Every second of every day, a child is born, often as a visibly perfect package of fully functioning limbs and cherubic features. So, at what point can we tell if our perfect child has special educational needs which are non-visible?

Problems can often be detected very early in a child’s development. Delays with gross and fine motor skills, communication difficulties, or cognitive, visual, auditory, social and emotional skills may not function as clearly as expected for the age.

Milestone achievements will differ from child to child, but as a general guide, by two years old, a child should be able to walk and jump using both feet. They should be able to kick a ball and walk downstairs holding a handrail, climb furniture or playground equipment with confidence, stack small toys and use crayons with careful concentration.

By three years old, a child should be able to balance, stand, jump and hop on one foot. They can catch large balls, walk backwards and ride a tricycle. The fine motor skills include turning a page in a book, drawing a circle and manipulating the smaller components of a toy and be able to feed themselves.

Between 2 and 3 years old language skills are developing rapidly. By around 18 months old, a child’s vocabulary includes around 50 words whereas by the age of 3 years, it has grown to 300. Delayed speech should always be reported to the healthcare provider, as a referral to a speech-language therapist may be necessary.

By the age of 8 or 9 however, problems can be suspected if a child:

  • cannot connect letters with sounds
  • reading comprehension and number concepts are limited
  • memory is poor
  • they have problems with following directions
  • difficulty communicating with peers and adults
  • problems controlling attention or behaviour

Children with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) often show signs of regressive language skills, repetitive behaviours, poor eye contact, avoidance behaviours, a fixation on routines and difficulty in expressing emotions and comprehending social cues.

So, why do some children present with Special Needs? Risk factors can include a family history of learning disabilities. Genetic predisposition is recognised as a factor with ASD, dyslexia and sometimes with ADHD. Other factors can include prenatal injury or delivery complications affecting neurological development, exposure to environmental toxins such as lead or toxic mould and parental substance abuse while pregnant.

Whatever the reasons behind the developmental challenges, a child with special educational needs should be helped to feel safe, nurtured and supported at home and at school where they can flourish and improve on the strengths they already possess. All SEND children have skills which can be unwrapped in an encouraging environment.

This is why they are a wonderful investment for our future.

‘Children are not a distraction from more important work. They are the most important work.’


For more information on SEN schools, please contact:

https://www.hhhschool.co.uk/                                 https://www.fhhschool.co.uk/