Get a Tip
All tips > Help & support > education
>> Education <<
These tips have all been sent in by other parents, carers and professionals in the learning disability community. We hope they will give you plenty of ideas to try, but please remember Netbuddy is not responsible for the information provided or any of the activities suggested.
When my son was little he didn't show any interest in toys, and I had to help him develop a curiosity for learning. I'd pick up an object, like a leaf or a pebble and turn it around in my hands talking about it, encouraging him to look at it and feel it. Children with learning disabilities do learn, but they need to be guided.
Perspectives on Bullying and Difference
This book is a must-read for anyone in education. It examines the vulnerability of young people with disabilities or SEN to abuse in schools. The book integrates evidence from young people, parents, carers and practitioners with case studies, and demonstrates there is a lot that can be done in schools to reduce bullying. resources.ncb.org.uk
Calibre audio library
Calibre audio library is a national charity providing a subscription-free postal service of unabridged audio books for adults and children with sight problems, dyslexia or other disabilities, who cannot read print.
Some people might find my website for people who struggle with literacy useful: www.john-paul.org.uk The site uses Widgit symbols and has links to Makaton resources
Our daughter is autistic & struggles with social interactions. School have recently paired her with a child newly arrived from overseas for buddy work. This has brought out the best in my daughter who enjoys taking on a "teacher" role and now has a reason to converse and interact with classmates. Wonderful to see my daughter with a friend!
Photo albums are fantastic for sharing photos and comments with school. My son's teacher would take photos during the week, add them to the slot-in pages and record a message about what my son had been up to in the week. Then we returned it the following week with our news from the weekend.
Draw up a chart of your child's requirements and all available placements. A simple checklist of ticks and crosses against each placement should help you determine the best place to meet your child's needs. This is particularly helpful as evidence when appealing LEA decisions.
Something to chew onWe just couldn’t get Nick to focus at school until an OT tried using chewing gum. The gum satisfies his sensory needs leaving him free to focus on his lessons – we had to get special permission from his teachers for this!
Tell it to the puppet!Our daughter (who has Down's Syndrome) seemed to be randomly making up the words for weeks until I used a puppet to read the words wrongly. She then had no problem reading every word correctly. She obviously hadn't been motivated to let me know this until the puppet needed teaching!
Getting started with statements
'Special Educational Needs: Getting Started with Statements' is a parent-to-parent guide to getting your child the help they need. Written by the founder of the Special Needs Jungle website, Tania Tirraoro, who is herself a parent. It is available to buy on Amazon : Order here
Multi-sensory storytelling bag books Stefani loves them so do I. You can make your own or buy them from (alternatively we borrow from school) www.bagbooks.org
Epilepsy - a guide for teachers
Asperger Syndrome in the Inclusive Classroom
This is an excellent book for teachers, explaining the particular difficulties a child with Asperger Syndrome may have in school. It covers background information on the condition and discusses all aspects of the school day. Secondary school is particularly well covered. Read more
Equality Act guide
A free simple guide to the Equality Act for parents of children with disabilities in education is available to download from the Inclusive Choice Consultancy website (which was set up by a parent). http://www.inclusivechoice.com/
Excluded? Talk to Ipsea
If your child has ever been excluded from school during their assessment process, IPSEA have produced a free guide to help you take action. www.ipsea.org.uk
The Portage Service
I would definitely recommend the Portage Service – a home-visiting educational service for pre-school children with additional support needs. Excellent sensory help at a very early age. Our area allows parents to make a self referral, but ask your Health Visitor or GP. www.portage.org.uk
Alfie.orgAlfie.org is a national campaigning and sharing network led by disabled people, which campaigns for the rights of disabled learners to have access to mainstream education.
Work and training opportunities for young people in Worcestershire
Do you live in this area and need training and/or work for a young person. Have a look at Where Next Association who have garden centres, garden machinery repair shops, packing and woodwork factories plus training facilities. May be just what he/she is looking for - Where Next Association
Parents for inclusion
Parents for inclusion is a support site run for parents by parents who have children with disabilities and are committed to their inclusion in mainstream education. www.parentsforinclusion.org
complexld.ssatrust.org.uk is a website for supporting and engaging children and young people with Complex Learning Difficulties and Disabilities. It is focused on education and aimed at education practioners, but the briefing packs under 'Project Resources' on the site provide information on 10 key 'diagnoses' such as autism, mental health, attachment that may also help families in the home.
IPSEAIPSEA is a registered charity offering free and independent advice to parents of children with special educational needs. Advice includes: local authorities’ legal duties to assess and provide for children with special educational needs; exclusions of children with special needs/disabilities; actions or inaction by local authorities and/or schools which discriminate against children with disabilities. www.ipsea.org.uk
Education & FASDThe FASD Trust produces a leaflet aimed at teachers, but also of value to parents, called 'Education and the Child affected by FASD' (Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders). It explains some of the common difficulties experienced by a child affected by FASD in school and helpful hints for teachers. FASD
Stick to the facts
Always use facts rather than emotions to guide your arguments in an IEP. Sometimes, when a parent loses control of their emotions that can interfere with their ability to be an effective advocate for their child.
ACE adviceACE is an independent national advice centre for parents, providing independent expert advice and to promote fairness and opportunity in education for disabled children and children with special educational needs. www.ace-ed.org.uk
Reward systemsWhen using reward systems with autistic children, it is important to be aware of their particular learning style. Children on the autism spectrum think differently. They are unable to see our perspective so we have to make the effort to see theirs.
Best practice DVD about transition, mainly aimed at head-teachers, available from Dimensions. For more info: firstname.lastname@example.org Dimensions
You Can Learn it blog
I've set up a blog to share some ideas for literacy activities with web-based applications. Many of our students have learning disabilities and the activities make learning fun, so the students engage easily. youcanlearnit-sheila.blogspot.com
Down Syndrome Education
Down Syndrome Education International is a UK-based charity that seeks to improve education for people with Down's syndrome. They provide excellent information and advice to families and professionals.
I home educate my daughter, who has Down`s syndrome. You can link to others who are doing this through groups such as 'HE-DS' which is an internet group with an annual weekend gathering, run for families who are home educating a child with Down`s syndrome. To find out more, scroll down this page: oakwellbarns.co.uk/
A lot of people with autism are hypersensitive, so classrooms should be clear environments with no distractions – white walls if possible. Also try to give autistic people a lot of space around them. Many SEN children like stability and hate change too, so letting them in the same place is important.
Autistic people may have little awareness of time, so it doesn't make sense to say 'maths, then after that cooking' as they may have little perception of 'this after that'. So clear timetables arranged vertically work best.
smiley1sipThere are some great learning tools you can get as apps for the ipod. My students' favourites are "Adventure" and Lunch box". If your child enjoys by watching video clips, try the Functional Skills System apps, such as "Describing" "Dress" "Communication Skills" "Personal" and "Manners"
AutsimbuddyWe really love www.autismbuddy.com at AuKids because it has tonnes of specialist resources that you can use at home or at school. What's really clever is that you either buy them or instantly download them for a cheaper price.
Bob the Builder's Birthday Cake is just one of the free online games you can download from HelpKidzLearn. Really good fun and educational too. www.helpkidzlearn.com
NAS Education Advocacy tips
The National Autistic Society offers Education Advocacy tips and advice for parents who want to get an appropriate education for their child with autism or Asperger syndrome. NAS
SEN guide from Teachernet
Teachernet has an SEN guide for parents and carers that you can download from their website. www.teachernet.gov.uk/
Check your statmentI was told to get a statement in place before my son started full time education. Wise words! I would also add never accept anything on the statement that is ambiguous. If there is any room for services to remove help they will. I had qualified head teachers check over the statements before I accepted anything.
All my students love to use cameras. Once we've captured some shots, we can use them with labels around the class or create our own comic strips. I use Comic Life with many of my groups. It's really handy for Social Stories too.
Fiddling in class
Fiddling with something – like bricks or lego, or even a magazine – often calms people with challenging behaviours and anxieties. If you have a student like this, let them fiddle with something in class. It may help!
Got a tip to add to this page? Tell us