Are there different types of SEND?

The SEND code of practice: 0-25 years sets out four main areas of special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

These are:

  • communication and interaction needs
  • cognition and learning difficulties
  • social, emotional and mental health difficulties
  • sensory and physical needs.

Some children and young people may have SEND in more than one of these areas, but for most children with SEND, they will attend their local, mainstream school.

Communication and interaction needs

Children and young people with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) might:

  • struggle to talk or say what they want to
  • find it hard to understand what other people are saying
  • find conversations and play confusing or challenging.

Cognition and learning difficulties

Children and young people might:

  • learn at a slower pace than others
  • find the curriculum difficult
  • struggle with organisation and memory
  • have a specific difficulty, for example, in literacy or numeracy.

Social, emotional and mental health difficulties

Children and young people might:

  • find relationships difficult
  • appear withdrawn or isolated
  • behave in ways that affect their learning, for example, by being disruptive
  • do things that impact on their health and wellbeing.

Sensory and physical needs

Children and young people might have a disability, such as:

  • a visual impairment (VI)
  • a hearing impairment (HI)
  • a physical difficulty.

These difficulties can be age-related and may fluctuate over time, meaning they:

  • may find it hard to access a school because of their disability
  • might need extra support or specialist equipment.

Children and young people with multi-sensory impairment (MSI) have a combination of vision and hearing difficulties.

Information on how to provide services for deafblind children and young people is available through the 'Care and support for deafblind children and adults guidance' published by the Department of Health.

Other medically-diagnosed disabilities

Some children and young people have other medically-diagnosed disabilities which may impact upon their learning.

Support for parents, carers and young people for these disabilities is available from the local health services and other agencies.