As a parent or caregiver, it’s important to be able to recognise the signs of special educational needs (SEN) in early childhood. Early intervention can make a significant difference in a child’s future academic and social success. As well as a better mental well-being as their needs can be met. We will discuss the potential signs of SEN in early childhood and why it’s crucial to identify and address these needs as soon as possible.
What are the signs of Special Educational Needs in early childhood?
- Delayed Milestones– Milestones are physical or developmental achievements that a child reaches at a particular age. These may include crawling, walking, talking, and social skills. Delayed milestones can sometimes be a sign of SEN. Every child develops at their own pace so this alone is not an indicator but worth noting.
- Communication Delays or difficulties – Communication is a critical aspect of early childhood development. If your child is struggling to communicate effectively. This may include difficulty understanding and/or using language, using gestures instead of words, or being unable to communicate needs or wants.
- Social Interactions– Early childhood is a time when children learn important social skills. This can include making and maintaining friendships, taking turns, and sharing toys. All children can struggle with these skills through their development, however with understanding most children will develop these skills with role models and imitating their peers. Children who find this area difficult may appear to be shy, withdrawn, overly boisterous and/or potentially uninterested in socialising.
- Learning Delays– SEN can impact your child’s ability to learn. They may struggle with subjects at school, reading and writing, or unable to learn new skills. There may be some delays in labelling object and sharing attention with others. This imitation and interaction stage can help children to develop their understanding of the world.
- Sensory differences– Children with SEN may experience sensory issues, such as being oversensitive to touch, sound, or light. They may avoid certain textures, noises, or activities, which can impact their ability to participate in daily activities.
- Behaviour challenges– Behaviour is not necessarily an indicator of SEND, especially If observed in insolation but behaviour is a language which may be used to communicate frustrations, lack of understanding, overwhelm and much more. We encourage you to be curious about behaviour while setting supportive and caring boundaries.
It’s important to keep in mind that these signs do not necessarily indicate that a child in your care has SEN. However, if you notice several of these signs there is no harm in researching further into this and connecting with professionals who can support you.
Why It’s Important to Address SEN in Early Childhood
Identifying and addressing SEN in early childhood is critical towards children’s future progress and outcomes. Early intervention can reduce the chance of mental health issues in later childhood. Studies have shown that children who receive early support have a higher chance of future academic and social success. By identifying and addressing SEN, you can ensure your child has the necessary support in place enabling them to develop the skills they need to progress. In addition, you can prevent difficulties in later childhood. This may include low self-esteem, behaviour problems, and academic struggles. If you feel your child is showcasing certain characteristics, it’s best to take the necessary action.
Identifying and addressing special educational needs in early childhood is essential for a child’s future academic and social success. It can prevent further difficulties down the line and ensure that your child receives the support they need. If you suspect that your child has SEN, we are here to support you. This can be an overwhelming time for your family; however, we have the resources to support you through this time.
Looking for support? Join our Unique Family Foundations Facebook Group, where we have a community of SEN families. We also host monthly Ask Me Anything Sessions discussing various SEN topics along with answering your unanswered questions.