A guide to sensory and physical needs of children and young people with SEND.

This category of SEND describes the needs of children and young people with visual and/or hearing impairments, physical needs that mean they have additional ongoing support and equipment, and those children with medical needs that affect their ability to access school.

Hearing

If you are worried about your child’s hearing you can ask your doctor for a hearing test, from which they will make a clinical decision about referring to an audiologist. An audiologist will determine if a referral to our specialist team is appropriate, or if your child’s needs can be met in school.  If your child’s school or setting needs informal advice and support over the phone then they can contact the SEND hubs.

Some signs and symptoms that your child may have hearing problems are:

  • pain in ear – ear infections
  • TV turned up loudly
  • not responding as you would expect
  • missing word endings
  • speech difficulties/delay – incomplete/word approximations
  • looking at the mouth of the speaker
  • shouting or a raised voice when speaking
  • asking for repetition –“what?”
  • dreamy and distracted
  • moving closer to speaker
  • school work being affected
  • displaying poor behaviour
  • not following instructions
  • school expressing concern - suggesting child is not hearing & listening – is being a selective listener
  • appear to hear better on some days than others
  • reduced vocabulary

Our teachers of the Deaf support children and young people with the most significant hearing needs. We use criteria based on that produced by the National Sensory Impairment Partnership (NatSIP), and so work with children and young people who have been diagnosed with a hearing loss and have been prescribed hearing aids, including cochlear implants.

The support we provide varies from child to child and can include:

  • specialist assessment to inform effective inclusive practice
  • practical support and advice
  • direct teaching of specialist skills
  • advice or support during transition
  • advice on appropriate specialist resources
  • advice on, and loan of, specialist equipment
  • multi-agency liaison
  • training for all staff and agencies involved and the wider children's workforce

Vision

We all need regular sight tests, and your optician may prescribe glasses, or your doctor may refer your child for further assessment and possible treatment. If so, ask them if a referral to our vision support team is appropriate. There is no lower age limit for our involvement. A school, health visitor or parent can also directly refer a child to us if they are concerned.

Some signs and symptoms that your child may have difficulties with their vision are

  • headaches
  • changes in vision
  • bumping or tripping
  • discomfort in eyes
  • unusual appearance of eyes
  • bringing text close to eyes
  • not seeing as well in different light conditions
  • school expressing concern about vision

Our specialist teachers of the visually impaired support children and young people who meet our criteria for involvement. We use criteria based on that produced by the National Sensory Impairment Partnership (NatSIP), working with only those children and young people have at best 6/18 sight when corrected and/or moderate to severe loss of field.

The support we provide varies from child to child and can include:

  • specialist assessment to inform effective inclusive practice
  • practical support and advice
  • direct teaching of specialist skills
  • advice or support during transition
  • advice on appropriate specialist resources
  • advice on, and loan of, specialist equipment
  • multi-agency liaison
  • training for all staff and agencies involved and the wider children's workforce

Physical

Have you noticed that your child’s walking pattern is unsteady or do they have difficulties holding and manipulating objects which you would expect a child of their age to be able to do?  Has your child reached their developmental milestones? If you have concerns about your child’s fine or gross motor skills, or their mobility, you should speak to your health visitor or to your doctor.  

Some physical disabilities are apparent at a child’s birth, while others might be acquired due to an accident or injury. There are also physical disabilities which become apparent as a child gets a little older.

There are also a wide variety of medical conditions which may or may not have visible symptoms. If you are concerned about your child’s health, you should speak to your health visitor or doctor. For children who have difficulties in school, or with attending school, there are various options available including specialist support for the school, education in hospital or part-time timetables.

Children and young people who need specialist equipment to access education, for example bespoke chairs, hoists and standers, will be supported by occupational therapists and physiotherapists. They will prescribe any equipment which is needed, and then your child’s school will arrange purchase.

Further information

Download the Department for Education SEND guide for parents and carers. This guides parents through the different parts of the Department for Education SEND code of practice.