Glossary of Terms

Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo)

A SENCo, or special educational needs co-ordinator, is the school teacher who is responsible for assessing, planning and monitoring the progress of children with special needs / SEN

Educational Psychologist

Educational psychology is the art of diagnosing the reasons for a child’s behaviour or learning difficulties.

In addition to knowledge of specific difficulties that affect learning, for example dyslexia or autism, they can help by suggesting effective teaching and learning approaches.

Educational psychologists study children of all ages and how they learn. While investigating how children process emotional, social and cognitive stimuli, they make assessments based on the child’s reactions to stimuli. They use this analysis to identify learning, social and behavioural issues that impede children’s learning.

Speech and language therapist (SaLT)

Communication is central to the learning process – it is the main tool for teaching, learning and building relationships. A child who is experiencing any sort of difficulty in this area, perhaps having trouble in making themselves understood, embarrassment over a speech impediment, or difficulty understanding social nuances, is likely to find not only lessons, but social interaction, difficult.

Physiotherapist

Many children with SEN and associated physiotherapy needs will have some issue with the way the network of ‘wires’ in their brain connects up.

If a child’s brain is not as successful at reinforcing the most successful neural pathways, messages will travel along extended routes, increasing the time for processing, or information may not reach the required destination or may go to the wrong destination. Problems with this sort of development include developmental co-ordination disorder and dyspraxia.

These children have more difficulty adapting their behaviour appropriately and thus may have difficulties with academic learning. Fortunately the brain has the capacity to re-route connections, and physiotherapy (like occupational therapy) can help this in various ways.

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Occupational therapist

An occupational therapist can provide therapy and specialist equipment to help your child manage or improve specific difficulties. This can range from exercises to help with handwriting, through to teaching basic tasks such as brushing their teeth to children with developmental delay. The goal is to maximise a child’s potential ability and increase independence.

Orthoptist

Orthoptists are specially trained in how the eyes work as a pair, how the eyes are controlled and how vision is used. A large proportion of orthoptic work is concerned with squints (lazy eye) and the visual development of young children. Orthoptists have a detailed knowledge of the eye and the muscle system which controls the eyes and can often help children with learning difficulties, particularly dyslexia and dyspraxia.