SEND Terminology

The terminology used in the world of SEND can sometimes be confusing. On this page we will try to give clear and simple definitions of the most commonly used terminology and acronyms. The list will evolve over time. If you have any suggestions for any future additions to the list please let us know by sending us your feedback.

ADD - Attention Deficit Disorder: a neurological disorder that causes a range of behaviour problems such as difficulty attending to instruction, focusing on schoolwork, keeping up with set tasks, following instructions, completing tasks and social interaction.

ADHD - Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: a mental health disorder that can cause above-normal levels of hyperactive and impulsive behaviours. People with ADHD may also have trouble focusing their attention on a single task or sitting still for long periods of time. Both adults and children can have ADHD.

Area SENCOEarly Years Area SENCOs are Advisory Teachers with a high level of experience of working with young children with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) and their families.

Assessment - The process that identifies a person's special educational needs as well their strengths. An assessment is a joint enterprise involving parents, the young person and professionals to identify any provision that is needed to meet any identified special educational needs so as to achieve agreed outcomes.

AutismA term used to describe a developmental condition where people have difficulties understanding and interacting with others as well as difficulties interpreting inputs from the world around them.

BSL - British Sign Language. A manual language used by Deaf people.

CAMHS - Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service. A service that provides support and interventions for young people with mental health difficulties. In Sandwell the service is delivered by the Black Country Healthcare NHS Trust. You can find more details on the Mental Health page of the Local Offer.

CCG - Clinical Commissioning Groups commission most of the hospital and community NHS services in the local areas for which they are responsible. Commissioning involves deciding what services are needed for diverse local populations, and ensuring that they are provided.

Cerebral Palsy - Cerebral palsy is the name for a group of lifelong conditions that affect movement and co-ordination. It's caused by a problem with the brain that develops before, during or soon after birth.

CAM - Community Assessment Meeting. The meeting at which a decision is made as to whether a child's special educational needs are significant enough to start an assessment for an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP). A CAM is usually called by a school and is attended by parents, professionals and the child/young person

Developmental Delay - A developmental delay refers to a child who has not gained the developmental skills expected of him or her, compared to others of the same age. Delays may occur in the areas of motor function, speech and language, cognitive, play, and social skills.

DfE - The Department for Education. The department of government that oversees schools and colleges. It is also responsible for government policy relating to special educational needs.

Dyscalculiaa learning difficulty that impairs an individual's ability to learn number-related concepts, perform accurate mathematical calculations, reason and problem solve, and perform other basic mathematical skills.

Dysgraphiaa learning difficulty that affects children and adults, and interferes with practically all aspects of the writing process, including spelling, legibility, word spacing and sizing, and expression.

Dyslexia - a common type of learning difficulty that can cause problems with reading, writing and spelling.

Dyspraxia - is a condition affecting physical co-ordination. It causes a child to perform less well than expected in daily activities for their age, and appear to move clumsily.

ECP - Educational and Child Psychologist

EHCP - Education Health and Care Plan. An education, health and care plan is for children and young people aged up to 25 who need more support than is available through special educational needs support. EHC plans identify educational, health and social needs and set out the additional support to meet those needs and to achieve specified outcomes.

Learning Disability - Learning disability is an umbrella term for lots of different conditions. It is a brain condition, not a disease, and affects a person’s intellectual ability. A person with a learning disability is likely to find learning skills difficult and have some developmental delays. They may find understanding information and the world around them, more difficult than other people.

Local Offer - A Local Offer gives children and young people with special educational needs or disabilities and their families information about what support services the local authority think will be available in their local area. There are statutory requirements for what must appear in a Local Offer and it has its own set of web pages.

Mediation - Mediation is a less formal way of trying to settle a dispute between parents and the LA. It involves a meeting between youparents, the LA and an independent mediator who will try to help you reach agreement on the points of dispute. In relation to the process for issuing an Education, Health and Care Plan mediation must be attempted before there is any appeal to a SEND Tribunal

Occupational Therapist - also knowwn as an OT, an occupational therapist's job role is to help people of all ages overcome the effects of disability caused by illness, ageing or accident so that they can carry out everyday tasks or occupations. An occupational therapist will consider all of the patient's needs - physical, psychological, social and environmental.

Paediatrician - A medical consultant who specialises in the health needs of children and young people

Personal Assistant - A support worker who helps a disabled person undertake everyday tasks. They are usually provided for a specific number of hours per week through a statutory social care assessment.

Personal Budget - A sum of money paid directly to a disabled person or their family to allow them to purchase the services they need. Personal budgets are available in the areas of social care, health and education following a statutory assessment.

Physiotherapist - Physiotherapists help people affected by injury, illness or disability through movement and exercise, manual therapy, education and advice.

SEMH - Social Emotional and Mental Health. One of the four headline categories of special educational need.

SENCO - Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator. By law every school must have a SENCO who is responsible for how the school meets the needs of any pupil who has special educational needs

SEND - Special Educational Needs and Disability. The term can be divided into 4 broad categories:

  • Cognition and Learning
  • Communication and Interaction
  • Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH)
  • Physical and Sensory

The term does have a legal definition; more details of this and other information can be found in the SEND Code of Practice

SENDIASS - Special Educational Needs and Disability Information Advice and Support Service. The service (in every local authority) which gives information, advice and support to families of children with special educational needs. It can also support families in their dealings with the local authority and other professionals.

SEN Information Report - Every school must produce an SEN Information Report which sets out in detail how it meets the needs of all pupils in the school with special educational needs. The report must be published on the school's website.

Short Breaks - Opportunities for carers to take a break from their caring responsibilities. Every local authority is required to publish a short break offer which details how the services it provides allows carers to take sufficient breaks from caring for a disabled child/young person.

Speech and Language Therapist - Speech and language therapists provide treatment, support and care for children and adults who have difficulties (for physical or psychological reasons) with communication, eating, drinking and swallowing.

SpLD - Specific Learning Difficulty - An umbrella term used to describe a number of learning difficulties including dyslexia, ADD, ADHD, dyscalculia, dyspraxia and dysgraphia

Young Carer - You're a young carer if you're under 18 and help to look after a relative with a disability, illness, mental health condition, or drug or alcohol problem. Find out more about support for young carers at Sandwell Young Carers.

Page last reviewed: 06/06/2023


Get in touch with us

Family Information Service
Back to top