How Teachers Can Support Students With Special Educational Needs

The number of children with special educational needs (SEN) has increased dramatically over recent years. In England alone, SEN affects around 3% of schoolchildren. This means that around 300,000 children are identified as having SEN every year. This blog talks about How Teachers Can Support Students With Special Educational Needs

Teachers play a vital role in supporting these children and their families. They can provide a safe environment where children can develop at their full potential. However, they often struggle to identify the signs of SEN and lack confidence in their ability to support pupils with additional needs.

Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND)

Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) is an umbrella term for any disability that affects a child’s ability to access education. It includes conditions like autism, ADHD, dyslexia, dyscalculia, dyspraxia, and others. These conditions affect a child’s development, behavior, communication skills, concentration, and memory. A child may need extra help at school because of their condition. For example, a child with dyspraxia might struggle with handwriting. Or a child with ADHD might not pay enough attention during lessons.

There are many different types of support for children with SEND. Some schools offer specialist teachers, while others provide additional support through teaching assistants, learning mentors, speech and language therapists, occupational therapists, and psychologists.

Every child or young person may have a learning difficulty or disability. Most will overcome these difficulties with support from teachers and parents. However, some children may have to SEND due to a medical condition or disability. Others may have to SEND without an official diagnosis or disability.

Every child is different, and therefore, your teaching style will vary depending on what type of student you’re working with. To help you succeed at teaching special needs children in general, however, there are several key points to keep in mind. 

  1. Remember that all children need to learn differently
  2. Understand that not everyone learns the same way
  3. Teach them using a variety of techniques
  4. Be patient with yourself and others
  5. Always be willing to try something new

Four Main Areas Where Students Might Need Help

  • Communication & Interaction Needs
  • Learning & Behavior
  • Physical Development & Health
  • Social & Emotional Wellbeing

Some children and young people may need help in more than one area. Here are some tips for teachers to support students with special educational needs.

Organized Structure

The structure is very important for special education students. It helps them stay focused and calm. It can also help you as a special education instructor. The structure is even more important if you have one student to manage. You should try to stick to a daily routine as best as possible. Staying organized will help you and your students stay calm and focused.

It is important to keep things simple when working with children with special needs. Keep projects short and sweet. If you try to make something too complicated, you will confuse your child, adding to the challenges he/she is already facing.


As a teacher, you will need to work closely with all of your student’s teachers, including their general education teachers, therapists, and parents. You should also keep in touch with them yourself. If you’re not communicating with everyone, your student won’t get the help he needs.

Individual Educational Plans (IEPS)

As a Special Education Teacher, you may be responsible for creating Individual Educational Plans (IEPS) for students. 

Every child is different. Each child should be treated as an individual, not just because of their disability but also because of their personality, interests, strengths, weaknesses, and other factors. When working with children with disabilities, it is important to remember that every child is unique. You will need to understand what motivates them, how they learn best, and how to help them reach their full potential.

Maintaining A Positive Environment

Maintaining a positive attitude when working with children with disabilities is extremely important. There will be times when you feel frustrated, discouraged, or even angry. These feelings are normal, but it is important not to let them get the best of you.

Suggested – Five tips for teachers to create a positive environment in the classroom.

If you allow yourself to become negative, you may lose sight of what is important. Instead, focus on the positives. You can help your students succeed by encouraging them to try new things, keep trying if something doesn’t work out, and enjoy themselves.

Be Ready To Try Different Teaching Approaches For Special Educational Needs of Students

Children with special needs may benefit from different teaching approaches. For example, if a child has difficulty reading, visual aids could help them understand what they read. If a child has trouble writing, using a whiteboard might help them express themselves.

In addition, children with autism spectrum disorder often struggle with social interactions, so providing opportunities for peer interaction could be beneficial.

Provide A Sense Of Safety

Educators can help children with special needs by providing them with a sense of safety, belongingness, and acceptance. By doing this, teachers can provide children with an opportunity to thrive. For example, children with special needs often struggle academically because they lack social skills.

If they feel unsafe, they may become anxious and withdrawn. When they feel isolated, they may not participate in class. If they feel like they are different, they may stop trying.

Create A Relaxing Online Space

Another strategy that schools can implement is to create an online space for students who may be struggling emotionally or academically. For example, one school psychologist in the Thrive School Psychologist community created an online classroom full of calming tools for children who need a break from stress, mindfulness activities, movement breaks, or self-regulation tools to use when feeling overwhelmed.

Teachers could offer this to students who appear to be struggling and proactively prevent them from becoming overwhelmed in the first place.

Final Thoughts

Students with disabilities need a lot of support. Unfortunately, their teachers may not always understand what they need and are often not given the tools to help them succeed. Building a team of support for students with special needs means working together to create a plan to help them reach their full potential. This includes collaborating with parents, teachers, administrators, counselors, therapists, social workers, and others.

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