10 common types of Special Educational Needs

10 Common Types of Special Educational Needs

esSENtial ABA Childcare provides childcare services and nanny services to children and young people with special educational needs. Having provided care for a wide range of special educational needs and disabilities, we have used our experience and research to put together a list of ten common special educational needs each with an indication of their level of impact.


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a group of behaviours that affect a person’s ability to focus and control impulses. ADHD is broken down into the three types listed below:

  • Inattentive ADHD
  • Impulsive ADHD
  • A combination of both inattentive and impulsive.

ADHD is usually diagnosed at a young age. According to the NHS, the diagnosis range is from 6-12 years of age.

ADHD will usually have a different impact for each child. ADHD qualifies as being a special educational need because pupils who are diagnosed will need additional support compared to pupils without ADHD.

It is important to identify pupils with ADHD as early as possible so they are not excluded. ADHD can manifest into difficult challenging behaviours and impulses. It may be necessary to secure support via a Statement of Special Educational Needs.

If you think that your child needs additional support, some useful information can be found here on the NHS website:



Many children and young people can suffer from anxiety. Most of us will have experienced various levels and forms of anxiety in our everyday lives and situations. As much as anxiety can be quite normal, anxiety can also become a special educational need. When anxiety causes problems for a child to engage in normal everyday activities, you may look to find some support.

If a child or young person is suffering a form of anxiety, it will usually be very clear to their parents, guardians or teachers. Unfortunately, younger people suffering from anxiety disorders do not always receive the support that they require. It is not uncommon to be refused special educational needs support from a school or local authority for anxiety related issues.

Here are a few common forms of anxiety causes and symptoms.

  • School phobia
  • Social phobia
  • Separation anxiety
  • Attachment disorder
  • Panic disorder

If a child or young person's anxiety is blocking their ability to take part in normal day-to-day activities, especially at school and in the classroom, it is likely that they have a special educational need. If you think that your child suffers from anxiety and will need additional educational support, some further information can be found here:



Anorexia is a mental health condition which causes a child or person to constantly keep their body weight very low. A child or young person diagnosed with anorexia will keep their weight low by not eating or eating very little. They might also induce vomiting after meals, or exercise excessively after meals or whenever they can. Anorexia is recognised as a disability, it can also be treated as a special educational need.

Children and young people diagnosed with Anorexia can obtain a special educational provision to help them learn how to manage the condition and improve their health. Anorexia can often result in fatigue and difficulties with concentrating at school. It is extremely important that support is provided in school, as well as ongoing support from medical practitioners or doctors.

A detailed assessment of the impact of Anorexia should be conducted as early as possible. This is usually done via a statutory assessment or an EHC needs assessment. Special educational provision should then be provided to ensure that the child is able to remain in school education.

Some further information and support for Anorexia can be found here:


Autistic Spectrum Condition

Autistic Spectrum Condition (ASC) is also known as Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD). ASC / ASD is a developmental condition which causes children or young adults to have difficulty developing social and interaction skills. The condition can lead to a child or young person becoming isolated.

It is very important that a child or young adult with ASC / ASD is identified as early as possible to ensure that their developmental difficulties are fully understood. ASC / ASD support will usually result in a special educational provision. Support can be provided by specialist teachers, ABA professionals and speech and language therapists.

If a school cannot provide the ASC / ASD support required for the child, they can still help parents seek a Statement of Special Educational Needs or an Education Health and Care Plan.

Some further information for Autistic Spectrum Condition can be found here:



Behavioural Difficulties EBD, SEBD, SEMH

Children and young people with behaviour difficulties will show behavioral and emotional responses which are different from their peers. People with behavioural difficulties will be said to have Emotional Behavioural Difficulties (EBD) or Social, Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties (SEBD) or In England, Social, Emotional and Mental Health Difficulties (SEMH)

Children with behavioural difficulties can show anti-social behaviour, disruptive behaviour, aggressive behaviour and have difficulties forming relationships.

At esSENtial ABA Childcare, our experience with working with children who have behavioural difficulties tells us that individualised support and an altered learning environment will often be required.

The level of support needed for behavioural difficulties can vary quite a bit case to case. Most cases will require special educational provision.

To learn more on behavioural difficulties visit http://www.sebda.org/sebd/

Down Syndrome

Down Syndrome, also known as Down’s Syndrome, is a genetic condition which occurs as a result of having an additional chromosome. A child or young adult with down syndrome can display characteristic physical features and will generally have learning difficulties. They can also suffer with other medical issues such as visual impairments, heart problems and thyroid disorders. People with Down Syndrome can require a range of special educational provision. Special educational provision can include speech and language therapy, physiotherapists and specialist teaching.

It is important to understand the extent and nature of a child or young person’s learning difficulties and whether any other developmental delay is present. That will then ensure that the appropriate special educational provision is delivered.

A statutory assessment or EHC needs assessment is often required to understand the extent of a child’s learning difficulties and whether there’s any developmental delay present.

Further information on Down Syndrome can be found below:




Dyslexia is a learning difficulty which can make understanding words and language very difficult. Some common signs of Dyslexia are:

  • Missing letters when spelling words.
  • Reading slowly and lacking fluency.
  • Missing out sections of text when reading.
  • Writing letters and figures the wrong way round;
  • Poor organisation skills.
  • Poor memory and concentration.

Dyslexia can vary quite a bit between children and young adults. This makes it very important to properly assess the educational need and what special educational provision will be necessary.

In most cases of Dyslexia, school based special educational needs support could be sufficient. If school based special educational needs support is insufficient, a Statement of Special Educational Needs or an Education Health and Care Plan will be required.

Further help and information on Dyslexia can be found here:




Epilepsy is a brain condition which causes a child or young person to suffer from seizures. Epilepsy can occur naturally in people, or as a result of brain injury. A seizure or epileptic fit, is where messages in the brain are not being relayed correctly. As a result, each seizure can be different and each person with Epilepsy can experience the seizures differently. Epilepsy can be managed with medication, but it can require extra support in school.

If the frequency of seizures has a direct impact on the child’s ability to learn at school, a special educational provision will be necessary. If external support and additional teaching is required, then a Statement of Special Educational Needs or an Education Health and Care Plan may be needed.

Having a detailed assessment of the impact of Epilepsy for the child should be done as early as possible. This can be done via an EHC needs assessment or a statutory assessment. Once this has been done, special educational provision should then be granted to ensure the child can remain in education.

Further Epilepsy information can be found here at these websites:

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Epilepsy/Pages/Introduction.aspx https://www.epilepsy.org.uk/

Tourette's Syndrome

Tourette’s syndrome is a condition which affects the central nervous system and brain. A child or young person with Tourette’s can involuntarily lose control of their speech and body movements. Support for Tourette’s syndrome includes behaviour therapy and sometimes language / speech therapy. Tourette’s syndrome is classed as being a special educational need.

As with most of the other types of special educational needs we have covered in this article, a statutory assessment or an EHC needs assessment will need to be conducted. Special educational provision should then be awarded to ensure the child or young person is able to remain in education.

Morel information on Tourette’s syndrome can be found here:



Visual Impairment

Visual Impairment is a term used to describe vision loss. A Visual Impairment can have a varied impact on a child’s ability to learn depending on how severe the condition is. In some cases special educational provision is required for the child to continue learning and remain in education. In some cases where hearing impairment is also present and significant, the child can obtain substantive special educational provision including specialist teaching and equipment.

If you are concerned that your child or young person is not receiving adequate special educational provision, or that the extent of their needs has been fully identified, it can be useful to secure legal advice about special educational needs.

Further information on Visual Impairment can be found here:


Read next: What support is available for SEN children in the UK

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