Children with additional needs

Children with special educational needs/additional learning needs, may have particularly suffered with any changes and uncertainty in their routines during the pandemic and again now as we start to ‘live with coronavirus’ and routines start to return to ‘normal’. On this page you'll find information and ideas to consider, as well as links to organisations who can offer expert advice and support in their specialist fields.

Supporting an autistic child

Be aware that an autistic child may not show their distress during childcare or at school – be sure to really listen to what parents are experiencing with their child at home, as this is usually the ‘safe place’ where the child can let go. Support services that families usually access may have stopped during lockdown – talk with parents about how their services have reduced and any impact that has had on their child’s feelings.

If a child sees your setting as a safe place for them to express their worry and frustration, they will need understanding, connection and reassurance. Act for Autism is an organisation founded by Tessa Morton and Jane Gurnett, who say that there can be a tendency to look at behaviours – at aggression, defiance and withdrawal. Instead, build a secure base for a child with autism to express their needs and feelings.

They talk about the Three C pathway:

  • Connect – Establish an empathetic connection
  • Calm – Create a safe space, use strategies to reduce anxiety
  • Communicate – Build a person-centred, secure base for communication of feelings and needs

Specialist organisations

Act for Autism

National Autistic Society

Autism Wales / Awtistiaeth Cymru

Autism Education Trust 

PACEY support

To find out more about autism, including real life stories and free resources, visit our Autism Spotlight page.

Supporting children with dyslexia

If you care for school-aged children, you may find that children with dyslexia have a strong reaction to life beyond lockdown. Some children with dyslexia may have found refuge in the flexibility of home-schooling and the reduction in time pressure, and may feel anxious about the return to school. Others may have really struggled with the expectations of remote learning, such as working on a computer for long periods of time.

Educational advisory teacher Carol Allen talks about the many ways in which anxiety can present itself, including inattention and restlessness, and physical illness such as feeling sick or having a head ache. Look out for signs of anxiety and explore ways to support the children at your setting after school. Allen emphasises the benefits of nature –using natural sounds, images and feelings – the sound of waves crashing on the shore, the feeling sand between their toes; the freedom of stomping outside to explore muddy woods.

Specialist organisations

British Dyslexia Association

Dyslexia Assist

Helen Arkell Dyslexia Charity