What can I do if I think my child has a special educational need or disability (SEND)?

If you think your child has a special educational need or disability (SEND) and your child is of pre-school age, talk to your health visitor, doctor or portage worker, where appropriate.

If your child is already attending or about to start a pre-school, such as a private day nursery, playgroup or nursery school, discuss your concerns with the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO). If your child is under 5 and has been identified as needing specialist provision, the health service will inform us as well as giving you information about support services.

If your child is attending school, talk to their teacher, the SENCO or the Head Teacher.

Whatever the age of your child, you can contact the SEND Information Advice and Support Service for impartial advice.

What can I do to help?

You are central to the experiences your child has. You can help your child by involving them in everyday things. It may seem obvious but this could really help them to learn. For example you could:

  • share books with each other
  • talk and listen to each other
  • involve them in family activities and encourage them to take on responsibility for doing certain jobs around the house
  • play games to help develop good social relationships and self-confidence

Remember to be realistic with your expectations on your child. It is very important that you encourage and praise your child for what they achieve.

You can also help your child by working as a partner in their education. For example you should:

  • Keep in regular contact with the early years setting or school and discuss how you can support your child's learning.
  • Always contact the early years setting or school if you have any concerns or questions about your child's education.
  • Ask for an explanation if you are unsure about what people are saying.
  • Attend parents’ evenings, concerts, class assemblies etc whenever possible – let your child know you are interested in what they are doing.

Share all the relevant information with your child's pre-school or school and other professionals involved, after all, you know your child better than anyone.

You could also:

  • Find out as much as you can about the concerns that you have, and who can help.
  • Encourage your child to take part in activities/clubs outside of the normal curriculum.
  • Look for information about services on our Local Offer.
  • Look at the school's SEN Information Report on their website. This will tell you how the school identifies and meets meet children's special educational needs.
  • Ask for support and advice.

Other related information





Durham County Council's Families Information Service does not promote nor endorse the services advertised on this website. Anyone seeking to use/access such services does so at their own risk and may make all appropriate enquiries about fitness for purpose and suitability to meet their needs.
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