resources to

that all staff have the skills, knowledge

schools will have to look at alternative

carry out their role and responsibilities

and understanding they need to provide

ways of accessing training and

to the highest level. Schools also need

high quality teaching and learning

support providers.

to ensure that there are high-quality

opportunities for all pupils.

The National Award for SEN Coordination has seen some excellent

Continuing professional development and local support

examples of networking opportunities,

One of the key messages within the

within an LA and beyond. Some

Government’s SEN Green Paper, and

special schools offer excellent training

reinforced in the new Ofsted framework,

opportunities for mainstream staff but

is the need for high-quality continuing

this is not the national picture. There

professional development (CPD)

is an increased role for special and

opportunities for the school workforce

mainstream schools to work together

and those who work with schools

within clusters/federations to support

supporting children and young people.

CPD opportunities for all staff.

both online and face to face, developing

continuing professional development opportunities for all staff.

Further information

Lorraine Petersen OBE is Chief Executive Officer of nasen, the UK professional association for special and additional educational needs and disabilities. nasen is the Department for Education’s delivery partner for free specialist SEN training:





Promotional feature

Vodafone volunteers transform gardens at Prior’s Court School Eighty volunteers from Vodafone’s legal team joined staff at Prior’s Court School for children with autism to give two residential house gardens a make-over. From building raised beds, to laying new turf and gravelled areas, the volunteers transformed the gardens, providing structured areas where the students can enjoy their surroundings and grow flowers, fruit and vegetables as part of their horticulture and vocational activities. For more details about Prior’s Court School, call: 01635 247202, email: or visit: SENISSUE61

spina bifida


Part of the team Gobi Ranganathan tells how an inclusive education taught him to deal with his spina bifida and achieve at school and beyond


they knew that I would have special

Even before I started any schooling,

needs, which they felt might not be

I was encouraged by my parents to be

catered for in Singapore, the place of

active, and they were keen to get me

my birth. Following discussions with

doing as much as possible. I may have

family and friends, it was agreed that the

had some physical restrictions, but there

a range of disabilities, I accepted that

chances of receiving better healthcare

was no reason why I couldn’t be active

everyone had their own needs and it

for me would be improved by emigration

in some way.

was all part of growing up.

was born with spina bifida.

England would help me considerably, I

Understandably, my parents had

don’t think even they envisaged just how

concerns about my wellbeing and

well things were going to turn out for me.

I was given the opportunity to do exactly the same things as my classmates

to another country. It was a massive step

Needless to say, my first memories

for my parents to take, but the idea of

of school (attending a special needs

Into the mainstream

moving to England was a decisive one.

nursery) are somewhat limited, though I

Somewhere along the line, it was

While my parents clearly thought that

do remember feeling a part of “normal”

decided that I would benefit from

better health and support facilities in

school life. As the other children had

going to a mainstream school. I’m not entirely sure who’s decision it was, but I soon found myself going along to a mainstream nursery once a week. From the initial weekly sessions, I was slowly integrated into full-time attendance at the nursery, and my life as a disabled child in a mainstream school had started. To assist with the transition to primary school, I was provided with my own welfare assistant, Val, who was there for me throughout my time in infant and junior school. I settled in well at the new school and took part in pretty much everything that the class did. I was given the option, and opportunity, to do exactly the same things as my classmates, albeit with some allowances in the more physical aspects of school, such as PE lessons, sports days and school trips. In my opinion, this inclusive approach was crucial to my integration at school; it was a big step for all concerned as it involved educating teachers and my friends about what my physical

Gobi with the Olympic flame in Stevenage in July 2012.


capabilities were. Although I didn’t

spina bifida

to work and play without having someone looking over my shoulder all the time. This was a big turning point in my school life, not just for me, but for my friends as well. Rather than having my assistant by


The step up to a secondary school was a massive concern for my parents

my side during play time and lunchtime, I wanted to play with my friends – having

Taking part in sport was always important to Gobi as a child.

a kick-about in the playground, going in

Practical considerations, such as

goal (on my knees) on the field, or sitting

moving between classrooms, going

on the ground playing with my toy cars.

upstairs and managing PE lessons,

My friends rallied around to help

were all important, and there were also

when needed, and were more than

concerns regarding my mobility and

happy to involve me in any of the social

having the use of a suitable toilet facility.

activities within school. By that age,

However, one-by-one, these issues were

realise it then, the options provided to

they’d already realised that I had my own

addressed and I was soon functioning

me gave me a sense of confidence and

needs and they were supportive of what

happily at the school.

enabled me to focus on the things that

I was trying to achieve. Furthermore,

I could do, rather than the things that I

they were also very protective of me,

place, I was provided with my own

couldn’t do – something I have carried

particularly with those in other classes

personal disabled toilet (for which I had

forward into adulthood.

who were less understanding of

the key), and I was given permission

my disability.

to take refuge in the nurse’s room as

I always enjoyed PE and at school sports days I was encouraged to get




The school already had ramps in


and when I needed to (and also during

involved and take part. Although some

independence and had shown teachers

break times if I didn’t feel up to heading

of the activities needed modifying for

and my welfare assistant that I was more

outdoors). This wasn’t always an offer I

me, I was still able to contribute to the

than capable of managing a number

took up but, now and then, the option of

points total gained by my team, which

of things on my own. Introducing me

getting away from it all was very handy.

gave me a real sense of achievement

to my class at an early age helped to

My timetable was also modified to ensure

and belonging. I wasn’t just the disabled

educate my classmates to the extent

that all my classes were in ground floor

kid, making up the numbers – I was part

that they knew that there were going

rooms or in accessible portakabins.

of a team.

to be differences, and they therefore

Once again, my peers soon realised

accepted this as the norm. Obviously,

my capabilities and they rallied around

Reaching for independence

greater independence also gave me a

where they could to assist me, but

While my involvement at junior school

massive confidence boost; I was no

without patronising me or wrapping

was very much the same as it had

longer disabled – just differently able.

me in cotton wool. I was a student

been at infant school, my needs were changing and I also wanted to experience more independence.

like everyone else, had homework like

Moving up to secondary school

everyone else and, needless to say, had else too.

the occasional telling off like everyone

To allow me to sample this, my welfare

My junior school had started me on the

assistant was given other roles within the

road to success and independence.

Teachers treated me no differently to

school, so that I could remain seated

However, it was at comprehensive

any other student. A basic understanding

with my classmates, without someone

school that I truly developed into a

of the physical requirements I had and

constantly sitting nearby throughout

confident and determined individual.

some empathy towards my disability

lesson time. I was allowed to request

The step up to a secondary school

were all it took for me to feel settled.

assistance as and when I needed it,

was a massive concern for my parents,

Student life in secondary school was

with Val soon on hand to help out on

welfare assistant and teachers alike.

soon to develop even further and it was

such occasions.

Many questions were asked about my

with the help of the PE department that

Inevitably, my confidence grew and

ability to cope in a school where the

I got a taste of what I could achieve.

I soon wanted to be like my peers –

lifestyle would be different in every way

having the freedom and independence

to that which I was used to.


spina bifida


Sporting chance Rather than exclude me from PE lessons that weren’t practical for me, I was provided with options of sports activities that I could do, in some instances with a classmate or two of my choice.

I had evolved from a disabled child into a disabled student, and then simply into a student

at school, I very much doubt that any of this would have been possible.

Looking to the future With all the modernisation and upgrading of school facilities that has taken place recently, and with an

I always avoided rugby on the field and tended instead to opt for tennis

emphasis of better provision for disabled

or badminton. I was even given the

adamant that I take part in PE and other

students, I hope that the inclusive ethos

opportunity to take part in cross country

school activities.

I experienced will come to be the norm

running, although my route involved

All this made me look at what I was

in all schools. In order for children to

slight detours to avoid grass or any

able to do rather than taking the easy

have an understanding of disabilities

muddy areas. When others took part

way out and just not doing anything at

and how they are dealt with in day-to-

in athletics and hurdles, I had extra

all. I had evolved from a disabled child

day life, such integration is essential. For

practice with the javelin and shot putt.

into a disabled student, and then simply

those with a disability, greater support

In rounders, I took my turn at batting

into a student, just like everyone else

and empathy shown by others would

while someone was nominated to run

at school.

certainly serve to provide much needed

Spurred on by my experiences at

boosts to their confidence and self-

The key thing at both primary and

school, my interest and expertise in

esteem, which can be further challenged

secondary school was that I was given

sport have developed throughout my life.

when they reach adulthood.

flexibility, options and opportunities to

I have enjoyed a fair bit of success as an

I am truly thankful to all the staff at

try different things. The schools never

international para-badminton player and

my schools for supporting me in all

obstructed me by saying that I couldn’t

today I am European Champion in men's

that I did. My welfare assistant was

do anything. The focus was very much

doubles and ranked world number two

particularly influential and also helped

on what I wanted to do and what I

in men's singles. I was also honoured to

to educate my classmates and show

could do. It would have been easy for

be selected as an Olympic torchbearer

them that a person with a disability can

teachers to let me sit in a classroom or

in Stevenage in July 2012. Without the

be a success.

the library during lessons, but they were

support and encouragement I received

for me.

School life is always going to be difficult, whatever your ability, but having measures in place that demonstrate understanding and show a willingness to be flexible can take schools a long way towards supporting all their students. If there is one single thing that needs to be remembered, it is this: disability is not inability.

Further information

Today, Gobi is a European champion at para-badminton.


Gobi Ranganathan was a highways engineer for 12 years and now works for the charity Shine, which helps families and individuals affected by spina bifida and hydrocephalus:



Healthy mind, everybody Pupils with complex SEN are particularly prone to mental health issues, yet their needs are going unrecognised and unsupported, says Rachel Allan


n recent years, we have seen an increase in the incidence of mental health concerns for children and young people with complex SEN.

Indeed, a child with a learning disability is six times more likely to present with a mental health difficulty throughout his/her life than a child without one

Lack of knowledge leads to lack of confidence in identifying concerns about a young person’s mental health

(Emerson and Hatton, 2007). Studies

diagnostic overshadowing (Bernard, et al., 2010). This confusion was found particularly in teaching staff within some special schools who, for example, found it hard to identify high levels of anxiety as a potential additional mental health concern in children with a diagnosis of ASD (NASS, 2007). Typically, mental health concerns in

also show a need for greater awareness

which may make them more predisposed

children with complex SEN have been

of these issues when specific conditions

to developing a mental health concern.

identified by observing behaviours, such

are considered. For example, 70 per

These include social exclusion, poverty,

as increases in challenging incidents or

cent of children with autistic spectrum

lack of verbal communication skills and

withdrawal from activities. However, in

disorders (ASD) will have a mental

low cognitive ability.

children who have profound and multiple

health concern at some point in their life (National Autistic Society, 2010). For some children with other complex

needs, it may be that we need to be

Supporting pupils with complex SEN

SEN, the true extent of the problem is still unknown.

aware of more physical responses to identify distress, such as sweating, eye movements and body posture


(Cooper, 2008).

Why, though, might this group of

It can be very difficult for school staff to

children and young people be more

know whether to attribute behaviours to

Lack of Knowledge

vulnerable? Emerson and Hatton’s work

a child’s primary diagnosis or identified

Research has shown that, within some

highlights some interesting risk factors in

SEN, or a separate mental health

services, there is a lack of specialised

the lives of children with complex SEN

concern. This is often referred to as

knowledge regarding mental health in >>



mental health

There needs to be an improvement in the training and support offered to schools

children with complex SEN. A number

young people may not be adaptable

of reports have mentioned a difficultly in

for situations involving children with

accessing child and adolescent mental

severe and complex needs who may

health services (CAMHS) for those

have communication difficulties or low

children and young people with complex

cognitive ability, leaving their problems

SEN, and that long referral times and a

unidentified and often untreated.

lack of specialised knowledge create

Bernard (2010) suggests that in order

serious barriers for schools in securing

to try and assess the mental health

appropriate support (NASS, 2007;

of a child or young person with a

this population. By raising awareness

Fergusson et al., 2008; Rose, et al., 2009).

learning disability we need to take a

and equipping school and care staff

Sometimes, a mental health concern has

comprehensive and multi-disciplinary

to be alert to potential concerns,

been attributed as part of the child’s SEN

approach that considers aspects such

more children who need support will

and, as a consequence, limited support

as observations, past history, and a

be identified.

is available for those who need it. NASS

reliance on information from third parties,

A recent research project, Making

(2007) found that this might be due to

including teachers, parents, and social

Sense of Mental Health, suggests that to

two factors: low expectations in respect

workers, who know the individual well.

identify any potential issues we should be

to the individual’s behaviour, or a causal

observing any changes in many different

factor in behaviour that schools and

Lack of training

aspects of the child’s life, so that we take

professionals were unable to explain.

Emerson and Hatton found that 42 per

a holistic approach to understanding

Additionally, education and care staff

cent of mental health concerns are dealt

their mental health. This includes looking

have reported feeling that they don’t

with by school and education staff, but

for changes in areas such as their

know what a mental health need is, or

NASS found that staff lack training within

emotions, relationships, communication,

how to respond to a pupil who may

this area and there is a great need for

and thinking and learning, not just solely

have a mental health concern/or a dual

help and advice in the identification of

behavioural changes.

diagnosis of a mental health need in

concerns and how to refer these on to

There is also a need to improve

addition to their complex SEN (NASS,

other professionals. Fergusson at al.

communication with external services,

2007). However, it is important for staff

(2008) found that, although the majority

such as CAMHS, to ensure that children

working in schools to recognise that

of staff had wide experience of working

and young people are being supported

they are often better equipped with

with individuals with complex SEN,

adequately. The report This is What

knowledge about the child than any

they had not had the opportunity to

We Want (Foundation for People with

other professional, and this knowledge

access specific mental health training to

Learning Difficulties, 2006) showed that

is extremely valuable in spotting issues

support them in distinguishing between

young people with complex SEN want

of concern and supporting pupils to

characteristics of the existing SEN and

to have access to the same services

receive appropriate help. In some

possible mental health problems, or the

as everybody else. The National

cases, though, lack of knowledge

opportunity to learn about appropriate

CAMHS Review (2008) also proposed

leads to lack of confidence in identifying

ways of responding to individual needs

that all children and young people

concerns about a young person’s

when they have identified a concern.

should have equal access to services,

mental health. This also has an impact

regardless of disability. Additionally,

on the support and care offered to the

Where can we go from here?

if someone does have a disability or

individuals concerned.

Although the issues around mental

SEN, they should expect that their

health in children with complex needs

mental health needs will be assessed


are complex in themselves, and research

alongside their other needs, regardless

Children and young people with limited

within this area is ever evolving, there

of which need is initially identified. S/he

or no verbal communication may find

needs to be an improvement in the

should also expect an individualised

it difficult to express their concerns

training and support offered to schools.

package of care appropriate to his/her

and feelings, and school staff often

Fergusson et al. also suggest that

personal circumstances (Department

find it hard to interpret their needs or

provision of appropriate support for

of Health, 2008). However, this may

distress. Additionally, some clinical

children with complex needs depends

not be happening for a large number

assessment tools that are designed for

on the establishment of an informed

of individuals with complex needs and

the general population of children and

picture of the mental health needs in

additional mental health concerns.


mental health

Potential mental health issues might be revealed in many different areas of a child’s life. Image copyright NASS (2012).

In Making Sense of Mental Health,

• embedding evidence-based

research emphasised the importance

practice across all children

of forming good working relationships

and young people’s mental

with external services to encourage the

health services

formation of strong and effective links to mental health support for pupils. This



• involving children and young people in the design of services.


The Department for Education (DfE)

as joint working and training, a

has also commissioned the BOND

mutual understanding of roles and

consortium, led by the charity



YoungMinds, to work with the voluntary


and community sectors to develop their





(Pettit, 2003). Recently, the mental health of children and young people with SEN has

capacity to offer early intervention mental health support, including to schools.

been mentioned in the Government’s

These recent developments provide

response to its SEN Green Paper. Here,

encouragement that things may be

the Government says that it aims to

beginning to change. However, although

fund different organisations to support

the knowledge base of interventions that

children and young people who have

are effective for children with complex

SEN with their mental health needs,

needs is evolving slowly, it is still the case

including activities such as:

that the mental health needs of these

• developing approaches to early

children and young people go largely

intervention in mental health

unnoticed. As our health and education

support for children and

services evolve to meet mental health

young people

needs in the general population, it is

• the extension of the Improving

important that equal consideration

Access to Psychological

is given to those children and young

Therapies Programme to

people who may have a mental health

children and young people

concern and complex SEN.

References ƒƒ Bernard, S., Kannabiran, M., and Philips, N. (2010) Assessment, in Raghavan, R., Bernard, S., and McCarthy, M. (Ed's) Mental health needs of children and young people with learning disabilities, Brighton, Pavilion. ƒƒ Bradley, E. A., Summers, J. A., Wood, H. L. and Bryson, S. E. (2004) Comparing rates of psychiatric and behaviour disorders in adolescents with young adults with severe intellectual disability with and without autism, Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 34 (2), pp. 151–161. ƒƒ Cooper, E. (2008) Assessing contentment and distress. Learning Disability Practice, 12 (1), pp. 14-17. ƒƒ Emerson, E., and Hatton, C. (2007) The Mental Health of Children and Adolescents with Learning Disabilities in Britain. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 191, pp. 493-499. ƒƒ Fergusson, A., Howley, M., and Rose, R. (2008). Responding to the Mental Health Needs of Young People with Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities and Autistic Spectrum Disorders: Issues & Challenges. Mental Health and Learning Disabilities Research and Practice, 5, pp. 240251. ƒƒ Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities (FPLD) (2006). This is what we want. The Mental Health Foundation, London. ƒƒ National Autistic Society (NAS) (2010). You Need to Know Report. Available from ƒƒ The Nation Association of Independent Schools and Non-maintained Special Schools (NASS) (2007), Making Sense of Mental Health. Available from ƒƒ Pettit, B. (2003) Effective joint working between Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and schools. Department for Education and Skills. Nottingham. Mental Health Foundation. ƒƒ Rose, R., Howley, M., Ferguson, A. and Jament, J. (2009). Mental Health and Special Educational Needs - exploring a complex relationship. British Journal of Special Education, 36 (1). Pp. 3-8. ƒƒ Wolff, S., The history of autism. European Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (2004) 13, 201-208. ƒƒ Zimmerman, A. (Ed.), Autism: Current Theories and Evidence (2008) New Jersey: Humana Press.

Further information

Rachel Allan is the SEN and Mental Health Resource Developer working as part of a knowledge transfer partnership between the National Association of Independent and Non-maintained Special Schools (NASS) and The University of Northampton. This project has developed an e-learning resource for school staff about how to identify, record and respond to the mental health needs of pupils with complex SEN in their care:





Unlocking lives Janet Trebilcock looks at how a multi-disciplinary approach in a residential school is helping those with PMLD achieve their potential





total communication environment and

people with profound

the embedding of vital approaches,

and multiple learning

such as intensive interaction and

disabilities (PMLD) are

sensory integration.

Sarah was often uncomfortable or in pain, which could cause her a great deal of distress

amongst the most vulnerable people

To illustrate what such an approach

in our society. The challenges they

might involve, I will outline the cases

face, in terms of engaging with their

of three young people with PMLD who

environment, relating to those around

are residents at the specialist school

Sarah to focus on things around her.

them and fulfilling their potential, can

for PMLD at which I work. It is often

Her communication skills were at a

be so severe that they sometimes seem

thought that those with PMLD make little

low level – around P2(i) – which meant

almost insurmountable.

progress throughout their education,

that though it was sometimes possible

It is remarkable, though, just how

and even if they do make progress,

to read Sarah’s body language to

much can be achieved by many of these

it is notoriously difficult to evidence.

understand her needs and wishes, she

children and young people if they are

However, we are often delighted to

wasn’t able to communicate actively or

given the right support. For those of

record real steps forward that individuals

in an organised way.

us who work in PMLD, excellence in

have been able to make.

practice is a must, and yet is often

In each of the three cases below,

elusive. It is clear that children with

progress in achievement and quality

PMLD should receive the very best care,

of life has required intensive input from

education, nursing and therapy that we

many professionals. The absence of,

can provide. However, by definition, the

or reductions in, any of these specialist

needs of these children are complex,

approaches would have hindered or

requiring the greatest perseverance from

even prevented progress. The outcomes

all involved to achieve a coordinated and

for these children speak for themselves.

sustained approach that will enable the fulfilment of potential and ensure the

Sarah’s story

highest quality of life.

Sarah has very complex health

Achieving this kind of approach is a

needs, arising from her quadriplegic

particular challenge in the community,

cerebral palsy. These include, epilepsy,

where resources can be scarce and

gastrostomy feeding (nil-by-mouth),

attention is often diverted to those with

being prone to serious chest infections,

less complex disabilities. Residential

having dislocated hips and experiencing

schools, however, have specialist

painful extensor spasms.

therapists, nurses and teachers on

Despite having a loving and caring

site, making communication between

family, Sarah found life very difficult

professionals and carers easier, and

before she transferred to a residential

allowing for intensive input where

placement. She was often uncomfortable

necessary. Specialist centres for

or in pain, especially when her extensor

PMLD can also ensure the consistent

spasms were uncontrollable, which

implementation of an appropriately

could cause her a great deal of distress.

individualised curriculum, a 24-hour

Consequently, it would be hard for


With extensive support from the multidisciplinary team, Sarah's life has been transformed.


It took several years of the multidisciplinary team working with Sarah to see any change. Care and education staff were able to support Sarah to be engaged in social and educational activities, but only when she wasn’t

Moses is unrecognisable as the boy who first arrived with so many challenging issues


unit, with just three others, where there is a “safe space” room (set up in conjunction with the local DOL team). The educational setting has a lowstimulation “white room”, a

overwhelmed by her physical needs.

multi-sensory room and an arts

Crucially, the nursing team were

studio, providing different levels

proactive in implementing effective

Moses’ story

of appropriate stimulation. He has

medical regimes for feeding, control

Moses is a young man who is full of

an individualised timetable with

of chest infections and muscle tone,

character and fun, and also has many

intensive staff support throughout

and management of pain. In addition,

challenging behaviours. He has severe

the 24-hour curriculum

physiotherapy and occupational

physical and learning difficulties. When

• an occupational therapist

therapy staff worked to achieve better

he began a 52-week placement at the

(OT) specialising in sensory

posture and the right wheelchair for

school, at the age of 15, we could see

integration was brought

Sarah, so that her spasms and pain

his potential but he would frequently

in to advise on a “sensory

were reduced.

become so emotionally agitated that

diet” to engage Moses in

These measures transformed Sarah’s

he would lose control and become very

constructive ways. This has

experience of life, so that instead of being

difficult to support. This loss of control

been implemented by all

overwhelmed by physical discomfort,

was clearly as distressing for him as it

staff, particularly the OT and

she was now able to engage more fully

was for the staff supporting him, and was

with people and events around her,

making it impossible for him to access

benefit from the educational curriculum,

any learning or build relationships.

residential teams • a consultant psychiatrist became involved to advise on medication

and learn communication strategies with

A whole-school approach was clearly

the help of the speech and language

needed. Some of the main elements

agitation and aggression without

therapy (SaLT) team.

involved in this were:

affecting his levels of engagement

The implementation of intensive

• the school’s assistant

to reduce Moses’ anxiety,

• the physiotherapy team provided

interaction and the total communication

psychologist, with input from

frequent hydrotherapy and other

environment by staff across the campus

a local consultant clinical

physical sessions, not only

enabled Sarah to become an active

psychologist, devoted many

to meet his orthopaedic and

participant in daily life and to express

hours to observing, analysing

physical needs, but also to make

her own opinions. She has learnt to

and setting up recording

constructive use of his extra

use eye-pointing to make choices from

systems for Moses’ behaviour

objects, pictures in her communication

patterns, looking for triggers and

book or symbols on an E-tran frame (a low-tech communication aid). She is

ways to help • a behaviour support plan was

physical energy • the SaLT team provided input and training in intensive interaction to maximise Moses’ enjoyment

becoming proficient at using eye contact

put in place, with collaboration

of relationships and develop his

to say “yes” and averting her eyes to say

from residential, education and

interpersonal skills.

“no”, and at using a simple voice output

therapy staff, to be implemented


communication aid (VOCA) to give a

throughout the campus

unrecognisable as the boy who first

greeting or join in an activity. She now

• intensive staff training





arrived with so many challenging

makes full use of varied tone in her own

programmes were initiated,

issues. He is learning how to manage

vocalisations to have a say and make her

focussing on challenging

his own behaviour, and is usually calm

needs known. She has even been using

behaviour, physical intervention

and controlled and able to engage

an eye-gaze computer to access simple

and breakaway techniques,

inquisitively with learning, relationships

computer programmes independently.

and deprivation of liberty (DOL)

and leisure. He is a joy to take out on

As she moves on to an adult placement,

legislation. All staff teams were

trips – something that previously seemed

Sarah’s communication skills are now

involved in careful planning of

unthinkable – even participating in some

rated at P3 (ii), which represents an

Moses’ environment. He has

of the scarier rides at theme parks and

astonishing rate of progress.

been placed in a quiet residential




enjoying a zip wire experience on an

During her five-years in residential

adventure holiday. Moses derives great

placement so far, Georgie has received

pleasure from life and people and as he

intensive input from the whole multi-

approaches adult life, he now has a real

disciplinary team at the school:

opportunity to achieve his full potential.

• the care team has provided one to one attention to all her

Georgie’s story Georgie is a 17-year-old with cerebral

For the first time in her life, Georgie is able to tell us independently how she is feeling

personal and pastoral needs • the education team has given

palsy, which affects her so severely

her an individualised curriculum

pamper sessions – she is also able to

that she finds almost any independent

specifically tailored to her needs

make choices throughout the day, make

movement impossible. She is completely

and abilities

her voice heard and have a say in her

dependent on others for her health,

• the nursing team has helped

own life.

mobility, education and care. Her health

to manage Georgie’s complex

issues dominate her life, as she is prone

health needs, reduce pain levels

Making a difference

to chest infections, needs constant

and keep her free of infections

As the stories above illustrate, a

oxygen, and is frequently in pain due

• the physiotherapy team has

structured and consistent multi-

to severe spasms. She is registered

worked to maintain joint

disciplinary approach can make a

cortically blind and her most reliable

movement, actively develop trunk

huge difference to the long-term life

means of communication is to give an

and head control and functional

opportunities of those with PMLD. For

eye blink to say “yes” in answer to a

movement, and ensure twice-

me, it is inspiring and motivating to know

simple question.

daily chest physiotherapy

that it is possible to have a significant

• the OT team has worked to

impact on the lives of children with even

provide comfortable seating and

the most profound and complex needs.

mobility, and to help Georgie gain

There is always more to learn and it

access to ICT equipment

can be very challenging work, but I feel

• the SaLT team has helped Georgie

privileged to be part of a team that gives

develop her communication

children with PMLD the intensive input

abilities through the total

that they need to fulfil their potential.

communication environment and intensive interaction. Most excitingly, Georgie has been working hard to learn how to use an eyegaze computer with voice output – which allows her to access simple computer programmes, including vocabulary for communication – by just looking at the screen. Previous attempts to train Georgie’s vision for communication had proved futile, and it wasn’t until the eyegaze system was able to pick up where she was looking that we found out that she had functional vision. For the first time in her life, Georgie is able to tell us independently how she is feeling and what she would like to do.

Further information

Janet Trebilcock is a speech and language therapist and Head of Therapies at Action for Children Penhurst School, Chipping Norton: uk/our-services/our-schools/ penhurst-school

Georgie is not only able to enjoy By developing her communication abilities, Georgie can now have greater control over her life.


many of the things that an ablebodied teenager would enjoy – going shopping, listening to music, having


63 Promotional feature

Aspire, enable, achieve Stephanie Harris joined Treloar School in Alton, Hampshire, at the age of 11. A PMLD student, she was a timid young girl who had no independent mobility and most thought was non-verbal. Much of that has changed through her eight years at Treloar’s. Indeed, this year, Stephanie spent ten days in Israel, without her family or regular carers, travelling with a group of disabled young people. She was ready to take this opportunity, to which many young people aspire at her age, and experience a country which means so much to her family.

Central to this ethos is the recognition that only by enabling students to participate, often starting at the simplest level, can we unlock the potential that is within and challenge the boundaries of expectation.

In the education of students with PMLD, there is a need to recognise that a range of skills and expertise are required to release potential and enable success. At Treloar’s, this has been our approach for some time, with multi-disciplinary teams dedicated to working around each of our students. These teams are based on-site, available on-call and tasked to coordinate and support in every aspect of students’ education, care, social and independence skills. This coordinated approach is aimed at each student recognising their abilities, proving to themselves and others what they are capable of doing, and hence boosting their self-esteem and giving birth to aspirations.

Stephanie went on to college this summer a confident, verbal and more independent young adult who can be rightly proud of her achievements to date.

For Stephanie, examples of this included the 24-hour curriculum that ensured her posture and physical wellbeing were managed, so enabling her to access education and achieve ASDAN’s personal progress accreditation. Her impressive success in independence and communication skills started with making choices about her day, finding her voice and so taking control over the direction of her care. Alongside this was the work done on enabling her independent mobility, and her father will proudly show you the photo of her winning her first ever independent mobility sports day race.

For more information about Treloar’s, please visit:



PMLD Promotional feature

Hollybank Trust Our Vision: “To be an outstanding provider of quality of life, for life, for children and adults with multiple and profound disabilities.” We promote independence in all aspects of living – to age 25 and beyond. Everybody is encouraged to make their own choices.

Fire Poet awakens senses of children at specialist school A pioneering therapy has been introduced into a school for children with profound and multiple learning difficulties. The Fire Poet, otherwise known as Philip Wells, has been performing unique poetry as a way of helping children who cannot speak and have complex health needs to communicate. Using different tones of voice, improvised words, nonsensical language, music and rhythm, Philip is delivering his poetry therapy to learners at The School for Profound Education based at The Children’s Trust in Tadworth, Surrey. Music Therapist at the school, Claire Wood, said the introduction of poetry therapy has given them all something new to work with. “Music therapy and poetry complement each other really well”, she said. “The energy with which he performs is wonderful, and what I find so interesting is how both staff and the learners become immersed; it’s exciting.” SENISSUE61



Feelings into words Trisha Waters looks at how therapeutic storywriting can help troubled children deal with their emotions




pupil and teacher, to support pupils

groups encourage pupils

with BESD. Children’s intuitive ability to

with behavioural, emotional

describe their inner worlds through story

and social difficulties (BESD)

metaphor can be quite remarkable; evil

to process difficult feelings through

giants, abandoned animals and haunted

storywriting. Research shows that the

towers stand in for their personal fears

intervention develops emotional literacy

and anxieties.

and also improves writing skills.

Nine-year-old Liam used animal

Evil giants, abandoned animals and haunted towers stand in for their personal fears and anxieties

Ten-year-old Nina was a withdrawn

stories to write about his feelings of

anxious child who had difficulty focusing

persecution. Liam was described by

killed by soldiers if he tries to find a

on classroom tasks. She summed up

his SENCO as having “a short fuse”

bigger, more comfortable cave. Liam’s

what therapeutic storywriting is about

and when he lost his temper he could

story continues: “Three days later Dino

when she described her group session

kick out, throw furniture or refuse to

saw no soldiers anywhere. So he flew

as a place where “you can imagine

move. He had been excluded several

out slowly. All of a sudden someone

your own characters and put yourself

times for aggressive behaviour and the

shouted, ‘Kill the dragon!’ and a zillion

in their shoes. You think about them

SENCO explained that while the other

arrows came from the left and a zillion

and not yourself.” Emotionally anxious

children felt bullied by Liam, he actually

from the right. It was absolute chaos.

children like Nina can easily become

considered himself to be the victim

Luckily, Dino managed to fly away. He

uncomfortable with a direct discussion

and would never take responsibility for

found himself a beautiful cave and he

of their difficulties. By encouraging the

his actions.

lived happily ever after.”

projection of pertinent issues onto story

Almost all of Liam’s stories written

While we usually think of dragons as

characters, pupils are less likely to feel

in the group had a victim/bully theme.

angry, scary creatures, in Liam’s story

emotionally overwhelmed.

One story is about Dino, a fifty-year-

Dino is clearly the victim. When talking

Therapeutic storywriting uses

old dragon who lives in a cave that is

about his story to the group, Liam said

metaphor in stories, written by both

too small and is terrified that he will be

that fifty-years in dragon time meant



Dino was the same age as himself. He also mentioned that while Dino managed to find a better cave, “he didn’t know he could fly until he tried”. While the educational professionals running therapeutic storywriting groups

“It’s helped me to talk and listen to other people. I’ve got a lot more friends now”

Emotional containment Therapeutic storywriting draws on Bion’s idea that anxiety needs to be sufficiently contained in order for thinking to take place. Emotional containment is provided by the teacher in a range

are encouraged to bring psychological

of ways, including the use of active

mindedness to their work with

listening skills, attention to beginnings

emotionally troubled children, they are

everyone in the group to share their story

and endings, continuity and consistency

not expected to become therapists. The

and the teacher uses active listening

of sessions, as well as ensuring that

training stresses that at no time should

skills to reflect on the content of these

the group is a place of safety for all

the teacher make a direct interpretation

stories. Children are also encouraged

the pupils. The stories themselves also

of what the stories might mean in

to share ideas for each other’s stories.

provide a container for difficult feelings

relation to the child’s actual life, but

While this sharing is in process, the

which might otherwise be acted out.

instead confine comments to the story

children are encouraged to illustrate

Eleven-year-old Mike thought that his

characters and plot. For instance, in

their stories. This both deepens the story

stories had helped him manage his

Liam’s story the teacher might comment

meaning and helps those children who

angry feelings better: “It’s really helped

on how scared Dino must have felt

find it difficult to sit still when listening.

because I have an anger problem and

with all those arrows coming towards

The opportunity to discuss stories helps

I can make a story around how I feel.

him but would not mention the actual

pupils develop their peer relationships.

I can write my own story – it’s just me

things in Liam’s life that s/he might

Eleven-year-old Laura felt the group

and the paper.”

know were making him feel persecuted.

had helped with her friendships: “I’m

This ensures that confidentiality

normally bossy. It’s helped me to talk

Research and dissemination

issues are minimised and that the

and listen to other people. I’ve got a lot

Research commissioned by the South-

approach is appropriate to use in an

more friends now”, she said.

East Region SEN Partnership shows that

educational setting.

therapeutic storywriting groups help

The teacher’s story

pupils process difficult feelings, develop

How the groups work

A key element of the therapeutic

social skills and improve their writing.

Therapeutic storywriting groups normally

storywriting model is the teacher’s story.

Such groups have been used in over 500

consist of six pupils identified by the

The teacher chooses the theme of his/

schools and the model has recently been

school as having BESD. The model is

her story to reflect emotional issues

included in the YoungMinds in Schools

most suitable for pupils at KS2 and early

present in the group and incorporates

project funded by the Department for

KS3. A course of sessions usually runs

suggestions from the group. Laura, who


over about ten weeks and each session

had difficulty settling down to writing

lasts for about an hour.

in class, said that having the teacher

There’s an initial mindfulness exercise

also write made her feel a lot more

to settle the pupils before beginning

comfortable because “it doesn’t make

writing. Everyone then has a turn to say

you feel like some big human camera

how they are feeling and these words are

is watching us.”

written down and placed on a “feelings

Writing a story in this way can be a

ladder”. In this way, the teacher provides

new experience for teachers and while

the children with an extended emotional

some can initially feel a bit anxious, they

vocabulary which they can internalise

usually quickly become engrossed in

and begin to use to think about their

their storywriting. One teacher attending

own feelings.

the training was surprised at how much

Following the relaxation and sharing

the pupils had empathised with the

of feelings, there is time to brainstorm

feelings of the characters in her story,

ideas around the new story and then

saying that “they love it – that it’s for

everyone, including the teacher, writes

them and that it’s got their ideas in it. It

their own story. Time is allowed for

makes it something special”.

Further information

Dr Trisha Waters is the founding director of the Centre for Therapeutic Storywriting and author of Therapeutic Storywriting. She is the consultant trainer for the DfE funded YoungMinds in Schools project. Note: all pupil names have been changed to protect confidentiality.




BEHAVIOUR Promotional feature

Free webinar: non-drug treatment solutions for developmental disorders Dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD, autism: this online event outlines successful, natural and sciencebased treatment approaches, with contributing experts in psychiatry, neurology and nutrition. 19 November 2012 - 12:00pm - 1:30pm Developmental delay: causes and treatments: Dr Robin Pauc Dr Pauc believes that “glitches” in the mechanism controlling foetal and post-natal brain development are responsible for many behavioural and learning difficulties and that conditions such as dyslexia, dyspraxia and ADD should be considered “developmental delay”. His treatment protocol is holistic, with dietary and supplementation recommendations, alongside physical exercises and computer-generated treatment programmes designed to stimulate specific areas/neuron fields of the brain. Dr Robin Pauc has been in clinical practice for over 30 years and is an expert in child neurology. A Diplomate of the American Chiropractic Neurology Board and past Assistant Professor of Clinical Neurology, his books include: Is That My Child?, The Brain Food Plan, Could It Be You?, Mindful Parenting and Dyslexia Really? The potential role of fatty acids in neurodevelopmental disorders: Professor Basant K. Puri Professor Puri will describe the structural and functional roles of fatty acids in the brain and

the evidence for an association between fatty acids and neurodevelopmental disorders. Professor Puri is a scientist and clinician. The author of over 180 papers and 36 books, he has carried out groundbreaking research into the clinical use of fatty acids to treat disorders such as depression, CFS, ADHD and Huntington’s chorea. Managing developmental disorders through nutrition: Dr Nina Bailey Dr Bailey will discuss how foods may affect symptoms, “trigger” foods and ingredients suspected of contributing to symptoms, and how specific nutrients can help towards improvements in concentration, learning and behaviour. She will also discuss the role of supplementation with specific dietary fatty acids as add-on treatments. Dr Bailey is a nutrition scientist specialising in dietary health and nutritional intervention in disease, with particular emphasis on the role of essential fatty acids. For more information, visit: or call 01223 421434.

Promotional feature

BESD in post-16 mainstream education You wouldn’t send someone into a risky environment without proper health and safety training would you? Yet every day we ask staff in FE to work with students who have a variety of behaviour disorders without the proper preparation. It’s barmy!

Recent DfE statistics show that up to 850 pupils in UK schools are excluded for behavioural issues each day. Until now, many of these learners had the option to leave education and find employment. However, with the requirement to continue to college, training or apprenticeships until the age of 17/18, these students arriving at post-16 education find that they are largely expected to cope alone.

FE classrooms can be risky environments. Learners moving “up” at age 16 are not required to disclose any SEN (although the majority usually do). However, if a learner has a BESD, it is highly probable that they will conceal their chequered educational past, in the belief that revealing this could harm their educational prospects.

That’s where we come in. Our programmes provide teachers and LSAs with what’s needed to identify, skill up and implement reasonable adjustments that prevent disruptive behaviour in the classroom caused by ADHD, ODD and other BESD. They can then use the energies and interests of these hard-to-reach young people to engage and enthuse. Every young person deserves their chance of a good education and we’re all in it together.

Specialist ADHD researcher Russell Barkley states that: Sources:

• 35 per of ADD/ADHD teenagers get suspended from school • 35 per cent of ADD/ADHD teenagers drop out of school. Students in FE who received support from School Action Plus or intensive SEN intervention (or those who have been through the PRU system) in their previous school careers, continue to need assistance throughout their academic life. For these teenagers, and their teachers, college is a hazardous world. SENISSUE61

1. Child Development Guide 2. DFE 2010/2011 Statistics on Exclusions

Can Do Behaviour Resources – Advice – Tips – Strategies Providers of Professional Training in Education Tel. Hilary Nunns on: 01737 321204






school complaints

How to complain about schools Martha Evans looks at how parents can seek redress if they are unhappy about issues at school


any children with SEN

complaints procedure. By law, schools

The governing body is likely to pass

will have their needs

must have a procedure for parents to

your complaint to a panel of governors.

met by schools and

complain (Section 29 of the Education

They may invite you to a meeting to put

local authorities without

Act, 2002).

your case in more detail. They should follow the rules of natural justice. These

the need to make a formal complaint. very important that parents are able

Complaining to the governing body

to use informal and formal complaints

Every school has a governing body. In

interest in the outcome or any

procedures to remedy the situation as

the case of an academy, this is known

involvement in an earlier stage of

soon as possible.

as the academy trust. School complaint

If things do go wrong, though, it is

say that: • no member should have a vested

the procedure

There are different avenues you can

procedures usually end with complaining

• each side should be given the

take when making a complaint; it very

to the governing body of the school. A

opportunity to state their case

much depends on what your complaint

complaint to the governing body should

without unreasonable interruption

is about. It can be confusing, so this

be addressed to the chair of governors

article outlines the process of making

(head of academy trust). If the school

complaints about a school and looks at

is a community or voluntary controlled

some of the most common complaints pathways and procedures. Your local parent partnership service (PPS) will be able to support and advise you through making a complaint. There is a PPS in every local authority and they provide confidential and impartial

• written material must have been seen by all parties • if new issues arise, parties should be given the opportunity to

If you cannot resolve a problem informally, ask for a copy of the school’s complaints procedure

information, advice and support to

consider and comment on them. If the governing body does not give you a satisfactory response, you then have a number of options depending on the type of complaint you have. These are detailed below. It is important for all of the routes below that you have followed

parents and carers of children and young

school, (local authority maintained, run

the school’s and, if applicable, the local

people with SEN.

by the council) you could also send a

authority’s complaints procedures first

copy of your letter to the director in

or that you are able to justify why you

Speak to the school

charge of local education services, often

have not.

The first thing to do if you are unhappy

called children’s services.

with something at school is to speak

Try to include precise details of dates,

to your child’s class teacher and/or the

times, meetings and decisions that may

complaints to school governors, visit:

school SENCO. There is a SENCO in

help the governing body understand

every school and they are responsible

the substance of your complaint.


for coordinating provision for children

Explain what harm you or your child

with SEN. If you are still unhappy, you

has suffered as a result of the school’s

should talk to the headteacher.

action or inaction. Say what you would

Complaining to the local authority

like the governing body to do to put

Local authorities (LAs) no longer have a

things right.

role in general complaints about a school,

If you cannot resolve a problem informally, ask for a copy of the school’s


For more information about

school complaints


although they do still hear curriculum

legal right to complain to Ofsted on the

or headteacher, you can complain to the

complaints. If you are complaining about

work of maintained schools, academies,

Teaching Agency.

LA services (including complaints about

city technology colleges, maintained

assessment) you should do so to the

nursery schools and non-maintained


most senior education officer. You must

special schools.

complain to the LA before taking the complaint further.

Ofsted could investigate complaints about: • quality of education and

Complaining to the Information Commissioner You can complain to the Information Commissioner if you have problems accessing school records, minutes of governors meetings, school policies or

standards achieved • inadequate provision for pupils with SEN • neglect of pupils’ personal development and wellbeing • the quality of leadership and

Complaining to the Secretary of State for Education The Department for Education (DfE) will look at a complaint about a maintained school, academy or free school from anyone who is unhappy with the way in which a school is acting. For the Secretary of State to intervene in a school following a complaint,

other public documents, or if you believe

management. For example,

he needs to be sure either that the

your child’s school records have been

whether the school spends its

school has acted or is proposing to

disclosed unlawfully, are incorrect or

money well.

act unreasonably in the exercise or

out of date.

It is important to remember that you can

performance of its functions under

You should first exhaust the school

only make complaints to Ofsted about

certain legislation, or that the school

or LA complaints procedure. There are

issues that affect the whole school and

has failed to discharge a duty at all under

different timescales for schools to reply

not about an individual child.

certain legislation.

to your requests:

Ofsted can call an immediate

• a copy of a child’s educational

inspection of a school at short notice,

For guidance on making a

record must be supplied within

if it feels your complaint is very serious.

complaint to the Secretary

15 school days. (The Education

It can also call meetings with the school

of State and a complaints

[Pupil Information] [England]

and the local authority.

form, go to:

Regulations, 2005 [SI 1437]) • other personal information must

You can complain to Ofsted

be supplied within 40 days of

online at:

your written request. (Section 7 of



Appeal to the SEND Tribunal You can appeal to the SEND Tribunal

the Data Protection Act, 1998)

Complaining to the Teaching Agency

about decisions that the local authority

SEN Policy, school accessibility plan or governing body minutes

If you have an allegation of serious

disability discrimination by schools and

must be provided within 20

misconduct against an individual teacher

local authorities.

• documents such as the school

has made about your child, and

working days (excluding school


holidays) of your written request under the Freedom of Information Act, 2000. Freedom of Information and data protection complaints forms can be found at:

Complaining to Ofsted Ofsted is the body which inspects a range of public services including schools. Schools are inspected at least once every three years. Parents have a

Where school staff can address issues raised, formal complaints can be avoided.



school complaints

The kind of decisions you can appeal

decides to assess your child, which is a

independent (private) school or city

against include refusal to carry out a

matter for the SEND Tribunal. However

technology college.

statutory assessment, refusal to make

you can complain about any delay in

If you are refused the school place

a statement and parts 2, 3 and/or 4 of

assessment, failure to carry out the

you asked for and you want to pursue

a statement.

provision set out in the statement or

the matter, the first thing you need to do

In regards to schools, you can make

to carry out an annual review. The

is to make an appeal to an independent

a claim of disability discrimination under

Ombudsman can look at the school’s

appeal panel. The admissions authority

the Equality Act 2010 if your child is

role in this. It may also be able to look

should tell you how to do this.

disabled within the meaning of that

at what the school has done in response

If your child has a statement of SEN,

Act – not all children with SEN are

to your child’s SEN at school action

you can appeal to the SEND Tribunal.

disabled – and you feel they have been

plus, as long as you have previously

The LGO could consider a complaint

discriminated against.

complained to the local authority.

about any delay by a council in arranging an offer of a place at a school once the

You can find more about

School admissions

appealing to the SEND Tribunal

The Ombudsman is not another level of


appeal and cannot question decisions

Permanent exclusion from a school


if they were taken properly and fairly

The LGO cannot look at any aspect of

by the admissions authority or the

an exclusion prior to an appeal. When

Complain to the Local Government Ombudsman

appeal panel.

a decision has been reached, you can

You can complain if you think that a

complain to the Ombudsman about the

The Local Government Ombudsman

place at a school was refused because

way in which the independent review

(LGO) investigates complaints of

of some unfairness or mistake by the

panel has dealt with your case.

injustice arising from maladministration

admissions authority, or if your appeal

Once a child has been permanently

by local authorities. They are able to

was handled incorrectly, or you have

excluded, the council has a duty to

consider the role of the school as

asked for an appeal and the admissions

provide alternative education, and the

part of a wider complaint against the

authority has not arranged an appeal

LGO can look into how the council has

local authority. They currently consider

hearing for you within a reasonable time.

carried out this duty.

complaints about:

final statement has been issued.

You cannot complain to the LGO if the complaint is about an

For information on complaining

Special educational needs

academy (unless that academy has

to the Local Government

You cannot complain to the Ombudsman

transferred from a maintained school

Ombudsman, visit:

about whether or not a local authority

during the admissions process),

Further information

Martha Evans is Information and Communications Officer at the National Parent Partnership Network, which is based at the Council for Disabled Children. If you need confidential advice and support, you should speak to your local parent partnership service, whose details can be found at: Local parent partnership services can support families through the complaints process.




Contribute to SEN Magazine

Please email your comments, press releases and article ideas to: Peter: Please note that we cannot guarantee to include submissions in the magazine.


Subscribe to SEN Magazine

Get every issue of the UK’s leading special educational needs magazine delivered direct to your home or work place. See inside the back cover or contact: Anita or Amanda: 01200 409 800


Advertise in SEN Magazine

Want to reach budget holders and decision makers in all the UK’s special schools and large numbers of mainstream schools? Want to target SEN professionals, heads, teachers, SENCOs, parents and carers? For the best advertising packages contact: Denise: 01200 409 808 ______________________________________

Free SEN Newsletter

The SEN Newsletter is sent out via email every month. It

In the next issue of SEN Magazine: • hearing impairment • CReSTeD/dyslexia • autism • post-16 options • assistive technology • outdoor activities • Down syndrome • wheelchairs/mobility • SEN provision overseas • behaviour • using iPads/tablets in schools

provides a round up of current SEN news, features and listings for CPD, training and events. To sign up visit: and click on "newsletter" or email:

Plus news, reviews, CPD and events listings and much more


SEN Magazine: keeping you informed and up to date SEN Magazine Ltd. Chapel House,

Follow us on

Join us on

5 Shawbridge Street, Clitheroe, BB7 1LY T: 01200 409800 F: 01200 409809 W: E: senmagazine SENISSUE61


book reviews

Book reviews by Mary Mountstephen

Multi-Sensory Activities for Improving Fine Motor Skills: High Five Jive

Not Just Talking: Identifying nonverbal communication difficulties: A life-changing approach

Susan O’Connor

Sioban Boyce

Hinton House Publishers with Taskmaster 164 pages, paperback £29.99 (including CD-ROM) ISBN: 978-1-906531-54-6

Speechmark Publishers Spiral bound, 178 pages £38.99 ISBN: 978-0-863388-849-6

This book has been devised to improve dexterity, fine hand-eye coordination, visual perception and sequencing skills. Its author is a learning support coordinator with over thirty years of experience in a number of settings. She has also produced several maths games for children and this book helps children in acquiring early maths language relating to patterns, shapes and direction through physical activities. This is a photocopiable resource, with 30 interactive multi-sensory activities forming a structured programme which is also flexible and adaptable. These activities are aimed initially at preschool children and then older children, as appropriate. The movements seek to improve flexibility, handwriting, language, maths, memory and concentration and they are also useful as a base for learning keyboard skills. The jive activities encourage the children to actively improve hand eye coordination through exercises using either the right or left hand or both hands together. Activity sheets can be personalised for a child’s specific needs. The book includes useful information for parents’ record cards and score sheets and a CD-ROM of the activity forms. It is recommended as suitable for all children in primary schools, for children with special needs and in a variety of settings. This is a fun resource which would appeal to many teachers, support assistants and parents. The activities are mostly desk-top based, so are easy to manage in a group setting.

Sioban Boyce is a speech and language therapist who worked in the NHS for more than 18 years. Recently she has worked as an independent specialist in the development of non-verbal communication in children. In this book, she details an innovative approach to dealing with communication difficulties in children who have learned to talk, but who are unable to communicate effectively. Like many Speechmark publications, this is a spiral bound book with a built in flap to help you keep your place. It is divided into a number of chapters which cover the basics of non-verbal communication, causes of problems, communication development from toddler-age to adulthood, and assessment and intervention. Boyce also includes a section on training opportunities for those working with children of different ages and she makes reference to other resources such as the Not Just Talking Resource Pack and the Assessment Pack. Boyce stresses that her approach to communication differs from the traditional speech and language approach in that she has successfully trained support workers, teachers and social workers to deliver her programme. The assessment process is clearly set out and assessments are available for a range of ages from pre-talking babies and toddlers to teenagers. Boyce makes some very interesting observations about the different ways in which girls and boys develop language skills and this is one of many engaging aspects of this useful and practical resource.


book reviews

Understanding & Managing Dyslexia for Dummies Tracey Wood and Katrina Cochrane John Wiley and Sons Publishers Paperback, 370 pages £15.99 ISBN: 978-0-470-74132-0

In this book, the authors cover the basics of dyslexia, getting a diagnosis, exploring intervention options and the longerterm implications of the condition. Tracey Wood has run her own reading clinics and written several related books. Katrina Cochrane, is Principal of the Dyslexia Institute Egham Centre. The book is divided into five parts and is visually attractive, with the use of cartoons, text boxes and easily identifiable action points and tips. Each chapter opens with a brief overview of the content and is broken down into bite-sized chunks for the reader. It is packed with information and would appeal to many anxious parents. The authors include information about many specific programmes, though I was a little disappointed to see that there was little or no supporting research to guide parents when faced with programme options, all of which have a cost implication. At the end of the book, the authors have included two appendices. In the first, they provide an informal assessment of phonetic awareness and phonic skills, which they claim is “typical” of what SENCOs use in school to pinpoint a child’s phonic skills. This is an interesting concept, and I am sure that some parents will find it useful, but I would be cautious in recommending its use. The second appendix is given over to a list of resources and organisations. Though I have some reservations, this book is a useful introduction for parents.

Breathe, Stretch, Write: Learning to Write with Everything You’ve Got Sheree Fitch Pembroke Publishers Ltd Paperback, 178 pages £19.99 ISBN: 978-1-55138-256-2

This is a great book for teachers who believe that movement and learning go together. The author, who has studied yoga and core fitness programmes, takes the reader on an enjoyable journey using exercises designed to spark imagination and enhance creativity. The book covers a wide range of exercises which can be undertaken standing, sitting, reclining or moving around, or as group activities. The structure of the book enables the reader to dip in and out at random, or to use the book as the basis for a creative writing club programme. Each exercise follows a common format, where the instruction simply involves focused breathing, followed by an exercise, followed by a writing activity. The activities are illustrated with basic line drawings and examples of creative writing. I found some of the examples provided to be very funny and others very moving. Fitch covers 56 different activities in this book and they would appeal to a teachers working in a wide range of school situations, as they can easily be adapted to suit the needs of particular pupils or groups of pupils. The concept of combining creative writing with a physical approach is an interesting one and I am sure that these activities, honed over many years of running workshops, will promote a healthy and active approach to classroom performance.





Supply teachers in demand Temporary staff expect pay rises Fall in joblessness for supply teachers Schools are cutting back on hiring new permanent staff and are instead taking on more supply teachers, according to a new survey. Research by the umbrella employment provider giant group suggests that long-term joblessness for supply teachers is falling, as schools’ concerns over budgets lead them to seek temporary solutions to staffing issues. “Schools are having to keep a very close eye on their budgets, which means permanent headcount is under the microscope”, says giant’s Managing Director Matthew Brown. “Even those schools that have not implemented formal freezes are making permanent hires only as a last resort because their budgets are being squeezed.” Roughly 90 per cent of supply teachers are spending less than a month between contracts, compared to 83 per cent over the same period last year. “Supply teachers are in high demand at present, and should remain in demand as long as the Government’s austerity drive continues”, says Mr Brown.

Higher wages High demand for supply teachers from UK schools is also driving up their wage expectations. The survey of 140 supply teachers shows that 77 per cent expect their pay to increase in the next year, while just 14 per cent expect pay freezes – down from 26 per cent last year. Although many supply teachers remain confident about their job prospects for the coming year, the majority still retain the goal of securing a longer-term placement or a permanent job. Of those surveyed, 66 per cent said they would prefer a longerterm contract to higher hourly pay, up from 53 per cent last year. SENISSUE61




CPD, training and events

Keep up to date with the latest developments in special educational needs, with SEN Magazine's essential guide to the best courses, workshops, conferences and exhibitions

We take every care when compiling the information on the following pages. However, details may change, and we recommend that you contact the event organisers before you make arrangements to attend.

CPD and training Rebound Therapy Staff Training Courses The National Rebound Therapy Consultancy - with founder Eddy Anderson. The official UK body of reference and provider of nationally accredited, certificated staff training courses in Rebound Therapy.

01342 870543

Severe, Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties MEd/ Postgraduate Diploma/ Postgraduate Certificate University of Birmingham

This part-time, campus-based, blended learning programme has been developed for

a range of professionals/

BSc Speech Sciences

with children and adults

University College London

This four-year degree in speech sciences is a full-time programme which provides a direct pathway into the profession of speech and language therapy. The degree is focussed on the processes of communication, how these may be impaired, and clinical methods of remediation.

MSc in Speech and Language Sciences University College London

practitioners who work with learning difficulties in educational settings across the severe and profound range (SLD/ PMLD) such as teachers and lecturers, nurses, therapists, psychologists and support staff.

Postgraduate Certificate in Autism and Learning University of Aberdeen

The programme aims to give

This full-time, two year course is a clinical training programme as well as an academic degree. The core subject is speech and language pathology and therapy. Students consider approaches to the investigation and management of clients with communication and swallowing problems. They learn about working with clients and others professionals in health care and education.

practitioners an in depth

understanding of the condition and the working of the autistic mind. It will equip participants with a range of practical approaches and interventions that will enable children and young people on the spectrum

follow us on

to access learning, participate actively, experience success, gain independence, and fulfil their potential.

join us on



CPD and training


Working with the Autism Spectrum (Theory into Practice) Edinburgh

This undergraduate SCQF level 8 (equivalent to SHE level 2 or SVQ level 4) course is a collaboration between The National Autistic Society and Edinburgh Napier University. Comprising of six, one-day units, the course is very much practice-based. The assessment will enable candidates to reflect upon their own practice and integrate the knowledge gained to further improve the care and support they carry out. The course will be relevant to anyone working with or caring for individuals

Strategies for Successful Special Needs Support Online

Strategies for Successful Special Needs Support is an introductory online course accredited by The College of Teachers at Certificate of Educational Studies level. The course is for teachers and others working with children with special needs and includes full tutor support. The cost per candidate is only ÂŁ200.

Certificate in Understanding Autism in Schools A three-day programme leading to a Certificate in Understanding Autism (accredited at 40 credits level 4 or 5 by Canterbury Christ Church University). The course is usually taken one day per school term. Courses are purchased by local authorities who then make places available to staff working in education.

Postgraduate Certificate in Assessment for Dyslexia and Literacy Online

The aim of this online programme is to train teachers and support tutors to become informed, skilled practitioners who understand the theory and practice of teaching and/ or assessment of dyslexic learners of all ages.


Overcoming Barriers to Learning Mathematics (starting 12/11/12) Teaching Children with Specific Learning Difficulties (starting 26/11/12)

New NAS Training and Consultancy brochure

This course will help develop your strategic leadership skills and is aimed at teachers and leadership teams in schools including senior and middle managers within a school or training organisation.

The NAS can offer in-house


Level 4 CPD Certificate in Dyslexia in the Classroom

the following courses:

Leadership for Teachers and Trainers

disorder, including parents,

from education.

Worcester. Currently recruiting for


staff, social services and staff

Accredited CPD by the University of

with an autism spectrum health professionals, support

Learning Works Advanced Diplomas


Dyslexia Action's continuing professional development online course has been developed specifically for classroom teachers and teaching assistants working in the primary and secondary education fields. Many units are also suitable for those working in further education. This CPD course is primarily intended for UK based applicants. However, UK teachers working overseas in an English speaking international school may also apply.

8 Nov: London 13 Nov: Carlisle 15 Nov: Luton 19 Nov: Glasgow 20 Nov: Manchester 21 Nov: Chorley 23 Nov: Chorley 27 Nov: York 4 Dec: London

and open access training to suit your timetable and

Concept Training Ltd

learning outcomes.


Various November

Intensive Interaction: Connecting with NonVerbal Children and Adults with Autism or Profound Learning Disabilities 12 Nov: Manchester 12 Nov: Ipswich 13 Nov: Chorley 14 Nov: Brighton 15 Nov: London 22 Nov: Cardiff 22 Nov: Middlesbrough 23 Nov: Taunton

Gain a thorough understanding of how to communicate with people who do not speak or respond due to their disability or behavioural difficulties

Dyslexia Action's continuing professional development online course has been developed specifically for classroom teachers and teaching assistants working in the primary and secondary education fields. Many units are also suitable for those working in further education. This CPD course is primarily intended for UK based applicants. However, UK teachers working overseas in an English speaking international school may also apply.

Introduction to Autistic Spectrum Condition (including Asperger’s Syndrome)

Accredited at level 2 by the Open College Network, this course is for anyone working with or caring for either adults or children with autism.

Level 4 CPD Certificate in Dyslexia and Literacy in Primary School Settings Online

Various November & December

Concept Training Ltd


Various November

Play for People with ASD 20 Nov: London 26 Nov: Chorley 27 Nov: Doncaster

This workshop is for anyone who wants to help a person with ASD increase their play skills and develop playfulness. Concept Training Ltd

Various November & December

Positive Ways of Changing Behaviour 23 Nov: Birmingham 3 Dec: Chorley

Gain an understanding of behaviour and its function and learn to recognise early warning signs of negative behaviour and make positive early interventions Concept Training Ltd


Various November to January

Practical and Effective Ways of Using Multisensory Equipment 9 Nov: Ipswich 12 Nov: London 15 Nov: Leeds 16 Nov: Middlesbrough 21 Nov: Doncaster 26 Nov: Cardiff 6 Dec: Liverpool 10 Dec: Glasgow 28 Jan London 29 Jan: Birmingham

Find out everything you need to know to get the most out of a multi-sensory environment, how to use it and how to set up a new multi-sensory environment without breaking your budget. Concept Training Ltd



CPD and training November 5 November

Legal rights for parents of a child with ASD at 16, 18 and beyond Prior’s Court, Newbury, Berkshire

9 November

Autism: Improving practice throughout life - the Good Autism Practice Conference 2012 Manchester

Organised by BILD, University of Birmingham, Autism West

A two-hour talk giving an

Midlands and Autism Cymru,

overview of key topics

the Conference aims to

essential for parent/carers

promote good practice for

or professionals supporting

children and adults with autism

a young person with autism

across the lifespan. This

during the transition process,

conference is to share ideas

including changes in the rights

and evidence on what makes

for parents, Mental Capacity

for the most effective support.

Act, deputyship, deprivation

Speakers include Catherine

of liberty. Talk will be given

Maclean (CNAP Co-ordinator),

by Belinda Schwehr, expert in

Dean Beadle (a person with

care and health law.

autism), Dr Ian Ensum (Bristol

First session at 10.30am, second

Autism Spectrum Service) and

session at 1:30pm

Glenys Jones (University of

£25 professionals and parents/


carers Prior’s Court Training & Development Centre

9 November

Epilepsy Training for Healthcare Professionals


01635 247202


15 March 2013, London

Making Parenting Work for Children’s Mental Health Named Memorial Speaker: Professor Stephen Scott Guest Speaker: Professor Daniel Shaw Confirmed Presenters: Professor Michael Lamb Professor Marinus van IJzendoorn Professor Peter Fonagy Professor Judy Hutchings OBE Save the date and benefit from the unique line-up of recognised national and international experts For more information, please contact Kerry O’Shaughnessy:; 020 7403 7458

This day is aimed at healthcare

8 November

Epilepsy Training for Education and Social Care

professionals working with children and young people who want to learn more about epilepsy. It will be especially


suitable for nurses working

This one day Childhood

in schools, paediatrics,

Epilepsy course covers the

community and learning

educational, behavioural and

disability teams, practice

psychosocial issues that may

nurses, health visitors, CAMHS

accompany this condition. This

practitioners and GPs.

study day will be of particular

interest to SENCOs, teachers, classroom assistants, support workers, carers, foster carers, social workers and Connexions personal advisors.

8 November

Behaviour Management for Support Professionals London Euston

Training for LSAs and TAs. £160




CPD and training 9 November

Intensive Interaction Course presented by Dave Hewett Barnsley

This course will be of interest to staff of all disciplines who work with adults and children with learning difficulties, including social services staff, teachers and assistants, nurses, staff from voluntary organisations, therapists and indeed parents and other carers. The focus is on the communication needs of people who have not achieved use nor perhaps understanding of speech and may be “difficult to reach” in various ways. Intensive interaction is an approach where the member of staff is seen as the main teaching resource, using personal qualities of face, voice and body language to involve the learner in progressive sequences of interactive activities. These activities provide the person with learning difficulties with the opportunity to learn the pre-speech fundamentals of communication, such as enjoying being with another person, giving sustained attention, turn-taking, use and understanding of eye contacts, facial expressions, body language and non-verbal signalling. Cost: £145 per delegate. To book, contact Helen Janes:


12 November

VITAL Convention 2012: Making all the difference - supporting children with degenerative conditions London

This one-day convention will bring together professionals working in education, health and social care who support children experiencing degenerative conditions. The event is organised by the VITAL (Visual Impairment Touches All Learning) network for professionals with an interest in complex needs and visual impairment.

0121 665 4235

15 November

NAS Conference: Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA) Syndrome Edinburgh

PDA is increasingly recognised as part of the autism spectrum. Gain a greater understanding of PDA and an opportunity to discuss strategies and techniques that will help at school and at home.

We take every care when compiling the information on these pages. However, details may change, and we recommend that you contact the event organisers for up-todate information before you make arrangements to attend.

13 - 15 November

Achieving Outstanding Teaching, Training & Learning: Meeting the Challenge of the 2012 Common Inspection Framework 13 Nov: London 14 Nov: Birmingham 15 Nov: Leeds

This workshop has been designed for managers in organisations who have responsibility for improving the standards of teaching and training. This includes representatives from organisations delivering training to third parties through private and public funding, as well as those with responsibility for in-house staff training.

15 November

Education 2012: Better Buildings, Enhanced Learning, Positive Outcomes London

Conference exploring the links between people, places and performance in the schools sector.

17 November

Sensory Play and Leisure in the Multi Sensory Environment London

The multi-sensory environment offers a safe, comfortable space for sensory play experiences for children and young people with severe and multiple disabilities. This workshop will be useful for Early Years workers, play and youth workers, teachers and support assistant or carers or parents who have access to a multi-sensory facility. Concept Training Ltd


20 November

Special Educational Needs and Disabilities reform - the impact of the Children and Families Bill

The Westminster Education Forum is organising a seminar on the proposed reform of SEN provision in central London on 20 November 2012.


20 - 22 November

Improving Deployment of Learning Support Assistants: Maximising the Benefits & Contributions from Learning Support 20 Nov: Birmingham 21 Nov: Leeds 22 Nov: London

This workshop explores and challenges existing delivery models for learning support and examines the complexities of what learning assistants are actually doing as opposed to what they should and could do, and how their contributions can be maximised.

21 November

Choice Unlimited - Transitions Leicester

Over three floors, this event will showcase a range of services available to support young people throughout the transitions period. It is an opportunity to find out about information, services, products, ideas, innovation, education and employment. There will also be opportunities to experience sporting activities, such as wheelchair rugby, accessible climbing and racing in a driving simulator.

21 November

Working Memory, Learning and the Classroom Tour Bilton Grange, Warwickshire

The half-day event will cover an array of strategies that can be used in the classroom with pupils of all ages and abilities.

22 November

GovKnow Children and Young People’s Conference Central London

This one-day conference will focus on a range of issues regarding children’s services and policy. Delegates will have the opportunity to network with professionals and hear from key speakers from the sector. Special discounted rate of £150 (+VAT). Please quote reference SEN05.

CPD and training



CPD and training


22 November

Behaviour Management: A 4-Way Approach London

Training for teachers. £160

22 November

ISC SEN Conference Victoria Plaza Hotel, London

Aimed at SENCOs, directors of learning, LSAs, heads and SMT members. Delegates will hear from industry experts regarding the new National Agenda for SEN, pragmatic language impairments, access arrangements and current legal issues.

24 - 26 November

Bal-A-Vis-X Workshop London W2

Three days of intensive training. Bal-A-Vis-X is a series of over 300 Balance/Auditory/ Vision eXercises, of varied complexity, all of which are deeply rooted in rhythm. The workshop is suited to SEN teachers, professionals and parents. London workshop:

07766 837 616.

26 & 27 November

Nuffield Early Language Intervention – Reception London £850

29 November

Kidz up North Reebok Stadium, Bolton

More than 120 exhibitors providing information on new products, mobility, bathing, continence, seating, beds, communication, access, services, education, funding, transport, sensory, sports, leisure and much more. Also includes a full programme of free CPD seminars, with certificates of attendance for professionals available on the day. Free entry

0161 607 8200  


3 - 7 December

TEACCH Five-day Course Prior’s Court, Newbury, Berkshire

Inspirational and intensive course combining active learning sessions with direct, supervised experience working with students with autism in a structured setting. Led by TEACCH trainers from Division TEACCH and trainers from Prior’s Court with extensive training and experience with the TEACCH approach following more than seven years working with Division TEACCH. Three-day course also available. £995 professionals/parents. Prior’s Court Training & Development Centre

01635 247202 23 November

International Journal of Positive Behavioural Support Conference London

This will be the inaugural autumn conference of the BILD International Journal of Positive Behavioural Support. These approaches are established as the most appropriate when supporting people with intellectual disabilities. The conference will be an opportunity for practitioners, educators, researchers, nurses, trainers, families and others to hear from leading UK researchers and others.

28 - 30 November

Hanen: It Takes Two to Talk London

This experiential, three-day, Hanen Certification Workshop is for speech and language therapists who provide service to young children with language delays and their families. £750

join us on senmagazine

Various December

Mentoring New & Trainee Teachers & Trainers: Supporting those new to teaching/training to deliver outstanding learning 5 Dec: Leeds 6 Dec: Birmingham 12 Dec: London

This one-day workshop explores what a good mentoring programme looks like and outlines the skills, approaches and strategies that allow mentoring programmes to deliver success. In so doing, it better enables participants to provide high quality scaffolding and support in the fastest, most efficient and cost-effective manner.

7 December

Autistic Voices Conference Manchester

This conference, organised by Autism North West, whose committee members are all autistic, will bring together speakers from across the UK to discuss topics relevant to the autism community and interested professionals. Speakers include Chris Mitchell, Evelyn Hope Ashford and Scott James.

7 December

Eating Disorders in Young People Southampton

Day conference. For more information and to register your interest, contact Karyn Ambridge:

020 7403 7458

10 December

Autism Spectrum Disorder Totnes, Devon

Training Day. For more information and to register your interest, contact Karyn Ambridge:

020 7403 7458


CPD and training 11 December

17 & 18 January

Understand the Additional Needs of Learners with ADHD in the mainstream classroom: Accredited.

PECS Basic Training Workshop

Also home study. £225

Communication System

2013 16 January

Henshaws College Open Day


The Picture Exchange (PECS) is a tried-and-tested approach that teaches functional communication skills using pictures. This workshop will give you the background and all the practical details you need to start implementing


PECS immediately, including

Henshaws College provides specialist further education to students aged 16 - 25 with a range of disabilities, specialising in visual impairment. Potential students, their families and professionals working with them are invited to visit the fully accessible campus and meet current students and staff. Open Days must be pre-booked.

demonstrations, videos and

01423 886451

chances to practice.

01273 609 555

21 & 22 January

PECS Basic Training Workshop Scunthorpe

The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) is a tried-and-tested approach that teaches functional communication skills

17 January

Mindfulness York

using pictures. This workshop will give you the background and all the practical details you

Training Day. For more information and to register your interest, contact Karyn Ambridge:

need to start implementing

020 7403 7458

01273 609 555

17 & 18 January

PECS Basic Training Workshop Birmingham

PECS immediately, including demonstrations, videos and chances to practice.

23 January

Guide to Managing Challenging Behaviours London

The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) is a tried-and-tested approach that teaches functional communication skills using pictures. This workshop will give you the background and all the practical details you need to start implementing PECS immediately, including demonstrations, videos and chances to practice.

This workshop outlines a

01273 609 555

01273 609 555

powerful and effective model for dealing with difficult behaviours, including self injury and aggression. The Guide to Managing Challenging Behaviours training involves an introduction to broadspectrum behaviour analysis in the form of the Pyramid Approach to Education™.



CPD and training


24 January

28 January

Reforming child protection - new guidance, multiagency inspections and the next steps for Serious Case Reviews

School Funding Reform Conference

Central London

for the introduction of the

This seminar will present an opportunity to discuss the new statutory guidance for safeguarding children and the new inspection frameworks with a senior and informed group of speakers and delegates.

24 & 25 January


The School Funding Reform Conference will prepare you National Funding Formula in the next spending review and explain how the local funding system will operate from 2013/14 so you are ready for implementation in April 2013. This conference provides a range of tools and practical solutions for making savings, spending funds prudently and

PECS Basic Training Workshop

maximising your resources


teaching and learning.

The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) is a tried-and-tested approach that teaches functional communication skills using pictures. This workshop will give you the background and all the practical details you need to start implementing PECS immediately, including: demonstrations, videos and chances to practice.

01273 609 555

28 January

Moving from PECS to Speech Generating Devices (SGDs) London

in order to invest more in

28 January

2nd National Conference: Able, Gifted and Talented in Independent Prep Schools Denham

Keynotes: Professor Deborah Eyre and Mike Fleetham. For class and subject teachers, AGT coordinators, learning support teachers, directors of

Moving and Handling People: Future-proofing Care and Practice Business Design Centre, Islington, London

Pre-conference New Products Evaluation Workshops on 30 January. DLF’s annual CPD accredited event in three parts – conference with plenary/concurrent sessions, practical interactive workshops considering paediatric/adult handling situations, plus comprehensive exhibition and Professional Resource Centre. 3 for 2 offer and early booking discounts.

31 January & 1 February

PECS Basic Training Workshop Liverpool

The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) is a tried-and-tested approach that teaches functional communication skills using pictures. This workshop will give you the background and all the practical details you need to start implementing PECS immediately, including: demonstrations, videos and chances to practice.

01273 609 555

studies and senior mangers.

30 Jan - 2 Feb 2013

BETT 2013 Excel London

New workshop for 2013. With the current influx of communication devices and apps to the market how do we ensure that basic functional communication skills are maintained and taught right from the beginning? This talk covers guidelines for deciding if someone is a good candidate for using an SGD, and will discuss how we can use SGD’s with the PECS protocol.

The UK’s biggest education technology exhibition and conference has moved to its new home at Excel in London. New for 2013 is the BETT Arena in partnership with Microsoft, which will host internationally renowned expert speakers including ministers, politicians, media figureheads and recognised educationalists. Throughout the four days of the show, each will present insights and share thoughts into the latest trends and research in

01273 609 555


31 January & 1 February

5 - 7 February

Succeeding at Ofsted Short Notice Inspections & 2012 CIF: Maximising grades under the 2012 CIF & 2 day notice inspections

8 & 11 February

Babcock 4S Annual SEN Conference: SEND: The New Landscape – Preparing for Change 8 Feb: Epsom Downs Racecourse, Surrey 11 Feb: Mercure Maidstone, Kent

This annual event for SENCOs and SEND professionals working in all phases of education provides an invaluable opportunity to update knowledge and inspire and improve future classroom practice. To book, contact:

0800 073 4444 ext. 835008

18 - 22 February

3rd annual International Exhibition and Forum for Education Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Annual event of the Saudi Ministry of Education focused on providing opportunities for international businesses in the (special needs) education sector to create partnerships between international and GCC decision makers.

28 February

Understand the Additional Needs of Learners with ADHD in the mainstream classroom: Accredited. Also home study. £225

4 & 5 March

5 Feb: Leeds 6 Feb: London 7 Feb: Birmingham

PECS Basic Training Workshop The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) is a tried-and-tested approach that teaches functional communication skills using pictures. This workshop will give you the background and all the practical details you need to start implementing PECS immediately, including: demonstrations, videos and chances to practice.

technology and learning.

This intensive one-day workshop will be of interest to managers and quality specialists from all organisations subject to inspection under the common inspection framework for further education, learning and skills. The workshop will be of specific interest to those organisations involved with apprenticeship and ACL programmes.


01273 609 555

CPD and training 5 - 6 March

The National Autistic Society’s Professional Conference Harrogate

Education stream highlights: Dean Beadle, Aspergers, education and me, Charlie Henry, Achieving success for pupils with an outstanding Ofsted judgement – what are we looking for? Brenda Mullen, Community based education and support.

7 March

Behaviour Management: A 4-Way Approach London

Training for teachers. £160

7 March

Working Memory, Learning and the Classroom Tour Copthorne Prep, West Sussex

The half-day event will cover an array of strategies that can be used in the classroom with pupils of all ages and abilities.

7 March

Strategies for Working with Teenage and Adult Learners with Learning Disabilities (LD) Euston, London £160

10 - 13 March

The Jerusalem International Conference on Neuroplasticity and Cognitive Modifiability Jerusalem, Israel

14 - 16 March

The Education Show Birmingham NEC

The Education Show is the UK’s largest educational training and resources event: • discover five free conferences under one roof • hear exclusive insights from government bodies and leading associations • network with peers, discuss challenges and share advice • source the latest resources from leading SEN suppliers and receive special offers. For more information, visit:

15 March

Making Parenting Work for Children’s Mental Health London

Day Conference. For more information and to register your interest, contact Kerry O’Shaughnessy:

020 7403 7458

19 March

Working Memory, Learning and the Classroom Tour St Edwards School, Cheltenham

The half-day event will cover an array of strategies that can be used in the classroom with pupils of all ages and abilities.

This international conference will examine the role of cognitive intervention in the shaping of wo/man. It will offer the opportunity for a worldwide gathering of scientists, practitioners, therapists, and educators to explore developments in the fields of cognitive modifiability and neuroscience. The organisers are currently calling for abstracts from interested parties.


20 March

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy Leeds

Master Class. For more information and to register your interest, contact Karyn Ambridge:

020 7403 7458

27 March

Child Brain Injury Trust Annual Conference Birmingham

The Child Brain Injury Trust’s 7th annual conference will be titled “When the Bough Breaks”. This conference aims to raise awareness of the issues families face following ABI. It aims to showcase academic research, successful interventions, and highlight how professionals can embrace the subject matter positively in their day to day work.

9 - 11 April

WORLDDIDAC Astana Astana, Kazakhstan

An international exhibition of educational technologies and supplies, the exhibition is an opportunity for UK organisations to showcase the latest education technologies and solutions, that can help improve teaching and learning skills, to educationalists and government representatives from all over Kazakhstan.

25 April

Behaviour Management for Support Professionals London Euston

Training for LSAs and TAs. £160

26 April

Strategies for Working with Teenage and Adult Learners with PMLD Euston, London £160

9 May

Behaviour Management: A 4-Way Approach Birmingham

Training for teachers. £160

20 June

Behaviour Management: A 4-Way Approach London

Training for teachers. £160




sen resources DIRECTORY

SEN resources directory Information, advice and support for all things SEN... ADHD Information and support forum for those affected by ADD/ADHD:


Dyspraxia Foundation UK

Bullying UK Support and advice on bullying:

Dyspraxia advice and support

Childline National Attention Deficit Disorder Advice and support for those suffering from bullying: Information and Support Service (ADDISS) Resources and information for ADHD:

Cerebral palsy

Autism/ASD Asperger Foundation UK (ASF) Support for people with Asperger’s syndrome:

Autism Awareness Forum for sharing experience/advice for those affected by ASD:

Scope UK Help, advice and support for children and adults affected by cerebral palsy:

Down syndrome Down’s Syndrome Association (DSA) Information, support and training for those affected by Down syndrome:

Autistica Charity raising funds for medical research into autism:

The Down’s Syndrome Research Foundation UK (DSRF)

National Autistic Society (NAS)

Help and information for those affected by ASD:

Charity focussing on medical research into Down syndrome:


Research Autism

Charity dedicated to reforming attitudes and policy towards bullying:

Epilepsy Action Advice and information on epilepsy:

Young Epilepsy Support for children and young people with epilepsy plus training for professionals.

General SEN British Institute for Learning Disabilities Charity for learning disabilities:

Cerebra UK Charity for children with brain related conditions:

Child Brain Injury Trust Supporting children, young people, families and professionals when a child has acquired a brain injury.

The UK Government’s education department:

Anti-Bullying Alliance (ABA)


Department for Education (DfE)

Charity focused on researching interventions in autism:



British Dyslexia Association (BDA) Mencap Information and support for people affected by dyslexia:

Learning disabilities charity:

Dyslexia Action

National Association for Special Educational Needs (NASEN)

UK bullying prevention charity:

Charity providing services to those affected by dyslexia:

Organisation for the education, training, advancement of those with SEN:

Beat Bullying


sen resources directory

General SEN

Home schooling

National Parent Partnership Network

The Home Education Network UK (THENUK)

Network of local partnerships providing information, advice and support for parents and carers of those with SEN:

National organisation for home educators:

PMLD PMLD Network Information and support for PMLD:

Rebound therapy Hearing impairment Action on Hearing Loss Hearing impairment charity:

The National Rebound Therapy Consultancy UK governing body for rebound therapy.

SEN law

Deafness Research UK Charity promoting medical research into hearing impairment:

Learning outside the classroom Council for Learning Outside the classroom (CLOtC) Awarding body for the LOtC quality badge:


The Communication Trust Raising awareness of SLCN:

Tourette’s syndrome Tourette's Action

Information and advice on Tourette’s:

Visual impairment National Blind Children’s Society

Support and services for parents and carers of blind children:

Support and advice to those affected by visual impairment:

National Deaf Children’s Society

Communication Matters

Support for people with little or no clear speech:

Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB)

Charity to help deaf children and young people:


Independent Parental Special Education Advice Legal advice and support for parents:

Spina bifida Shine Information and support relating to spina bifida and hydrocephalus:


For the latest news, articles, resources, cpd and events listings, visit:

ACE Centre Advice on communication aids:

National Literacy Trust (NLT)


Literacy charity for adults and children:

Help and advice on SLCN:



eazine for special SthuebUK'sslecadrinib g mag

to ar (6 issues) educational needs - ÂŁ48.50. aForye call 01200 409802) international subscriptions please online. (UK only UK subscription discount available

Get every issue of SEN Magazine delivered direct to your home or work place. Simply fill in this form and send it to the address below. Contact details for delivery: Home q Work q Title ___________ First name _____________________________ Surname ____________________________________ Address ____________________________________________________________________________________________ Town _____________________________________________ County __________________________________________ Postcode _________________________________ Tel. (inc. STD)______________________________________________ Email _______________________________________________________________________________________________ Signature ___________________________________________________________________________________________ Which of the following categories best describe your involvement with special educational needs? SENCO Headteacher Teacher TA/classroom assistant Student

q q q q q

Parent q Carer q Therapist q Educational psychologist q Other (please specify) _______________________

How to pay By cheque: make your cheque for ÂŁ48.50 payable to SEN Magazine and post with this form to the address below. Bank or card payment: If you would like to pay by BACS or debit/credit card, please contact the office on: 01200 409800 or email:

Invoice required q Invoicing details (If different from above) Contact name ______________________________________________________________________________________ Organisation ________________________________________________________________________________________ Address ___________________________________________________________________________________________ Town _________________________________________ County ______________________________________________ Postcode ______________________________ Tel. (inc. STD) _______________________________________________ Order number _________________________________ Signature ____________________________________________

Subscriptions, SEN Magazine, Chapel House, 5 Shawbridge Street, Clitheroe BB7 1LY Tel: 01200 409800 Email:


Accounts/contact email _______________________________________________________________________________ If you do not want to receive our monthly newsletter, tick here q

SEN Magazine - SEN61 - Nov/Dec 2012  

The UK’s leading special educational needs magazine and is essential reading for parents/carers and SEN professionals. Keep up to date, read...