Special Needs Glossary

Keeping up with all the jargon, abbreviations and acronyms can be confusing, so here is a glossary of some that you may come across.



Additional Needs

Term used within school for needs presented by pupils that cannot be met by universal classroom teaching.


Attention Deficit Disorder

A medical diagnosis of a specific learning difficulty where behaviours typically shown are exceptionally low concentration span, poor working memory, daydreaming and slower thing through of concepts and questions.


Attention Deficit and Hyperactive Disorder

A medical diagnosis where behaviours typically show as low concentration span, poor working memory, limited organisational skills and extreme impulsivity.


Autistic Spectrum Disorder/Condition

A medical diagnosis of a condition that may include difficulties with understanding how other people feel, fixated/literal thinking, limited ability to interpret language, limited ability to engage in a variety of social situations/experiences.


Behavioural, Emotional and Social difficulties presenting as exceptional limitations in an ability to recognise and manage emotions linked in with a persistent inability to engage constructively in a variety of social situations/experiences.


Communication and Autism Team- an outside agency that work with children and families who are currently in the process of, or have been, identified as having Autism.


Communication and Interaction – a classification of Special Educational Need relating to difficulties in interacting with people and the outside world as well as other communication issues.


Cognition and Learning – a classification of Special Educational Need relating to difficulties in learning new information, applying it to other areas and remembering previously learnt knowledge and skills.


Code of Practice – this is the statutory guidance for organisations who work with and support children and young people with Special Educational Needs between the ages of 0-25 years old.

Dyslexic Tendencies

A specific learning difficulty which may present itself in one or more of the main areas of literacy – reading and spelling most often. Pupils will have difficulties with working memory and often organisational skills. Children of all ability levels may have dyslexia.


A specific learning difficulty based around the brain’s transmission of signals that control gross and fine motor skills – typically affecting the planning movements and coordination. Can also impact on language development.


A specific learning difficulty typically presenting itself in one or more of the main areas of maths. Often children struggle with the basic concepts such as telling the time, measuring and estimating things such as temperature or speed.


English as an Additional Language

EHC Plan

Education and Health Care Plan – this is the statutory plan of provision for children and young people with SEN that has replaced Statements. It draws together education, health and social care services with an aim to support children and young people with SEN in all their needs. In order to obtain an EHC plan, parents, professionals or young people must make a request to SENAR. Guidance on this can be found atwww.mycareinbirmingham.org.uk


Educational Psychologist


Hearing Impaired – Difficulties based on fully or partially reduced functioning in one or both ear’s ability to detect and/or process sounds.


Individual Behaviour Plan


Individual Education Plan


Additional support/teaching to address a knowledge/skills gap.

Irlen Syndrome

A specific learning difficulty – commonly lined with Dyslexic Tendencies 0 that affects the way the brain processes visual information. This typically presents itself as an inability to read fluently and with ease, sensitivity to light and sensitivity to colour combinations.


Individual Target Plan

Local Offer

Every council is, by law, required to publish the services they can provide to children and adults with SEN.

Birmingham’s local offer can be accessed atwww.mycareinbirmingham.org.uk


Moderate Learning Difficulties

Definitions can vary, a common understanding that there must be substantial difficulties (3+ below standard progress) in two or more of the following areas: literacy, numeracy, speech and language, social skills, memory, concentration.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder

A psychological condition presenting itself as an ongoing pattern of disobedient, hostile, defiant and deliberately subversive behaviour towards figures of authority which goes beyond the bounds of normal childhood behaviour.


Physical Difficulties Support Service


Pupils and School Support


A meeting held three times a year to discuss a child’s progress. This could be at parent’s evening or at any time throughout the year with the SEN team.

School Offer

Every school is, by law, required to publish details of what the school can offer children with SEN.


Social, Emotional and Mental Health


Special Educational Needs - Refers to the needs present by pupils who require further support with their learning and social skills.


Special Educational Needs Coordinator


Special Educational Needs Assessment and Review team


Speech, Language and Communication Needs – a range of specific learning difficulties related to all aspects of communication in children and young people. These can include difficulties with fluency, forming sounds and words, formulating sentences, understanding what others say and using language socially and for learning.


Specific Learning Difficulties – an umbrella term to cover a wide range of identifiable learning difficulties such as dyslexia, dyscalculia, ADHD.


Sensory and/or Physical Needs


A statutory declaration of a child’s special educational needs. This must be applied granted by SENAR on the request of parents or professions. Statements can no longer be applied for and are being replaced by EHC plans over a staggered period of time.


Teaching Assistant


Visual Impairment – difficulties based around fully or partially reduced function in one or both eye’s ability to detect and/or process images.