The 4 Broad Areas of Need
Four Areas of Need
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What are the four areas of SEND?
In the SEND Code of Practice, there are four broad areas of special educational needs, that should be identified and focused on within educational settings.
The four main SEND areas are:
- Communication and Interaction
- Cognition and Learning
- Social, Emotional and Mental Health difficulties
- Physical and/or Sensory Needs
With regard to these categories, the Code states that "Many children and young people have difficulties that fit clearly into one of these areas; some have needs that span two or more areas; for others the precise nature of their need may not be clear at the outset."
To understand what that means further, here is a look at what each of the four areas of SEN.
Communication and Interaction:
Communication and Interaction can encompass a lot of needs and issues that a child may have, including Autistic Spectrum Condition (ASC). Some communication and interaction issues that can present themselves in Autistic children include:
- Difficulties understanding and using verbal and non-verbal communication.
- Understanding social behaviours and expectations, which can impact on a child's ability to interact with other children and adults around them.
- A reliance on structure and routine in their life.
As well as ASC, Communication and Interaction can also include Speech, Language and Communication Needs (SLCN).
Children and young people can experience a range of difficulties that are linked with speech and language.
Speech, Language and Communication Needs can present themselves in a variety of ways, including:
- The production of speech.
- Struggling with finding the right word, or not being able to join words together in a meaningful way.
- Problems communicating through speech, for example difficulties finding the correct language to express thoughts and ideas that they are having.
- Difficulties and delays in understanding or responding to verbal cues from others.
- Understanding and using language in specific social situations.
Cognition and Learning:
Cognition and learning can cover a range of needs. Children are identified as having cognition and learning needs if they have difficulties with literacy and numeracy (which therefore impacts their ability to access learning across the curriculum), or if their levels of attainment are significantly below age-related expectations.
Some pupils with cognition and learning needs may have a Specific Learning Difficulty (SpLD) Some examples of specific learning difficulties are:
Pupils with dyscalculia have difficulty in acquiring maths-based skills. This can be especially clear if a pupil performs well in all other subjects. Children with dyscalculia can struggle with spotting patterns and making estimates.
Dysgraphia is a specific learning difficulty that can affect a child's ability to express themselves through writing. Dysgraphia affects fine motor skills. This means that it is often the case that children with dysgraphia can express themselves orally fluently but struggle when writing.
Dyslexia is a specific learning difficulty that affects the way that someone processes information. This makes skills like spelling and reading difficult, and can affect organisational skills and memory.
Dyspraxia is also known as developmental coordination disorder (DCD). For children with dyspraxia fine and gross motor skills can be difficult to learn. This means that they can show signs of clumsiness and struggle with organisation skills.Pupils with dyspraxia may also have poor balance, coordination, and spatial awareness, and may try and avoid certain actions like running, skipping, and hopping.
Other children identified as having Cognition and Learning Needs may have more general learning difficulties or disabilities. These are known as global difficulties and include moderate learning difficulties (MLD), severe learning difficulties (SLD), and profound and multiple learning difficulties (PMLD).
Moderate Learning Difficulty (MLD)
Children with MLD may have greater difficulty in basic literacy and numeracy. They may also have speech and language issues. Pupils with MLD are likely to need additional support outside of the National Curriculum.
The effects of having an MLD can also lead to children having lower self-esteem, lower levels of concentration, and under-developed social skills, so it is important that adults watch out for the well-being of pupils as well as their academic achievements.
Severe Learning Difficulty (SLD)
Children with severe learning difficulties are likely to need substantial support in all areas of the curriculum.
Most children with SLD have other needs such as physical, sensory, communication, and interaction needs and social and emotional needs, as well as their cognition and learning needs.
Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulty (PMLD)
Children with Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties have more than one disability, the most significant of which is a profound learning disability.
Having a profound learning disability and other disabilities significantly affects an individual's ability to communicate and be independent.
Children with PMLD may have difficulties seeing, hearing, speaking, and moving. It is likely that they will have needs in all four areas.
Social, Emotional and Mental Emotional Health:
Children with Social, Emotional, and Mental Emotional Health can display signs of this in a variety of different ways, some may be withdrawn and prefer to be alone, whilst others may be hyperactive and find it difficult to when concentrating on tasks.
For some children, their emotional needs may impact their learning. For example, they may not be able to follow requests such as to sit still with arms folded or stay quiet during lessons. It is important that children with SEMH needs are able to learn in an environment that suits them, for example, they may need to take regular movement breaks, use fidget items, and be given opportunities to move around the classroom or school whilst learning.
Children with SEMH needs may have anxiety. This may be reduced by providing clear routines and explanations of what to expect each day. Children with anxiety may also benefit from being provided with a calm space to go to whenever they need it.
Sensory and/or Physical:
Some examples of sensory and physical needs include:
In educational settings, pupils are typically considered to have a Hearing Impairment if they require hearing aids or adaptions to their learning environment in order to access the National Curriculum.
In general, a Visual Impairment is defined as an eyesight problem that cannot be corrected with glasses, contact lenses, or surgery.
In educational settings there a few different terms that may be used including partially sighted, low vision, legally blind, and totally blind to describe the level of sight a student has and help determine the adaptations that they may benefit from.
Sensory Processing Difficulties:
Children with sensory processing difficulties may be sensory avoiders, or sensory seekers. This can result in them avoiding certain experiences or becoming anxious or overwhelmed by sensory input. It can also cause children to seek out sensory input, for example by making repeated movements, chewing items or fiddling. Sensory processing issues are particularly common among Autistic pupils, and providing a learning environment that meets these needs will enable pupils to learn more easily and improve wellbeing.