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Education - early intervention in SEN

Education - early intervention in SEN - Early intervention...

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Early intervention can be pinpointed as one of the most pivotal contemporary issues within childhood education and development. The profound notion that ‘children are our future’ illustrates the need for intervention at the earliest possible stage. In this essay, I will discuss both the strengths and weaknesses of early professional support as essential for children with special educational needs (SEN) to maximise their potential. Attention will briefly be paid to the legal context, and how legislation and government policies continually acknowledge that early and appropriate intervention ‘improves the prospects for children with special educational needs’ (Roffey, 1999: 15). I will draw upon the ‘Every Child Matters’ scheme currently in place, and assess the implications for SEN children, their families, and professionals, considering how early intervention is incorporated and implemented. I will continue in discussing the implications of early diagnosis for parents and families, focusing upon: the parental process of acceptance; the practical and emotional consequences for siblings; and the difficulties and trauma faced by the child with SEN. Reference will be made to the lengthy and problematic process of Statementing, and how practical hindrances affect the appropriation of early intervention. Labelling will also be referred to in both its negative and positive usage. Finally, the strengths of early diagnosis and intervention will be asserted, and reinforced with discussion and assessment of the Portage system, which provides an effective model of visit-based support to families of SEN children. It is crucial, in the context of early intervention, to look at ‘needs’ in a developmental sense. A useful approach is that of Maslow and his hierarchy of needs ( Figure 1 ):
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Figure 1: Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs ( http://beststudentviolins.com/adolescence.html ) Although Maslow’s model identifies very basic needs, Littleboy et al state that ‘to attain our full potential all these needs have to be met’ (Littleboy et al, 2000:32). In considering special educational needs, therefore, Maslow’s model acts as foundation to demonstrate that SEN children have additional needs which, professionals believe, must be identified as early as possible in order for intervention to be effectively put in place. It is fundamental that the complexity in defining SEN is taken into consideration before embarking on further discussion. The Government's Department for Children, Schools and Families defines children with SEN as having ‘learning difficulties or disabilities which make it harder for them to learn or access education than most other children of the same age’ ( http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/index.htm ). Furthermore, the 2005 Disability Discrimination Act encompasses SEN within its broad definition of disability as, ‘someone who has a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on his or her ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities’ ( http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/DisabledPeople/RightsAndObligations/DisabilityRights/
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