There are many different types of professionals who can offer support to children who are not following the expected pattern of development, the support is usually coordinated by the schools, SENCO (Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator). If a child starts school with a disability the SENCO will have been informed by the child’s parents prior to the child starting. The child may already be receiving support from a number of professionals. For example a child with a physical disability may well be receiving treatment from a physiotherapist, with exercises given to strengthen their gross motor skills. The physiotherapist will co-ordinate with the SENCO as to the needs of the child and advise the school on what sort of support is needed in school to encourage development.
Whist at school if a teacher becomes concerned about the development pattern of a child, they would inform the SENCO who is responsible for the identification of special needs. The SENCO would in turn speak to the child’s parents about their child’s development, and depending on the area of development concerned, suggest an assessment by an outside professional. The professional would in turn give the SENCO advice as to how the child should be supported in school in order to encourage development, this may involve the school providing support or it may involve the professional giving direct support. It is important that any needs are identified so that the correct support/intervention is given in order to prevent the development delay getting worse and spreading to other areas of the child’s development. Some of the interventions used are explained below.
A physiotherapist would support a child with physical impairments, giving them exercises to develop their gross motor skills. The school would be advised on how to make the environment suitable for the child depending of their level of need. For example providing heavy, stable furniture and equipment to ensure things are not easily knocked over, this may involve sticking paper, mixing bowls to the table/floor so they remain secure and are not knocked over. Physical exercises may also be given for the child to do during the school day. By following the professional’s advice it enables the child to be as independent as possible and promotes self confidence.
An occupational therapist helps children develop their fine motor skills, enabling them to learn skills and participate in everyday activities. A child, will practice, writing, cutting and other fine motor skills, exercises may be given to develop these skills. They also help daily life skills such as feeding and dressing. If the strength and skills cannot be improved other alternatives are developed to allow the child to carry out daily activities as independently as possible, encouraging independence and therefore promoting development. The occupational therapist will also assess the child’s need for equipment such as wheelchairs, hearing aids and bathing devices.
Speech and Language Therapist
A speech and language therapist can help develop a child’s language skills. They can suggest a series of exercises for a child for example to strengthen weak muscles to improve the clarity of speech. If a child has a hearing impairment they maybe taught sign language or Makaton enabling them to communicate with others. They can advise the school to provide suitable equipment for example providing toys that make a lot of noise so that children can feel the vibrations even if they cannot hear the sound. The child may need to be seated at the front of the class so they can clearly hear what the teacher is saying. The school will need to be advised on how to look after hearing aids so they are not lost or damaged. The early intervention of...