What Is Special Education Needs (SEN)

What Is Special Education Needs (SEN)

What is SEN?

SEN stands for Special Education Needs. It is a broad term that refers to the special educational needs for a child with disability or difficulty. Such children may have diverse learning needs and varying capabilities and the SEN program helps them to maximise their potential within the given educational set up.

The child with a difficulty may have wide ranging or specific needs which makes learning difficult for them as the given difficulty may interfere with any specific area of education, such as reading or writing letters, or number identification or overall inattention, and hence the task appears even more so tedious for such children. As a result, the child may face greater difficulties in learning than the majority of students his age and may need an intervention by a Special Educator. 

SEN supports the child by providing them with an Individualised Education Program (IEP) which is customised for each child’s specific learning capability to maximise his/her learning curve. The intervention by a Special Educator is aimed at outlining goals in the area of reading, writing, spelling, vocabulary and writing which are based on the child’s current functioning level. It must be remembered that these goals are skill based and the main aim of the intervention is to help the child improve his skill sets in the above mentioned areas that then makes the child improve in his overall academic performance.

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WHO WILL BENEFIT FROM SEN?

Any child who has been diagnosed with Specific Learning Difficulty, Spectrum Disorder, Intellectual Impairment, Developmental Delay, Attention Difficulties, or such learning impairment will benefit from being provided with special education. It is also commonly referred to as Remedial Intervention which is a one on one academic intervention provided by a trained special educator.

WHY SEN?

A common query often asked why does my child needs an intervention by a Special Educator? The important difference in the academic support provided by a regular teacher or tutor as compared to a Special Educator lies in the approach of working towards the child. While a regular tutor caters to content support or makes the child redo the same textbook questions, a Special Educator works on the skill sets of the child thereby seeking improvement in overall performance. The Special Educator based on his/her initial assessment  will also keep in mind the primary learning style of the child and thus the intervention is customised based on the learning needs. A variety of modes of learning, including, visual, auditory and multi-sensory approach is usually adopted towards teaching learning methodology for making learning fun and long lasting.

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WHERE CAN I GET SEN SUPPORT?

With the increasing awareness and a preventive approach gaining stance in today’s times, Special Education Services is gaining a lot of prominence. Many mainstream schools which support students with special needs provide with the academic intervention support (or the SEN support) by recruiting special educators. These educators work in a one on one set up and develop specific educational tools that cater to the specific individual needs of the child.

The services of special educators can also be availed at a clinic or outside school. They work on skill based intervention in the areas of language, numeracy and overall study skills and organisational skills.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

The Individualised Educational Plan is usually developed keeping in mind the broad objective of setting reasonable and realistic goals of learning that can be achieved in a given academic session keeping the strengths of the child in mind and also the nature of difficulty that impairs his/her learning. It is important that the psycho-educational assessment of the child has been shared with the special educator. Sometimes a baseline informal assessment is done by the special educator to ascertain the child’s current functioning capability. The goals are made annually and divided into short term and the long term goals for a specific individual. While the long term goals helps the special educator determine what achievements the individual child may be able to progress by the end of the year, the short term goals are broken down into more specific tangible and measurable goals to be achieved in each skills/area. It also specifies the frequency and duration of the intervention services. It also enlists if any accommodations or assistive devices are being used by the individual students. Is the student is availing other intervention services such as speech and language or occupational, these goals are also integrated into the Individualised Education Plan. This leads to an integrated educational plan and is more effective.

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Students with Special Educational Needs need to be taught differently and the curriculum must have a  skill based approach. An Individualised Education Plan is a methodical tool which helps the professionals working with such children develop a customised education plan that works in favour of the child keeping his/her strengths at forefront. The aim is to be able to cater to the specific nature of disability, be it cognitive, social, speech or language,  attention or sensory deficits and with the use of appropriate assertive devices and accommodations provide a level playing field to children with difficulties.

“The secret in education lies in respecting the student.”-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Here are some books that may interest you-

Teaching Children and Young People with Special Education Needs

Special Education Needs : The Basics

Fundamentals of Special Education : What Every Teacher Needs to Know

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Puja Sood
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