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Special Education, Pre-school Children

I have been told that my child has learning difficulties. What does this mean? 

I have been told that my young child has special educational needs. What does this mean?

 

What are the different sorts of special educational need?

 

I have been told that my young child needs to be assessed. What does this involve?

 

What is an assessment?

 

How serious do my child’s problems need to be before s/he is assessed?

 

Will my child improve?

 

My child has been referred to the education and library board. How long do I have to wait before my child is assessed by an educational specialist?

 

My child’s special educational needs are obvious and serious and I think something needs to be done quickly. Will my child still need to see an educational specialist?

 

What if I do not want my child assessed?

 

What if I do not agree with the results of my child’s assessment?

 

Will the education and library board take action to help my child before s/he starts school?

 

Will my child have to go to special school?

 

Where can I find out more?

I have been told that my child has learning difficulties. What does this mean?
If your child has learning difficulties, this means that s/he has significantly greater difficulty learning than the majority of children of his/her age. It may mean that your child has a problem which makes it more difficult for him/her to respond to teaching when school starts.

 

I have been told that my young child has special educational needs. What does this mean?
Your child has Special Educational Need if s/he has a learning difficulty which calls for special educational support to be made available. Special educational support is any help for your child that is different from or extra to, children’s general requirements.

 

What are the different sorts of special educational need?
The most common Special Educational Needs are those that result from your child having difficulties learning new and useful skills. However, there are also special educational needs resulting from difficult behaviour, troubles with communication, problems moving parts of the body, hearing difficulties, problems of eyesight and health difficulties.

 

I have been told that my young child needs to be assessed. What does this involve?
In order to be sure that your child has special educational needs and to understand what these needs are, your child will have assessments of various kinds and at various times before school starts. Earliest assessments will be carried out by community medical staff such as your GPs, special doctor and/or your Health Visitor. If, at this stage, it is considered that your child may have special educational needs or may have special educational needs at the time schooling starts, then these people may either take steps to help you themselves or they may ask your permission to refer your child to the attention of educational specialists who work for your local education and library board. This will result in your child being assessed by one or more educational specialists.

 

What is an assessment?
In order to assess your child an educational specialist will make one or more visits to your home. S/he will want to spend time getting to know you and your child. The specialists will investigate why your child finds learning difficult and what help your child needs. As well as letting you know his/her opinions, the specialist will be keen to listen to your views about your child’s difficulties and what you feel may be necessary in order to meet your child’s needs.

 

How serious do my child’s problems need to be before s/he is assessed?
Special Educational Needs vary in how serious they may be in different children. The more serious the needs, the more difficulties there may be once school starts. You should be worried if your child’s development is more like that of a much younger child. If this is the case it is likely that your child will still experience problems when s/he starts school. The fact that medical and education and library board staffs know your child and are trying to help should be a comfort to you. It means that your child’s needs have been recognised and steps to address these difficulties are underway.

 

Will my child improve?
If you are looking at the answers to these frequently asked questions then it is likely that your child’s problems are serious and may well last into the time when school starts and beyond. However, all children with Special Educational Needs are reviewed regularly by educational staff. It is possible that, with suitable help, that your child’s difficulties will improve.

 

My child has been referred to the education and library board. How long do I have to wait before my child is assessed by an educational specialist?
The education and library boards recognise the importance of early help for pre-school children. Once a child has been referred, they try to respond as quickly as possible. However, resources in terms of specialist manpower may be limited and so it is likely that you may have to wait longer than you would wish.

 

My child’s special educational needs are obvious and serious and I think something needs to be done quickly. Will my child still need to see an educational specialist?
For most pre-school children with Special Educational Needs evidence is collected first to be sure that learning difficulties are identified efforts are put in place to help. If your child has very obvious and serious special educational needs and school is due to start soon, medical staff may seek an immediate Statutory Assessment in order to make sure the necessary support will be in place once school starts. In this case, assessment by education specialists will be part of the statutory process.

 

What if I do not want my child assessed?
Most parents agree to their child assessment because they are very worried about the future. However, if you think your child does not have Special Educational Needs or if you think these needs are not serious enough to be assessed then you should tell the educational specialist.

 

What if I do not agree with the results of my child’s assessment?
Educational specialists are trained and experienced professionals. Most parents agree with the assessment results. However, you should tell the educational specialist if you feel that his/her opinions about your child’s Special Educational nNeeds are wrong. The specialist should listen to your concerns.

 

Will the education and library board take action to help my child before s/he starts school?
Education and Library Boards recognise the importance of early help for children with special educational needs. They will do what they reasonably can to help your child but they may be limited in terms of available support.

 

Will my child have to go to special school?
Unless your child has particularly significant special educational needs, s/he will attend the mainstream school of your choice and the school’s teachers will be responsible for meeting his/her special educational needs. Statutory Assessment is designed to get and to protect the special support your child may need if his/her learning difficulties particularly significant. If you agree to Statutory Assessment, you may suggest and/or the education and library board may suggest that special school placement would be a better arrangement in order to meet your child’s special educational needs. However, no such arrangement will be put in place unless the Statutory Assessment suggests that this is in your child’s best interests and you agree.

 

Where can I find out more?
You can find out more by contacting your local Education and Library Board.