SEND Definitions - Areas of Special Educational Needs/Disabilities

The related links on this page will provide guidance of some of the SEND definitions that are commonly asked about by parents/carers and professionals.

Next review August 2024

What is ADHD?

ADHD is a common behavioral disorder that affects an estimated 8% to 10% of school-age children. Boys are about three times more likely than girls to be diagnosed with it, though it's not yet understood why.

What is ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder)

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What is Autism?

Autism is a complex developmental condition that typically appears during the first three or four years of a child's life, (girls are being diagnosed more frequently now as there is more knowledge about how autism effects girls).

Autistic Spectrum Condition is the most common form of Special Educational Needs (SEN) in Reading and there is a wealth of experience amongst local families. Autism Berkshire and Parenting Special Children  are good places to start making contact with other families and learn how best to support your own child’s needs. National Autistic Society   

What is Autism

Living Well with Autism

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What is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy is the general term for a number of neurological conditions that affect movement and co-ordination.

Neurological conditions are caused by problems in the brain and nervous system.

Specifically, cerebral palsy is caused by a problem in the parts of the brain responsible for controlling muscles. The condition can occur if the brain develops abnormally or is damaged before, during or shortly after birth.

What is Cerebral Palsy (CP)

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What is Hearing Impairment?

Hearing loss, being hard of hearing or deaf means a partial or total inability to hear. General signs of hearing loss can include:-

  • In young children, lack of response to noises

  • Difficulty hearing other people clearly and misunderstanding what they say

  • Asking people to repeat themselves

  • Listening to music or watching television with the volume turned up high

To find out more Click here

What is Hearing Impairment

What is Down's Syndrome?

Down's syndrome is a genetic condition that occurs by chance. It typically causes some level of learning disability and a characteristic range of physical features.

Most babies born with Down's syndrome are diagnosed with the condition after birth, and are likely to have:-

  • Reduced muscle tone leading to floppiness (hypotonia)

  • Eyes that slant upwards and outwards

  • Their palm may have only one crease across it (palmar crease)

  • Below average weight and length at birth

To find out more Click here

What is Down's Syndrome

What is Dyspraxia?

Dyspraxia (also known as Developmental Coordination Disorder, or DCD) is a developmental disorder which affects physical coordination. People with dyspraxia have poor fine and/or gross motor skills, compared to their general level of intelligence. This can be seen in tasks such as:-

  • Handwriting and drawing

  • Learning to dress

  • Riding a bicycle

  • Sports and games

  • Driving

To find out more Click here

What is Dyspraxia


What is Global Development Delay?

Global Developmental Delay is the general term used to describe the condition in which children are significantly delayed in all areas of development.

Babies and children usually develop certain skills and abilities in a fairly predictable order and at fairly predictable ages. Whilst all children grow at slightly different rates, the difference for children with Global Developmental Delay is that they often do not develop these skills until a much later age than would be expected. 

What is Global Development Delay

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What is Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA)?

What is PDA?

Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA) is a developmental disorder which is distinct from autism but falls under the spectrum. It is a pervasive developmental disorder (meaning it affects all areas of development) and was first identified by Elizabeth Newson in 2003, although it is still not currently recognised in many tools used for diagnosing autism. It is a complex, challenging and misunderstood condition that is often ignored or not even recognised by many professionals. It is worth noting that strategies which are helpful for learners with autistic spectrum disorders may not be useful in cases of PDA.

Read more about PDA by following the link

What is Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA)

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What is Sensory Impairment?

What is sensory impairment?  

Sensory impairment is when one of your senses; sight, hearing, smell, touch, taste and spatial awareness, is no longer normal. 

Examples - If you wear glasses you have a sight impairment , if you find it hard to hear or have a hearing aid then you have a hearing impairment.

 A person does not have to have full loss of a sense to be sensory impaired.

 What is dual sensory impairment?

 It is the combination of both hearing and sight impairment. It is not necessarily a total loss of both senses – indeed the majority of dual sensory impaired people do have some degree of sight and/or hearing. Those with a less severe degree of both sight and hearing impairment may also be referred to as having a dual sensory impairment or loss. The words dual sensory impaired and deafblind are generally accepted as inter-changeable words.

Sensory Differences - National Autistic Society

Does my child have Sensory Processing Disorder 

Spatial Awareness - Occupational Therapy for Children

Spatial Awareness - How to Improve Your Childs Spatial Awareness with Development Activities

What is Sensory Impairment

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What is SEMH (Social Emotional Mental Health)?

Children and young people may experience a wide range of social and emotional difficulties which manifest themselves in many ways. These may include becoming withdrawn or isolated, as well as displaying challenging, disruptive or disturbing behaviour. These behaviours may reflect underlying mental health difficulties such as anxiety or depression, self-harming, substance misuse, eating disorders or physical symptoms that are medically unexplained. Other children and young people may have disorders such as attention deficit disorder, attention deficit hyperactive disorder or attachment disorder. 6.33 Schools and colleges should have clear processes to support children".

SEMH does not have to be a lifelong condition. With appropriate support children and young people can move forward and live successful lives.

What is Social Emotional Mental Health (SEMH)

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What is Vision Impairment?

What is Visual Impairment?

What is Visual Impairment?

Many people have some type of visual problem at some point in their lives. Some can no longer see objects far away. Others have problems reading small print. These types of conditions are often easily treated with eyeglasses or contact lenses.

But when one or more parts of the eye or brain that are needed to process images become diseased or damaged, severe or total loss of vision can occur. In these cases, vision can't be fully restored with medical treatment, surgery, or corrective lenses like glasses or contacts.

Some people are completely blind, but many others have what's called legal blindness. They haven't lost their sight completely but have lost enough vision that they'd have to stand 20 feet from an object to see it as well as someone with perfect vision could from 200 feet away.

What is Vision Impairment

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Related Advice

Jargon Buster What is Sensory Impairment

Page last reviewed: 11/08/2023

Contact the Team

Family Information Service 0118 937 3777 OPTION 2 0118 937 3777 OPTION 2

SEND Local Offer 0118 937 3777 OPTION 2 0118 937 3777 OPTION 2

Adult & Carers Support 0118 937 3747 0118 937 3747
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