Click on a letter below to find a term in the glossary.

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See Accident and Emergency.


See Alternative and Augmentative Communication.


See Applied Behaviour Analysis


Could refer to:

  • Acquired Brain Injury
  • Auditory Brainstem Implants


See Absence Seizure.

Absence Seizure (AbsSeiz)

Absence seizures are lapses of awareness, sometimes with staring. They begin and end abruptly, lasting only a few seconds. More common in children. Absence seizures can be so brief that they sometimes are not detected for months.


A state-funded school in England that is directly funded by the Department for Education, through the Education Funding Agency. Academies are self-governing and independent of local authority control.

Academy Special School

Independently managed special school set up by sponsors from business, faith or voluntary groups in partnership with the Department for Education and the local authority.

Accident and Emergency (A&E)

A medical treatment facility specializing in emergency medicine, and the acute care of patients who present without prior appointment - either by their own means or by that of an ambulance. Usually found in a hospital or other primary care centre.


See Assessment Coordination Meeting.

Acquired Brain Injury (ABI)

Describes both traumatic and non-traumatic brain injury.

Acquired Profound Hearing Loss

See Deafened.


See Attention Deficit Disorder.


See Addison’s Disease.

Addison’s Disease

A disease characterised by progressive anaemia, low blood pressure, great weakness, and bronze discoloration of the skin. It is caused by inadequate secretion of hormones by the adrenal glands.


See Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

Adrenal Insuff

See Adrenal Insufficiency.

Adrenal Insufficiency

A condition in which the adrenal glands do not produce adequate amounts of steroid hormones. Linked to Addison’s Disease.


Somebody who acts or intercedes on behalf of another. Someone who can help ensure that a person is listened to, and that their rights, concerns and needs are acted upon.


See Ankle Foot Orthotic.

Age Weighted Pupil Unit (AWPU)

The sum of money allocated to the school for each pupil according to age.


See Human Immunodeficiency Virus & Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.


See Auditory Integration Training.


Adverse reaction to a normally harmless substance.

Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC)

Describes the different methods that can be used to help people with disabilities communicate with others. As the term suggests, these methods can be used as an alternative to speech or to supplement it.


The vision in one eye does not develop fully (also know as lazy eye).


See Iron Deficiency Anaemia (FeDeficiency).


Ensures child is anaesthetised (asleep) and pain free during surgery or invasive procedures


Very severe allergic reaction causing breathing difficulties - immediate treatment is required and the patient may already carry an 'epipen'.

Ankle Foot Orthotic (AFO)

A brace that surrounds the ankle and part of the foot. AFOs are L-shaped and are externally applied to the leg and foot. They can be constructed from metal, plastic, leather, synthetic fabrics, or any combination.

Annual Review (AR)

The review of an Education Health Care plan which the local authority must make as a minimum every twelve months.

Anorexia Nervosa

A serious mental illness where people aim to keep their body weight low by dieting, vomiting, using laxatives or excessively exercising. They often have a distorted image of themselves, thinking that they're overweight when they're not.


See Anxiety Disorders.

Anxiety Disorders (AnxietyDis)

Anxiety disorders are a category of mental disorders characterized by feelings of anxiety and fear. These feelings may cause physical symptoms, such as a racing heart and shakiness. There are a number of anxiety disorders, including (but not limited to) generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and social anxiety disorder (social phobia).


Aphasia is the inability to express thoughts in words, or the inability to understand thoughts expressed in the spoken or written words of others.

Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA)

The process of systematically applying interventions based upon the principles of learning theory to improve socially significant behaviours to a meaningful degree, and to demonstrate that the interventions employed are responsible for the improvement of behaviour. Also known as Behaviour Modification.


An appointee is someone who acts on another person’s behalf in all social security matters.


A motor disorder that affects a person’s ability to use their muscles voluntarily. See also: Buccofacial / Orofacial Apraxia; Constructional Apraxia; Developmental Verbal Dyspraxia (DVD); Gait Apraxia; Ideational/Conceptual Apraxia; Ideomotor Apraxia; Limb-Kinetic Apraxia; and Oculomotor Apraxia.


See Annual Review.

Area Inclusion Co-ordinator (InCo / Area SENCo)

Early years and childcare settings receive support from an Area Inclusion Co-ordinator, whose role is to work with the settings to ensure all children, whatever their needs, can be included in a full range of activities and learning experiences.

Area SENCo

See Area Inclusion Co-ordinator.


Decreased or no tendon reflex.

Armed Forces Covenant

The armed forces covenant sets out the relationship between the nation, the government and the armed forces. It recognises that the whole nation has a moral obligation to members of the armed forces and their families and it establishes how they should expect to be treated. The Covenant states that the children of service personnel should have the same standard of, and access to, education (including early years services) as any other UK citizen in the area in which they live.


Arthritis is a common condition that causes pain and inflammation in a joint.


Affected joints fixed in certain positions.


Autistic Spectrum Conditions. See Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).


See Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).

Asperger Syndrome

Asperger syndrome is a form of autism. People with the condition usually have difficulties with social communication, social interaction, and social imagination. People with Asperger syndrome usually have fewer problems with speaking, and usually don’t have the learning disabilities associated with autism. The term "Asperger syndrome" is somewhat obsolete. Medical professionals now use the term Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to describe autism in all its forms. However, the term "Asperger syndrome" is still widely used by non-professionals.

Assessment Coordination Meeting (ACM)

A multi-agency meeting held by the Education and Health Care Caseworker along with parents and professionals involved in the Education and Health Care assessment. This meeting will clarify the information in the draft Education Health Care plan and confirm with parents how support will be provided.


Asthma is a common long-term condition that can cause coughing, wheezing, chest tightness and breathlessness.


A common (and usually minor) eye condition that causes blurred or distorted vision. It occurs when the cornea or lens isn't a perfectly curved shape. Many people who wear glasses have some degree of astigmatism.


A non-specific clinical sign of dysfunctions within the nervous system. People with ataxia have difficulty coordinating their muscle movements.   

Ataxic Cerebral Palsy (Ataxic CP)

The least common type of cerebral palsy, affecting 4% of those diagnosed. This term is used to describe types of cerebral palsy (CP) that are characterized by poor coordination, balance problems, trouble with vision, poor special awareness, and difficulty walking.

Ataxic CP

See Ataxic Cerebral Palsy.

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)

Obsolete. now referred to as "ADHD Predominantly Inattentive Type." See Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

ADHD is a condition characterised by inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsivity. Unsupported, it can lead to major social and educational exclusion. ADHD has three subtypes: Predominantly Inattentive Type (formerly ADD), Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type, and Combined Inattention and Hyperactive-Impulsive Type.


A combination of speech and language disorders caused by damage to the brain. Most often associated with strokes.   

Audio Visual Aids

Materials that sight or sound to present information.


Health professional who specialises in identifying and treating hearing and balance disorders


Health professional who specialises in measuring hearing ability.

Auditory Brainstem Implants (ABI)

A medical device that helps users manage their hearing loss. It’s used in some cases of severe to profound hearing loss, where there are problems with the nerve that transmits sound to the brain. An ABI is an electrical device made up of electrodes (implanted into the brain), a receiver (placed under the skin behind the ear), and a small sound processor (outside your ear).   

Auditory Integration Training (AIT)

A specific type of music/auditory therapy.


See Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).

Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)

An umbrella term that covers autism, Asperger syndrome, and pervasive developmental disorders. The core symptoms are:  a difficulty in understanding communication and language, a difficulty in understanding social behaviour, and a difficulty in imaginative play.


See Audio Visual Aids. 


See Age Weighted Pupil Unit.

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Babinski Reflex

Occurs when the big toe flexes toward the top of the foot and the other toes fan out after the sole of the foot has been firmly stroked.


See Bone Anchored Hearing Aid/s.


See Bilateral Congenital Sensorineural Hearing Loss.


See Behavioural Difficulties.

Behaviour Support Assistant (BSA)

A teaching assistant who specialises in the management of challenging behaviour and young people who are disengaged from learning.

Behaviour Support Plan (BSP)

A school-based document designed to assist individual students who have experienced harm, are at risk of harm, or have caused harm to others.

Behavioural Difficulties (BehavDiff)

Pattern of behaviour consistently interfering with the child or young person's social, psychological or physical functioning.

Behavioural, Emotional and Social Difficulties (BESD)

See Social, Emotional and Mental Health Difficulties (SEMH)

Behind-the-Ear (BTE) Hearing Aid/s

A medical device that helps users manage their hearing loss. They sit comfortably behind your ear and transmit sound through a tube to either a custom ear-mold that sits inside your ear, or to a dome that rests at your ear canal. They’re recommended for severe hearing loss, or if your ear canals are very small.


See Behavioural, Emotional and Social Difficulties.

BiCROS Hearing Aid/s

See Binaural Contralateral Routing-of-Signal Hearing Aid/s.

Bilateral Congenital Sensorineural Hearing Loss (BCSNHL)

Hearing loss caused by problems in the inner ear (cochlea or hearing nerve), which affects both ears, and has been present since birth.

Bilateral Moderate Hearing Loss (BMHL)

Hearing loss that affects both ears. People who suffer from moderate hearing loss have difficulty keeping up with conversations when not using a hearing aid.

Bilateral Sensorineural Deafness (BSD)

Deafness caused by problems in the inner ear (cochlea or hearing nerve), which affects both ears.

Binaural Contralateral Routing-of-Signal (BiCROS) Hearing Aid/s

A medical device that helps users manage their hearing loss. BiCROS hearing aids are used by people who have full-deafness in one ear and hearing loss in the other. The ‘weaker ear’ has a microphone that transmits to a receiver in the ‘better ear,’ but the better ear also has a microphone to amplify all sounds received. It is intended to give the person a more balanced hearing experience.

Binge Eating Disorder

A serious mental illness where people experience a loss of control and overeat on a regular basis. People who binge eat consume very large quantities of food over a short period of time (called bingeing) and they often eat even when they are not hungry.

Bipolar Disorder

A serious mental illness characterized by periods of depression and periods of elevated mood. Other mental health issues such as anxiety disorder and substance use disorder are commonly associated. Many individuals have financial, social or work-related problems due to their illness, and will often face social stigma. Formerly known as manic depression.   


A term used to describe a person with complete (or nearly complete) vision loss.


Block is a manual form of communication where words are spelled out onto the palm of the deafblind person's hand.

Blue Badge

A disabled parking permit that can be displayed upon parking a vehicle that is carrying a person whose mobility would be otherwise significantly impaired by age, illness, disability, or infirmity. The permit allows exemption from street-parking charges in some places and is used to park within dedicated disabled parking spaces reserved for people who have satisfied requirements to receive the blue badge.


See Bilateral Moderate Hearing Loss.

Body-Worn (BW) Hearing Aid/s

A medical device that helps users manage their hearing loss. It consists of a small box containing the microphone (which is can be clipped to clothing), and a lead connecting the box to an earphone. BW hearing aids are a good option for people with poor dexterity.

Bone Anchored Hearing Aid/s (BAHA)

A medical device that helps users manage their hearing loss. It transmits sound directly to the cochlea by vibrating the bone behind the ear (the mastoid). A minor operation is needed to fix a screw to the skull, on which the hearing aid can be clipped on and off. A BAHA is removed at night and when you swim or take a shower.

Bone Conduction Hearing Aid/s

A medical device that helps users manage their hearing loss. It transmits sound directly to the cochlea by vibrating the bone behind the ear (the mastoid). The part of the hearing aid that vibrates is held against the bone behind the ear by a headband (or specially-strengthened spectacles). They can be very effective, but can be uncomfortable to wear for long periods.   

Bowel Incontinence

A lack of control over defecation, leading to involuntary loss of bowel contents. It is a sign (or a symptom), not a diagnosis.


Braille is a system of writing and printing for visually impaired people, in which arrangements of raised dots representing letters and numbers are identified by touch. Braille can now be used as a digital aid to conversation, with some smart phones offering Braille displays, and computer Braille keyboards allowing access to instant messaging software, Skype or chatrooms.

Brain Injury

A brain injury is any injury occurring in the brain of a living organism.

British Sign Language (BSL)

The first (or preferred) language of many deaf people in the UK. The language makes use of space and involves movement of the hands, body, face and head.


See Behaviour Support Assistant. 


See Bilateral Sensorineural Deafness.


See British Sign Language.


See Behaviour Support Plan. 

BTE Hearing Aid/s

See Behind-the-Ear Hearing Aid/s.

Buccofacial / Orofacial Apraxia

A motor disorder that affects a person’s ability to move their face and mouth (on command). See also: Apraxia.

Bulimia Nervosa

A serious mental illness where people feel that they have lost control over their eating. People with bulimia are caught in a cycle of eating large quantities of food (called ‘bingeing’), and then vomiting, taking laxatives or diuretics (called purging), in order to prevent gaining weight.

BW Hearing Aid/s

See Body-Worn Hearing Aid/s.


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See Carer’s Allowance.


See Common Assessment Framework. 


See Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia.


See Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services.


A disease caused by an uncontrolled division of abnormal cells in a part of the body.


Specialist health professional in diseases of the heart.


A disease of the heart muscle.


A family member or paid helper who regularly looks after a child or a sick, elderly, or disabled person. For the purpose of the SEND Code of Practice (2014), a carer is a person named by a local authority to care for a child for whom the social services department has parental responsibility, i.e. a child who is the subject of a care order and who has been placed in a residential or foster placement. The carer may qualify as a parent for the purposes of the Education Acts because he or she has care of the child (see the definition of 'Parent'). If so, he or she will have a role to play in the consideration of a child's SENs.

Carer's Allowance (CA)

A welfare payment for carers. If you are looking after someone for 35 hours a week or more, you may be eligible for Carer's Allowance.


See Citizens' Advice Bureau.


See Common Assessment Framework.

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)

An emergency procedure performed in an effort to manually preserve intact brain function until further measures are taken to restore spontaneous blood circulation and breathing in a person who is in cardiac arrest.

Care and Treatment Review

Care and Treatment Reviews (CTRs) are part of NHS England’s commitment to transforming services for people with learning disabilities, autism or both. CTRs are for people whose behaviour is seen as challenging and/or for people with a mental health condition. They are used by commissioners for people living in the community and in learning disability and mental health hospitals.


See Cognitive Assessment Testing.

CAT Scan

See Computerised Axial Tomography Scan.


See Cognitive Behaviour Therapy.


See Clinical Commissioning Group.


See Commercial and Charitable Providers.


See Critical Care Unit.


See Conduct Disorder.   


See Child Development Centre.


See Child Development Team.


See Congenital Hip Dislocation.


See Complementary Education Centre. 

Cerebral Palsy (CP)

A permanent condition that affects muscle control and movement. It's usually caused by an injury to the brain before, during, or after birth.  There are three main types of cerebral palsy. Spastic cerebral palsy (SpCP) causes tight muscles. Dyskinetic cerebral palsy (DyskCP) causes involuntary movements. Ataxic cerebral palsy (Ataxic CP) causes poor coordination. Many people with cerebral palsy will have a combination of the above types (Mixed Type).

Cerebral Visual Impairment (CVI)

A temporary or permanent visual impairment varying in degrees of severity.


See Cystic Fibrosis.


May refer to

  •     Children and Families Service
  •     Chronic Fatigue Syndrome 

Challenging Behaviour

Culturally abnormal behaviour of such intensity, frequency or duration that the physical safety of the person or others is placed in serious jeopardy, or behaviour which is likely to seriously limit or deny access to the use of ordinary community facilities.


See Comprehensive Health Assessment Tool.

Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS)

These services assess and treat children and young people with emotional, behavioural or mental health difficulties. They range from basic pastoral care (such as identifying mental health problems), to specialist ‘Tier 4’ CAMHS, which provide in-patient care for those who are severely mentally ill.

Child Development Centre (CDC)

An assessment and treatment centre where specialist help is available for children of all ages and families. Children are referred when parents or professionals have concerns about their development.

Child Development Team (CDT)

A team of professionals working at a Child Development Centre.

Child Looked After (CLA)

Under the Children Act 1989, a child is legally defined as ‘looked after’ by a local authority if he or she is under 18 years old and has either been provided with accommodation (for a continuous period of more than 24 hours), is subject to a care order, or is subject to a placement order. See also Looked After Child (LOC).

Child Protection Register (CPR)

Obsolete. Child Protection issues are now dealt with by the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH).

Childhood Social Anxiety Disorder (CSAD)

A persistent and overwhelming fear of social situations. It's one of the most common anxiety disorders. Social 'shyness' is perfectly normal for some children and teenagers, but it becomes a 'social anxiety disorder' if everyday activities like shopping or speaking on the phone regularly cause overwhelming fear.

Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS)

See Developmental Verbal Dyspraxia (DVD).

Children and Families Service (CFS)

A local authority department that covers adoption, child protection, children's centres, disabled children, early years support, fostering, the Local Offer, the virtual school, and young people in care.

Children and Young People's Partnership Board (CYPPB)

The Children and Young People’s Partnership (CYPP) was set up to promote co-operation between the council and various partners to improve the wellbeing of children and young people.

Children and Young People’s Secure Estate

This comprises three types of establishment – secure children’s homes, secure training centres and young offender institutions.

Children in Need (CIN)

All children and young people have different needs. Similarly, a family’s ability to meet those needs may differ. A CIN Assessment will identify those needs and ensure the family receives the right help. Under the Children Act 1989, an under-18 will be deemed a Child in Need (CIN) if they need extra help from the Local Authority (to be safe and healthy), or if they are disabled. If a child is deemed a CIN, a social worker will normally draw up a Child in Need Plan, which will set out what extra help the local authority (and other agencies) will provide to the child and their family. The plan should say what outcomes are expected for the child, what is expected of the parent/s, and also when (and how) the plan will be reviewed.

Children's Hearing Services Working Groups (CHSWG)

Local groups (organised by the National Deaf Children’s Society) that aim to ensure all services designed to support deaf children function  in a coordinated way. Each group includes representatives from health, social services, education, the local voluntary sector, and crucially, parents of deaf children.


A neurological disorder characterized by jerky involuntary movements affecting the shoulders, hips, and face.

Choreoathetoid Cerebral Palsy (DyskCP Choreoathetotic)

A sub-category of dyskinetic cerebral palsy (DyskCP). Those diagnosed struggle to control their physical movements. Characterized by abnormal, uncontrollable, writhing movements of the arms and/or legs. People with choreoathetoid cerebral palsy have variable muscle tone (often with decreased muscle tone).


See Chromosomal Disorder.

Chromosomal Disorder (ChromDis)

A disorder caused by a change in the number or structure of chromosomes. Down's syndrome is a well-known example. 

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

Causes persistent fatigue (exhaustion) that affects everyday life and doesn't go away with sleep or rest. CFS is a serious condition that can cause long-term illness and disability, but many people (particularly children and young people) will improve over time. It's not known exactly what causes CFS. Treatments include cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), graded exercise therapy, and medication (to control pain, nausea and sleeping problems). Also referred to as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) and systemic exertion intolerance disease (SEID).

Chronic Recurrent Multifocal Osteomyelitis (CRMO)

An auto-inflammatory disorder that mostly affects children. It comprises periodic bone pain, fever, and the appearance of multiple bone lesions that can occur in any skeletal site.

Chronic Renal Impairment (CRI)

Kidneys that have limited functionality for a significant amount of time.


See Children's Hearing Services Working Groups. 

CIC Hearing Aid/s

See Completely-in-the-Canal Hearing Aid/s.


See Children in Need.

Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB)

An office at which the public can receive free advice and information on civil matters (in the UK).


See Child Looked After.

Clear Speech

Speaking clearly is one of the most effective and common ways of communicating with Deafblind people who have some remaining vision and a hearing loss.

Cleft Lip and Palate

A cleft is a gap in the upper lip, the roof of the mouth (palate), or sometimes both. It occurs when separate areas of the face do not join together properly when a baby is developing during pregnancy.

Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG)

A group of professionals that work together to commission services, ensuring there is sufficient capacity contracted to deliver necessary services to people.

Clinical Physiologists

Health professionals who investigate the function of the nervous system in order to diagnose and monitor neurological disorders.


See Cow’s Milk Protein Intolerance.


See Congenital Cytomegalovirus Infection.

Cochlear Implant/s (CochlearImp)

A medical device that helps users manage their hearing loss. In addition to an external sound processor, a cochlear implant features an internal receiver - which is surgically implanted into the bone behind the ear (the mastoid), and internal electrodes - which are surgically inserted into part of the inner ear (the cochlea).   


See Cochlear Implant/s.

Code of Practice (CoP)

A national guide from the Department for Education to schools and local authorities about the help they can give to children with special educational needs. Schools, local authorities and health services must have regard to the Code when they are involved with a child with special educational needs.

Coeliac Disease

Affects the small intestine, due to sensitivity to gluten found in wheat

Cognitive Assessment Testing (CAT)

A test that evaluates a person's mental abilities.

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)

A 'talking therapy,' whereby a therapist helps identify problem behaviours (and ways of thinking), and then helps the person develop more positive ways of dealing with difficult issues, thoughts, feelings or situations.

Cognitive Impairment

Cognitive deficit or cognitive impairment is an inclusive term to describe any characteristic that acts as a barrier to the cognition process


Gap in one of the structures of the eye.

Common Assessment Framework (CAF)

Obsolete. Replaced by the Early Help Assessment (EHA) in 2015.   

Commercial and Charitable Providers (CCP)

Either a profit-driven company or a registered charity that provides 16-19 education and receives funding from the Education Funding Agency (EFA).

Communication Difficulties

Can be caused by a physical condition (such as hearing difficulties or visual impairment), or by a neurological condition (such as Alzheimer's disease or stroke). Learning disabilities can often result in communication difficulties too.   

Communication Support Worker (CSW)

A professional who enables access to communication, using a variety of support strategies and communication modes to match individuals’ needs and preferences.

Community Dentist

Dentist trained to work with children who have difficulty accessing a mainstream dentist.

Community Nurse for Children with Disabilities

Offers advice, implement programmes of care and support to families of children with special needs.

Community Paediatrician (CP)

Community paediatricians are children's doctors who are experts in child development and how ill health and disability can affect children.

Complementary Education Centre

An education provision for pupils who have been permanently excluded from school, or school-age mothers.

Completely-in-the-Canal (CIC) Hearing Aid/s

A medical device that helps users manage their hearing loss. Its working parts are located inside a very small ear-mould, and are therefore almost invisible. However, CICs are unlikely to be suitable if the user has severe hearing loss or frequent ear infections.

Complex Case Discussions / Meetings

Complex case discussions have replaced Early Help Forums, and are a new initiative created to strengthen Early Help and Prevention services. Complex Case meetings/discussions take place fortnightly in each borough and district, to provide a more responsive service to families and professionals.  

Comprehensive Health Assessment Tool (CHAT)

An assessment tool for young people in the youth justice system. It ensures that young people in the secure estate and in the community receive a comprehensive assessment of their 268 physical and mental health, substance misuse and neuro-disability needs on entry to the system.

Compulsory School Age

A child is of compulsory school age from the beginning of the term following their 5th birthday until the last Friday of June in the year in which they become 16, provided that their 16th birthday falls before the start of the next school year.

Computerised Axial Tomography Scan (CT/CAT Scan)

CT scans produce detailed images of many structures inside the body, including the internal organs, blood vessels and bones.


See Conductive Hearing Loss.

Conduct Disorder (CD)

A Disruptive Behaviour Disorder in children, characterised by aggressive behaviour towards people or animals, vandalism, lying, stealing, and truancy. In young people, it can include smoking, drinking, substance abuse, and reckless sexual activities. The main form of treatment for Conduct Disorder is cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT).

Conductive Hearing Loss (CondHL)

Hearing loss caused by problem/s in the middle ear (ear drum or ossicles).


See Congenital Anomaly.


See Congenital Infection.

Congenital Anomaly (CongenAnom)

Also known as birth defects, congenital disorders or congenital malformations. Congenital anomalies can be defined as structural or functional anomalies, including metabolic disorders, which are present at the time of birth.

Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH)

An inherited disorder affecting the hormones secreted (produced) by the adrenal glands.

Congenital Cytomegalovirus (CMV)

Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a virus that pregnant women can pass to their unborn babies. It can result in developmental disabilities, hearing and vision loss, problems with the liver, spleen or lungs, and seizures.

Congenital Heart Disease (ConHeartDis)

A general term to describe problems in the structure of the heart that are present from birth.

Congenital Hip Dislocation (CHD)

Occurs when a child is born with an unstable hip due to abnormal formation of the hip joint during their early stages of fetal development.

Congenital Hypotonia (ConHypo)

A term used to describe a state of low muscle tone (involving reduced muscle strength) in newborn babies. Sometimes called ‘Floppy Baby Syndrome,’ ConHypo is not a specific medical disorder in its own right, but is potentially a symptom of other conditions.

Congenital Infection (CongenInfect)

Infections that affect an unborn foetus or newborn infant. Generally caused by viruses that may be picked up by the baby at any time during the pregnancy, right up to the time of delivery.

Congenital Malformation of Brain (CongMalfBrain)

A general term to describe brain deformities that are present from birth.

Congenital Metabolic Disease

See Inborn Error of Metabolism (IEM).

Congenital Muscular Dystrophy

A clinically and genetically heterogeneous group of inherited muscle disorders. Muscle weakness typically presents from birth to early infancy.

Congenital Nystagmus

Rhythmic involuntary eye movements, present from birth.


See Congenital Malformation of Brain.


See Congenital Heart Disease.


See Congenital Hypotonia.

Conceptual Apraxia

See Ideational/Conceptual Apraxia.


A delay or difficulty in passing stools.

Constructional Apraxia

A motor disorder that affects a person’s ability to draw or construct simple configurations (on command). See also: Apraxia.   


A doctor trained in a specialist subject.

Contact Allergy

Allergy due to physical contact.

Continence Advisor

Provides advice and help if a child is incontinent.

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)

A positive airway pressure ventilator that applies mild air pressure on a continuous basis to keep the airways continuously open in a patient who is unable to breathe spontaneously on their own.

Contralateral Routing-of-Signal (CROS) Hearing Aid/s

A medical device that helps users manage their hearing loss. CROS hearing aids are used by people who have full-hearing in one ear and hearing loss in the other. The ‘weaker ear’ has a microphone that transmits to a receiver in the ‘hearing ear,’ so the person can pick up sound from both sides.   


See Code of Practice.

Corporate Parenting Board (CPB)

A body of elected members (who work across various organisations) who are dedicated to improvement services and better outcomes for looked after children, young people and care leavers.


The outer part of an organ.

Cortical Visual Impairment (CVI)

A temporary or permanent visual impairment varying in degrees of severity.

Cow’s Milk Protein Intolerance (CMPI)

In CMPI the immune system reacts unusually to the protein found in cow’s milk. The reaction can cause injury in the stomach and intestines. 


May refer to

  •       Clinical Psychologist 
  •       Cerebral Palsy 
  •       Community Paediatrician 
  •       Child Protection


See Continuous Positive Airway Pressure.


See Corporate Parenting Board.


May refer to

  •       Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation
  •       Child Protection Register


Skull shape abnormalities.


See Chronic Renal Impairment.

Critical Care Unit (CCU)

See Intensive Care Unit (ICU).


See Chronic Recurrent Multifocal Osteomyelitis.

Crohn's Disease

A long-term condition that causes inflammation of the lining of the digestive system. Symptoms include diarrhoea, abdominal pain, fatigue, and unintended weight-loss. There's currently no cure for Crohn's disease, so the aim of treatment is to stop the inflammatory process, relieve symptoms (induce and maintain remission) and avoid surgery wherever possible.

CROS Hearing Aid/s

See Contralateral Routing-of-Signal Hearing Aid/s.


See Childhood Social Anxiety Disorder.


See Communication Support Worker.


See Care and Treatment Review

CT Scan

See Computerised Axial Tomography Scan. 


The curriculum outlines all the learning opportunities that a school offers.


See Cerebral Visual impairment.


See Children and Young People's Partnership Board.

Cystic Fibrosis (CF)

A life-limiting inherited condition caused by a faulty gene that controls the movement of salt and water in and out of cells. It causes mucus to gather in the lungs and digestive system, and creates a range of challenging symptoms.

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See Dynamic Ankle Foot Orthosis.


May refer to

  •       Deep Brain Stimulation
  •       Disclosure and Barring Service


See Developmental Coordination Disorder.


See Department for Children, Schools, and Families.


See Disabled Childrens' Team


See Disabled Children and Young People Delivery Group.


See Disability Discrimination Act 1995.


We use the term 'people who are deaf' in a general way when we are talking about people with hearing loss, especially when it is severe or profound (unable to hear anything below 70Db).


Used to describe people who have some hearing and vision, as well people who are totally deaf and totally blind.

Deafblind Manual Alphabet

The Deafblind manual alphabet is a method of spelling out words onto a Deafblind person's hand. Each letter is denoted by a particular sign or place on the hand. It is straightforward to learn but is more complex to receive.


Used to describe people who were born hearing and became severely or profoundly deaf after learning to speak. This can happen suddenly or gradually. It is also known as acquired profound hearing loss.

Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS)

A surgical procedure used to treat neurological symptoms such as tremor, rigidity, stiffness, slowed movement, and walking problems (most commonly caused by Parkinson's disease). The surgery involves placing a thin metal electrode into one of several possible targets in the brain, and attaching it to a computerized pulse generator (which is implanted under the skin in the chest).   


See Delayed Puberty.

Delayed Puberty (DelPuberty)

Delayed puberty (or being a late bloomer) usually runs in families and usually doesn't require any treatment. However, delayed puberty is sometimes associated with medical problems such as diabetes, cystic fibrosis, kidney disease, asthma, and malnutrition. It can also happen because of problems with the pituitary or thyroid glands. Chromosomal disorders can delay puberty too.


A chronic or persistent disorder of the mental processes caused by brain disease or injury and marked by memory disorders, personality changes, and impaired reasoning.

Department for Children, Schools, and Families (DCSF)

Obsolete. Now known as the Department for Education (DfE).

Department for Education (DfE)

The Ministerial Department of the UK Government responsible for government policy on issues affecting people in England who are under the age of 19 (including child protection and education). The department is led by the Secretary of State for Education. Previously known as the Department for Children, Schools & Families (DCSF) in 2007–2010, and the Department for Education & Skills (DfES) in 2001–2007.

Department for Education & Skills (DfES)

Obsolete. Now known as the Department for Education (DfE).

Department of Health (DH)

The Ministerial Department of the UK Government responsible for government policy on health and adult social care issues in England. It oversees the English National Health Service (NHS). The Department is led by the Secretary of State for Health.

Department of Work and Pensions (DWP)

The Ministerial Department of the UK Government responsible for government policy on welfare and pensions. The Department has four operational organisations - Jobcentre Plus, the Pension Service, the Disability & Carers Service, and the Child Maintenance Group. The Department is led by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.

Dependent on Ventilator (DepVent)

A person who depends upon mechanical life-support because of their inability to breathe effectively. A ventilator is used when a patient cannot breathe well enough to maintain normal levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood.


A serious mental disorder characterized by a pervasive and persistent low mood that is accompanied by low self-esteem and by a loss of interest or pleasure in normally enjoyable activities. Depression is a disabling condition that adversely affects a person's family, work or school life, sleeping and eating habits, and general health.


See Dependent on Ventilator.


A doctor who specializes in treating the skin, hair, nails, and mucous membranes.

Designated Clinical Officer or Designated Medical Officer

In Northamptonshire, this post is referred to as Designated Clinical Officer for SEN and Disability and is held by Rachel Akers, who is also the Service Manager for Specialist Children’s Therapies and the Referral Management Centre for the Northamptonshire Healthcare Foundation Trust.

Designated Special Provision (DSP)

Obsolete. See SEN Unit and/or Resourced Provision.


See Developmental Academic Disorder.

Developmental Academic Disorder (DevAcadDis)

A general 'umbrella' term used by professionals, which covers all childhood learning disabilities (and specific learning disabilities). Doctors tend to use the term before an exact diagnosis has been made. A referral to an educational psychologist (or similar expert) should be made to diagnose the child more precisely.

Developmental Apraxia of Speech (DAS)

See Developmental Verbal Dyspraxia (DVD).

Developmental Coordination Disorder (CDC)

Developmental coordination disorder also known as developmental dyspraxia or clumsy child syndrome is a chronic neurological disorder beginning in childhood that can affect planning of movements and co-ordination as a result of brain messages not being accurately transmitted to the body.

Developmental Dyscalculia

See Dyscalculia

Developmental Dyspraxia

See Developmental Coordination Disorder (CDC).

Developmental Verbal Dyspraxia (DVD)

A motor disorder that affects a child’s ability to verbalise sounds, syllables, and words (where there is no muscle weakness or paralysis). The brain has problems planning to move the body parts (e.g., lips, jaw, tongue) needed for speech. The child knows what they want to say, but their brain has difficulty coordinating the muscle movements necessary to say those words. Also known (in the USA) as developmental apraxia of speech (DAS), or childhood apraxia of speech (CAS). See also: Apraxia.      


See Department for Education.


See Department for Education & Skills.


See Disability Facilities Grant.


See Department of Health.


See Diabetes Insipidus.

Diabetes Insipidus (DI)

A rare condition where you produce a large amount of urine and often feel very thirsty. Diabetes insipidus isn't related to diabetes mellitus (usually just known as diabetes), but it does share some of the same signs and symptoms. The two main symptoms of diabetes insipidus are thirst (polydipsia), and passing large amounts of urine even at night (polyuria). Diabetes insipidus can be treated with medication.

Diabetes Mellitus   

Usually just referred to as "diabetes," this is lifelong condition that causes a person's blood sugar level to become too high. The amount of sugar in a person’s bloodstream is controlled by a hormone called insulin, which is produced by the pancreas. In diabetic people, there's either not enough insulin, or the insulin produced doesn't work properly.  Symptoms include feeling very thirsty, feeling very tired, urinating more frequently, weight loss, slow-healing wounds, and blurred vision. Diabetes can be treated with medication. There are two main types of diabetes - Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus (DM1) and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (DM2).


Frequent, loose or liquid stools.


A dietician works for the Health Service and can advise on dietary issues for example for a child that has trouble feeding and/or swallowing or is under or overweight.

Direct Payments (DP)

Direct payments from social services are payments made to you or the person you're looking after so that you can buy care services for yourself.

Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA)

Obsolete. An Act of the Parliament of the UK that made it unlawful to discriminate against people in respect of their disabilities in relation to employment, the provision of goods and services, education, and transport. It was replaced by the Equality Act 2010 (except in Northern Ireland).      

Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG)

A means-tested grant from your local council, which can be used if you're disabled and need to make changes to your home. Changes might include widening doors, installing ramps, or installing a stair-lift. The grant will not affect any welfare payments you might be receiving.

Disability Living Allowance (DLA)

A tax-free welfare payment for disabled people who need help with mobility or care costs. The DLA is being replaced by the Personal Independence Payment (PIP). You’ll continue to get your DLA until the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) writes to you, telling you what to do next. Use the government’s PIP Checker to find out how your DLA will be affected by PIP.

Disabled Children and Young People Delivery Group (DCYPDG)

The DCYPDG broad aims are to work to strengthen inclusive opportunities for learning and living for all children and young people with SEN and D, to promote their achievements and outcomes and to use resources in the fairest and most effective way possible.

Disabled Children's Team or Disabled Children's Service

Social care teams who specialise in working with children with disabilities and their families.

Disabled Students Allowance (DSA)

An allowance for undergraduate or post-graduate students who have a disability or long-term health condition, mental health condition or specific learning difficulty such as dyslexia or dyspraxia which affects their ability to study. It can be used to pay for things such as special equipment, a note-taker or transport costs.

Disagreement Arrangements

Under the new Code of Practice, all local authorities must provide arrangements to help prevent or resolve disagreements between parents whose children have special educational needs and the local authority or a school.

Disagreement Resolution

This is a statutory service commissioned by local authorities to provide a quick and non-adversarial way of resolving disagreements between parents or young people and bodies responsible for providing education. It doesn't matter whether the child or young person has an Education Health and Care plan or not. Disagreement resolution services can also be used in cases of disagreement between local authorities and health commissioning bodies. For example, during Education Health and Care needs assessments, the drawing up of Education Health and Care plans or the reviewing of those plans.

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)

Helps employers make safer recruitment decisions and prevent unsuitable people from working with vulnerable groups, including children. It replaced the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA).

Disordered Sleep

A common secondary disability, whose appropriate management may lead to considerable improvement in quality of life for the child or young person and the rest of the family.

Disposable Hearing Aid/s

A medical device that helps users manage their hearing loss. Disposable hearing aids are sometimes used by people with mild to moderate hearing loss. Their batteries usually last around 12 weeks, after which time the hearing aid is thrown away and replaced. They tend to be expensive in the long-term and are only available privately.


See Disruptive Behaviour/s.

Disruptive Behaviour/s (DisruptBehav)

When a child is uncooperative at school - preventing themselves (and other children in class) from working. A disruptive child also manages to grab a teacher's attention and prevent the teacher from giving the other children attention.

Disruptive Behaviour Disorders

An ‘umbrella’ term used to describe Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) and Conduct Disorder (CD).   


See Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus.


See Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus.


See Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD)

One of the more common, severe muscle-wasting conditions. Duchenne muscular dystrophy causes muscles to weaken and waste over time, leading to increasing disability. It is caused by genetic mutations on the ‘X’ chromosome. Most people with Duchenne muscular dystrophy are male, will be diagnosed by the age of five, and will use a wheelchair by the time they are 12. Many face severe health problems by their late teens as the muscles of their heart and lungs weaken. Although the condition is severely disabling, many people living with Duchenne muscular dystrophy lead full and active lives.


See Joint Hypermobility.

Down's Syndrome

A genetic condition that typically causes some level of learning disability and characteristic physical features. It is caused by the presence of an extra copy of chromosome 21 in a baby's cells. Babies born with Down's syndrome are likely to have reduced muscle tone (hypotonia) and a below-average weight and length.  Certain physical characteristics are associated with Down's syndrome. Not everyone will have all of them, but they might include: a small nose and flat nasal bridge, a small mouth, eyes that slant, a flat back-of-the-head, a bigger space between the first and second toe (sandal gap), broad hands with short fingers, and palms that have only one crease across them (single transverse palmar crease). Children with Down's syndrome will have some degree of learning disability (and delayed development), but this varies widely between individual children. Complications of Down's syndrome include heart problems, bowel problems, difficulties with hearing and/or vision, and an increased risk of infections.


See Direct Payments.


Drooling can be intrusive for the child or young person, can cause a smell that can lead to difficulties in social situations and again may prompt liaison with the specialist speech and language therapist.


See Disabled Students Allowance.


See Designated Special Provision.


See Department of Work and Pensions.

Dynamic Ankle Foot Orthosis (DAFO)

A brand name for some lower extremity braces that provide thin, flexible, external support to the foot, ankle and/or lower leg.


A difficulty speaking, caused by problems controlling the muscles used in speech.


A specific learning difficulty that affects a person's ability to process basic arithmetic facts, understand numerical magnitude and perform accurate calculations.


A specific learning disability that affects written expression. Dysgraphia can appear as difficulties with spelling, poor handwriting and trouble putting thoughts on paper.


See Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy.

DyskCP Choreoathetotic

See Choreoathetoid Cerebral Palsy.

DyskCP Dystonic

See Dystonic Cerebral Palsy.

Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy (DyskCP)

A less common type of cerebral palsy, affecting 15% of those diagnosed. This term is used to describe types of cerebral palsy (CP) that are characterized by an inability to control physical movements. Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy has two sub-types. Choreoathetoid Cerebral Palsy (DyskCP Choreoathetotic), and dystonic cerebral palsy (DyskCP Dystonic).


A specific learning difficulty that affects word reading and spelling. Includes difficulties with phonological awareness, verbal memory and verbal processing speed.

Dysmorphic Feature

A difference of body structure. It can be an isolated finding in an otherwise normal individual, or it can be related to a congenital disorder, genetic syndrome, or birth defect.


A difficulty in swallowing.


See Developmental Coordination Disorder (CDC).


A syndrome where muscle spasms lead to abnormal postures, affecting neck, trunk and limbs.

Dystonic Cerebral Palsy (DyskCP Dystonic)

A sub-category of dyskinetic cerebral palsy (DyskCP). Those diagnosed struggle to control their physical movements.  Dystonic cerebral palsy is characterized by slow movements (with muscle rigidity), and persistent abnormal postures that relax after seconds or minutes. People with dystonic cerebral palsy have increased muscle tone.


The degeneration of tissue, due to disease, malnutrition, or heredity.

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Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT)

An area of medical specialty that encompasses a wide range of conditions that affect those areas. Doctors who specialize in ENT are called otorhinolaryngologists.

Early Developmental Impairment (EDI)

A term used to describe persistent and significant limitations in two or more developmental domains (motor, communication, cognitive skills, social skills, emotional regulation/behavioural skills or self care skills). Onset is before the age of five and the limitations cannot be better explained by another established developmental disorder.

Early Help Assessment (EHA)

A simple way to help identify the needs of children and families and make a plan to meet those needs. It is designed to be a shared tool which can be used by all agencies in Northamptonshire that deliver early help. It replaced the Common Assessment Framework (CAF).

Early-Onset Diabetes

See Diabetes Mellitus, and Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus (DM1).

Early Support Programme

Obsolete. Ran from 2002 to 2015 with the aim to improve the way that services work with parents and carers of disabled children and young people across health, education and social care. It played an integral role in the transition and implementation of the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) reforms.

Early Years Provider or Early Years Setting

Provider of early education places for children under five years of age. This can include state-funded and private nurseries as well as child minders.


See Eating Disorders.

Eating Disorders (EatingDis)

Mental disorders defined by abnormal eating habits that negatively affect a person's physical or mental health. They include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder. Anxiety disorders, depression, and substance abuse are common among people with eating disorders.


Electrocardiogram (Electrical Heart trace)


Repeating what has been said

Ectodermal Dysplasia

Abnormalities of two more parts of the body i.e. teeth, sweat glands, facial structure, hair, digits, nails


Skin inflammation can be caused by stress, allergens, irritants, etc.


See Emotional Dysregulation.


See Early Developmental Impairment.   

Education Act 1996

An Act to consolidate the Education Act 1944 and certain other enactments relating to education, with amendments to give effect to recommendations of the Law Commission.

Education Funding Agency

An arm of the Department for Education that manages the funding for learners between the ages of 3 and 19 years and for those with SEN or disabilities between the ages of 3 and 25. Also know as EFA

Education, Health and Care plan (EHCp)

An Education Health and Care plan details the education, health and social care support that is to be provided to a child or young person who has SEN or a disability. It is drawn up by a local authority after an Education Health and Care needs assessment of the child or young person has determined that an Education Health and Care plan is necessary, and after consultation with relevant partner agencies.

Educational Psychologist

Provides advice and support on learning and behaviour to parents and teachers also known as EP


Electroencephalogram (Electrical activity of the brain)


Education Entitlement Service (obsolete). A Local Authority department that was recently renamed the Educational Inclusion Partnerships Team (EIP)


See Education Funding Agency.


See Early Help Assessment.


See Education, Health and Care Plan.

Early Help Forum (EHF)

Early Help Forum – Early Help Forums have been replaced with Complex Case Discussions. Please see Complex Case Discussions.


Educational Inclusion Partnerships Team. Formerly known as the 'Education Entitlement Service,' this Local Authority department covers Elective Home Education, Children Missing Education, Exclusions, Children in Entertainment & Employment, and Attendance.

Elected Members

The elected members of a county council or unitary local authority (as opposed to the salaried officials of the council or local authority).


Early Learning Goal/s. The education levels children are normally expected to achieve by the age of 5 (or by the end of their Reception year).  The main areas are: Communication & Language Development, Physical Development, and Personal, Social & Emotional Development. Also see EYFS.


Electromyography (assesses function of nerves & muscles)

Behavioural, Emotional and Social Difficulties (BESD)

See Social, Emotional and Mental Health Difficulties (SEMH)

Emotional Dysregulation (ED)

See Hypersensitive / Hypersensitivity.


Emotional (mood/anxiety) - all emotional disorders including of mood and anxiety (there is often an overlap and expert assessment with the child and adolescent mental health team may be required to precisely define the issues.


Inflammation of the brain, caused by viral or bacterial infection.


See Ear, Nose and Throat.


Enlarged tonsils


Passing urine whilst asleep (bedwetting)


Educational Psychologist


A neurological disorder marked by sudden recurrent episodes of sensory disturbance, loss of consciousness, or convulsions, associated with abnormal electrical activity in the brain.

Epilepsy Nurse

Provides support, advice, training to families of children with epilepsy


Early Pregnancy Unit

Equality Act 2010

The Equality Act 2010 provides protection against discrimination, and promotes equality of opportunity for all people regardless of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage / civil partnership (or lack thereof), race, religion / belief (or lack thereof), sex, and sexual orientation. In the case of disability, employers and service providers must make reasonable adjustments to their workplaces to overcome potential barriers experienced by disabled people.


The concept of exclusion is closely linked to inequality, and can mean different things in different contexts. In education, an exclusion means that a specific pupil will not be allowed to attend school (or go on to school premises) for a specified period of time, or permanently.


Early Years Action (obsolete). The level of SEN support provided (solely) by a mainstream nursery. Replaced with "SEN Support" in 2014.

EYDCP or Early Years Development and Childcare Partnership

Set up by LEAs to bring together all the parties (including schools and other providers, parents, employers and colleges) to develop early education and childcare services in their areas and to draw up, implement and monitor their annual plans.


Early Years Foundation Stage. How the Government and early years professionals describe a child’s life between birth and age 5. Also see ELG/s.



See Failure to Gain Weight.

Failure to Gain Weight (FailureGainWgt)

See Faltering Growth (FaltGrowth).

Failure to Thrive (FTT)

See Faltering Growth (FaltGrowth).

Faltering Growth (FaltGrowth)

A term usually used in paediatric medicine to indicate a low weight (for the child's age), or a low rate of weight increase. It covers poor physical growth of any cause, and does not imply abnormal intellectual, social, or emotional development. May also be referred to as Failure to Gain Weight (FailureGainWgt) or Failure to Thrive (FTT).


See Faltering Growth.

Family Fund Trust (FFT)

The UK’s largest charity providing grants for families raising disabled or seriously ill children and young people. In 2015 they helped 72,043 families with over £33 million in grants and services.

FE College

See Further Education College.


See Febrile Convulsions.

Febrile Convulsions (FebConv)

A seizure (fits or convulsions) that occurs in a child aged between 6 months and 5 years. Febrile convulsions are associated with a high temperature, and the vast majority have a non-serious cause (such as a cold or an ear infection). Full recovery is usual with no after-effects. However, in very rare cases, the cause might be more serious, so if your child does have a seizure, you should always call for an ambulance.

Febrile Seizure

See Febrile Convulsions.


See Iron Deficiency Anaemia.


This term describes when two (or more) schools are governed collectively under a single governing body.

Feeding Difficulty (FeedingDiff)

A broad term used to describe a variety of feeding (or mealtime) behaviours that are seen to be problematic. It's also used when describing children with oral motor difficulties (in regards to swallowing foods and/or drinks).


See Feeding Difficulty.


See Family Fund Trust.


A long-term condition that causes pain all over the body. Other symptoms might include fatigue, muscle stiffness, insomnia, problems with mental processes, headaches, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The exact cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, and there is currently no cure. Treatment tends to include medication, talking therapies, and lifestyle changes.

Fine Motor Skills

The ability to use small muscle groups that coordinate precise hand movements involved in activities such as writing, buttoning, cutting, or tracing.

First-Tier Tribunal - Special Educational Needs and Disability (SENDisT)

The Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal considers parents' appeals against the decisions of Local Education Authorities (LEAs) about a child's special educational needs, where the parents cannot reach agreement with the LEA. It also hears parents' claims of disability discrimination in schools.

Floppy Baby Syndrome

See Hypotonia.


The skill of understanding and using a language without undue repetitions or pauses (especially in speech or writing).

Focal Seizure (FocSeiz)

Seizures that (initially) affect just one hemisphere of the brain. Symptoms will vary according to where the seizure occurs. Partial seizures are split into two main categories; simple partial seizures and complex partial seizures. A simple partial seizure affects a small part of one hemisphere, and the person remains conscious.  A complex partial seizure affects a larger part of one hemisphere, and the person may lose consciousness. Focal seizures are common in temporal lobe epilepsy. They are sometimes referred to as partial seizures or localized seizures.


See Focal Seizure.

Food Allergy

An abnormal immune response to certain foods. Symptoms may range from mild to severe. They may include itchiness, swelling of the tongue, vomiting, diarrhoea, hives, trouble breathing, or low blood pressure. When the symptoms are severe it is known as anaphylaxis. Common food allergens include cow's milk, peanuts, eggs, shellfish, and wheat.


See Food Allergy.

Fragile X Syndrome (FraX / FXS)

AA genetic condition, which is the most common known cause of inherited learning disabilities. Fragile X syndrome is also associated with delayed speech and language, a short attention span, impulsiveness, restlessness, and sensory problems. Many children and adults show autistic-like features, and some will receive a dual-diagnosis of ASD. Some children and adults will develop epilepsy. There are some physical features associated with Fragile X, including a long narrow face with prominent jaw bones and ears. However, physical features are rarely obvious, and the only way to tell if someone has Fragile X syndrome is  with a genetic test. Also known as Martin-Bell syndrome.


See Fragile X Syndrome.

Free School

A free school is a type of academy, which is free to attend, but is not controlled by the local authority. Free schools receive state funding via the Education Funding Agency. Parents, teachers, businesses or charities can submit an application to the Department for Education to set up a free school.


See Failure to Thrive.

Further Education College (FE College)

A college offering continuing education to young people over the age of 16. The FE sector in England includes general further education colleges, sixth form colleges, specialist colleges and adult education institutes.


See Fragile X Syndrome.



See Gastrostomy.


See Generalised Anxiety Disorder.

Gait Abnormalities

When a person's style of walking deviates from what is expected. 

Gait Apraxia

A motor disorder that affects a person’s ability to walk (on command). See also: Apraxia.


A medical doctor who specialises in the digestive system.

Gastro-Oesophageal Reflux Disease (GORD)

A common condition, whereby acid from the stomach leaks up into the oesophagus (gullet). GORD can often be controlled with self-help measures and medication.


A gastrostomy is a hole (stoma), from the skin into the stomach. A feeding device is put in the stoma so a person can ingest liquid food, water, or medication straight into their stomach. There are two types of feeding device. One is a gastrostomy button (which fits into the stoma and is held in the stomach by a balloon filled with water). The other is a gastrostomy tube (g-tube), which is a long tube that fits in the stoma and is held in place by a soft plastic disc. G-tubes are sometimes referred to as a percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG).

Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

A long-term condition that causes people to feel anxious about a wide range of situations and issues, rather than one specific event.

General Practitioner (GP)

A bookable medical doctor who treats acute and chronic illnesses, and provides preventive care and health education to patients. People who are regarded as 'ordinarily resident' in the UK are eligible for free treatment by a GP.

Genetic Syndrome (GenSyndr)

A disease or disorder that has more than one identifying feature or symptom, and has been caused by an abnormality in the genes or chromosomes.


A medical doctor who specialises in genetic disorders.

Genitourinary Tract Anomalies (GUanom)

Abnormalities of the reproductive organs and urinary tract. Urinary tract anomalies predispose patients to many complications, including infection, obstruction, and impaired renal function. Genital anomalies may cause sexual dysfunction, impaired fertility, and/or psychosocial difficulties.


See Genetic Syndrome.


See Growth Hormone Deficiency.

Glue Ear   

A common childhood condition where the middle ear becomes filled with fluid. Exactly what causes the build-up of fluid is unclear (it isn't caused by ear wax, or by getting water in the ears). However, most cases of glue ear don't require treatment, and the condition usually improves by itself within three months. Also referred to as Otitis Media with Effusion (OME).


See Gross Motor Function Classification System - Expanded & Revised.


See Gastro-Oesophageal Reflux Disease.


See General Practitioner.

Graduated Approach

A model of action and intervention in early education settings, schools and colleges that helps children and young people who have special educational needs. The approach recognises that there is a continuum of special educational needs and that, where necessary, increasing specialist expertise should be brought to bear on the difficulties that a child or young person may be experiencing.

Graves' Disease

A type of autoimmune problem that causes the thyroid gland to produce too much thyroid hormone. It's often the underlying cause of hyperthyroidism.

Gross Motor Function Classification System - Expanded & Revised (GMFCS - E&R)

A 5-level clinical classification system that describes the (voluntary) gross motor functions of people with cerebral palsy. Level I is the mildest classification, and Level V is the most severe classification. There are also 5 age bands (under 2 years, 2-4 years, 4-6 years, 6-12 years, and 12-18 years).

Gross Motor Skills

The ability to use large muscle groups that coordinate body movements involved in activities such as walking, running, jumping, throwing, and maintaining balance.

Growth Hormone Deficiency (GHDef)

Occurs when the pituitary gland doesn’t produce enough growth hormone. It more commonly affects children than adults, and it occurs in roughly 1 in 7,000 births. The condition is also a symptom of several genetic diseases, including Turner syndrome and Prader-Willi syndrome. However, growth hormone deficiency is very treatable.


See Genitourinary Tract Anomalies.



See Health Authority.

Hands-On Signing

A form of sign language used by people who are deafblind. It relies on the user's sense of touch (instead of sight). 


The most common type of birthmark. Sometimes called ‘strawberry marks’ because of their appearance, haemangiomas are benign (non-cancerous) and rarely cause problems. 


A medical doctor who specialises in blood, blood-forming tissue, and associated disorders.


The medical name for blood in the urine. If blood in the urine is obvious with the naked eye, it is called "macroscopic," or "visible haematuria." If the blood can only be detected with laboratory testing, it is called "microscopic," or "non-visible."

Haptic Communication

Consists of tactile signs describing the environment, emotional responses, descriptions of people and other additional information which would otherwise be provided by sight. The signs are given through touch, commonly to the back, but it can be anywhere on the body that doesn’t interfere with other communication methods being used that the recipient is comfortable with.

Hard of Hearing (HOH)

Term used to describe people with mild to moderate hearing loss (unable to hear sounds between 25dB and 69Db). It's often applied to people who are losing their hearing gradually due to age.


See Hepatitis A Virus.


See Hepatitis B Virus.


See Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy.


See Hepatitis C Virus.

Health Authority (HA)

Obsolete. An organization that is responsible for hospitals and medical services in a particular area. Regional health authorities were abolished by the Health Authorities Act 1995.

Health and Wellbeing Board

A Health and Wellbeing Board acts as a forum where local commissioners across the NHS, social care and public health work together to improve the health and wellbeing of their local population and reduce health inequalities. The boards are intended to increase democratic input into strategic decisions about health and wellbeing services, strengthen working relationships between health and social care and encourage integrated commissioning of health and social care services.

Health Visitor (HV)

A trained nurse who visits people in their homes to assist or advise chronically ill people, or parents with very young children.

Healthwatch (England)

Healthwatch England is an independent consumer champion, gathering and representing the views of the public about health and social care services in England. It operates both at a national and local level and ensures the views of the public and people who use services are taken into account. Healthwatch England works as part of the Care Quality Commission.

Healthy Child Programme

The Healthy Child Programme covers pregnancy and the first five years of a child’s life, focusing on a universal preventative service that provides families with a programme of screening, immunisation, health and development reviews, supplemented by advice around health, wellbeing and parenting.

Hearing Difficulties

See Hearing Loss.

Hearing Impairment (HI)

See Hearing Loss.

Hearing Loss

A general term that describes any impairment in hearing, from mild hearing loss (unable to hear sounds below 25dB) to profound deafness (unable to hear sounds below 95dB).

Hearing Aid/s

A general term used to describe medical devices that help the user manage their hearing loss. Hearing aids can be either analogue or digital. Analogue aids amplify electronic signals, while digital aids use a tiny computer to process sound. Digital hearing aids are available as standard on the NHS. There are many different kinds of hearing aid/s, including:

  • Auditory brainstem implants (ABI)
  • Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aid/s
  • Body-worn (BW) hearing aid/s
  • Bone anchored hearing aid/s (BAHA)
  • Bone conduction hearing aid/s
  • Cochlear implants
  • Completely-in-the-canal (CIC) hearing aid/s
  • CROS and BICROS hearing aid/s
  • Disposable hearing aid/s
  • In-the-canal (ITC) hearing aid/s
  • In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids
  • Middle ear implants
  • Receiver in-the-ear (RITE) hearing aid/s

You can get hearing aids free-of-charge on the NHS or you can choose to buy them privately.

Heart Murmurs

An extra or unusual sound heard during a heartbeat. Murmurs range from very faint to very loud. A heart murmur isn't a disease, and most murmurs are harmless.


Muscle weakness of the entire left or right side of the body. It can be caused by different medical conditions, including congenital causes, trauma, tumours, or stroke.


See Hepatitis A Virus.


Inflammation of the liver. Usually caused by viruses, toxic substances, and autoimmune diseases.

Hepatitis A Virus (HepA / HAV)

A contagious virus that infects the liver. Hepatitis A is usually transmitted through consumption of contaminated water or food. It’s not usually serious, and most people make a full recovery within a couple of months. However, in rare cases, it might cause liver failure. Hepatitis A is uncommon in the UK, but a vaccine is available for people who might be at risk. Please note that Hepatitis A, B, and C are each caused by different, unrelated viruses.

Hepatitis B Virus (HepB / HBV)

A contagious virus that infects the liver. Hepatitis B is usually transmitted either through blood, semen, and other body fluids, or from mother to baby. It’s not usually serious (in adults), and there are treatments available. However, in rare, long-term cases, it might cause scarring of the liver (cirrhosis), liver cancer, and liver failure. Hepatitis B is less common in the UK than other parts of the world, but a vaccine is available for people who might be at risk. Please note that Hepatitis A, B, and C are each caused by different, unrelated viruses.

Hepatitis C Virus (HepC / HCV)

A contagious virus that infects the liver. Hepatitis C is usually transmitted through blood and (very rarely) through sexual contact. If left untreated, it can cause life-threatening damage to the liver, such as liver scarring (cirrhosis), liver cancer, and liver failure. There is no vaccine for hepatitis C, but with early diagnosis and modern treatments, most infected people will have a normal life expectancy. Please note that Hepatitis A, B, and C are each caused by different, unrelated viruses.


See Hepatitis B Virus.


 See Hepatitis C Virus.


See Hearing Impairment.


See Human Immunodeficiency Virus & Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.


Hospital and Outreach Education. A Pupil Referral Unit that provides teaching and support for 3-18 year-olds with complex medical and/or mental health needs that prevent them from attending school full-time. HOE also supports reintegration back into school, support across the transition, and guidance to schools.


See Hard of Hearing.

Home Start

Home Start is a home visiting service that is provided by Social Services or the local Health Service which trains and provides volunteers for visiting families at home to provide support.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus & Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV & AIDS)

The ‘human immunodeficiency virus’ (HIV) is a contagious virus that attacks a person’s immune system. It is transmitted by people sharing injecting equipment, people having unprotected sex, and from mothers to babies. HIV can lead to ‘acquired immune deficiency syndrome’ (AIDS), which is an incurable disease that occurs when an immune system becomes too weak to fight off infections (including potentially fatal illnesses like pneumonia, tuberculosis, meningitis, septicaemia, and cancer). However, HIV is easily preventable, and with early diagnosis and effective treatment, most people with HIV will not go on to develop AIDS.


See Health Visitor.


A condition in which fluid accumulates in the brain, typically in young children, enlarging the head and sometimes causing brain damage.


An intolerance to everyday sounds that causes significant distress and affects a person's day-to-day activities.


See Joint Hypermobility.

Hypersensitive / Hypersensitivity (Emotional Dysregulation)

When emotional responses that are poorly modulated, and do not fall within the conventionally accepted range of emotive responses. It is often associated with trauma (or PTSD), brain injury, chronic maltreatment, reactive attachment disorder, ADHD, personality disorders, bipolar disorder, and autism spectrum disorders (including Asperger syndrome). Sometimes referred to emotional dysregulation (ED).

Hypersensitive / Hypersensitivity (Intolerance)

A set of undesirable physical reactions produced by a normal immune system. They might be allergies (such as hayfever) or  autoimmunity (such as lupus).


See Hyperthyroidism.

Hyperthyroidism (HyperThyr)

A condition where the thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone. The most common cause is Graves’ disease. The main symptom is a speeding up of mental and physical processes (such as weight loss, and sweating). It can be treated with drugs and surgery. ) It is also known as an overactive thyroid.


A condition marked by an abnormal increase in muscle tension and a reduced ability of a muscle to stretch. It is caused by injury to motor pathways in the central nervous system, which carry information from the central nervous system to the muscles and control posture, muscle tone, and reflexes.

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM)

A genetic condition that causes the muscular wall of the heart to thicken, making it harder for the heart to pump blood. Symptoms include shortness of breath, chest pain, palpitations, and fainting, there is no cure for HCM, but symptoms can be controlled with drugs, a pacemaker, or an ICD.


A condition in which a person suddenly starts to breathe very quickly. It can lead to symptoms like light-headedness, tingling in the fingers, and loss of consciousness.


When a person’s blood glucose (blood sugar) drops below normal levels.

Hypokalemic Periodic Paralysis (HypoKPP)

A rare inherited muscle disorder that causes attacks of muscle weakness or paralysis when the level of potassium in the blood drops. During severe attacks the patient may be unable to move and even appear unconscious.


See Hypokalemic Periodic Paralysis.


See Hypopituitarism.

Hypopituitarism (Hypopit)

The medical term for an underactive pituitary gland. The pituitary gland is located in the brain and normally produces eight essential hormones. Hypopituitarism is when the gland does not release enough of one (or more) of those hormones. Symptoms depend on which hormones are affected. An endocrinologist can treat hypopituitarism with medications and regular blood-tests.

Hypothyroidism (Hypothyroid)

A condition where the thyroid gland produces too little thyroid hormone. The main symptom is a slowing down of mental and physical processes (such as sensitivity to the cold and a low mood). It is also known as an underactive thyroid.


See Hypothyroidism.


The medical term for decreased muscle tone. It is a symptom of something else, rather than a condition in its own right. It is commonly detected in babies soon after birth, and is sometimes referred to as ‘floppy baby syndrome.’ Treatment may involve physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and speech and language therapy.



See Information, Advice and Support Services Network.


See Inflammatory Bowel Disease.


See Irritable Bowel Syndrome.


See Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator.


See Intensive Care Unit.


See Intellectual Developmental Disability.

Ideational/Conceptual Apraxia

A motor disorder that affects a person’s ability to conceptualize a task and complete multistep actions (on command). See also: Apraxia.

Ideomotor Apraxia

A motor disorder that affects a person’s ability to perform motor actions that rely on memory (on command). See also: Apraxia.


A term used by medical professionals when a patient has an Intellectual developmental disability (IDD) or an early developmental impairment (EDI) for which no cause has yet been identified.


See Inborn Error of Metabolism.


See Individual Education Plan.


See Impaired Glucose Tolerance.


See Individual Learning Plan.

Impaired Glucose Tolerance (IGT / ImpairedGT)

A pre-diabetic state of hyperglycaemia that is associated with insulin resistance.


See Impaired Glucose Tolerance.

Impaired Participation (ImpPart)

When a person's ability to take part in every day activities or life situations is limited.

Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD)

A small device that treats people with dangerously abnormal heart rhythms. It monitors heart rhythm through the electrodes, and can deliver pacing, cardioversion, and defibrillation if necessary.


See Impaired Participation.

In-the-Canal (ITC) Hearing Aid/s

A medical device that helps users manage their hearing loss. Its working parts are located inside an ear-mould, so the whole device can fit inside the ear canal.

In-the-Ear (ITE) Hearing Aid/s

A medical device that helps users manage their hearing loss. It sits in the ear canal and the shell of the ear.

Inborn Error of Metabolism (IEM)

An umbrella term for a group of rare genetic disorders that affect the body's ability to turn food into energy. The disorders are usually caused by defects in specific proteins (enzymes) that help break down (metabolize) parts of food. Also known as congenital metabolic diseases or inherited metabolic diseases.


The concept of inclusion is closely linked to equality and diversity, and can mean different things in different contexts. In education, inclusion is the promotion of equal opportunities for all pupils, whatever their circumstances.  It pays particular attention to the provision made for different groups of pupils within a school.


See Area Inclusion Co-ordinator.

Independent Living

Support for adults to live in the community rather than in a residential home.

Independent Parental Special Education Advice (IPSEA)

A registered charity that provides free and independent legally-based advice for parents whose children have SEN and/or a disability. Their highly-trained volunteers deliver an advice helpline, a tribunal helpline, tribunal support, and SEN training for both carers and professionals.

Independent Parental Supporter

Provides information and practical support to parents/carers of children with special educational needs.

Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO)

IROs make an important contribution to the goal of significantly improving outcomes for looked after children. Their primary focus is to quality assure the care planning process for each child, and to ensure that his or her current wishes and feelings are given full consideration.

Independent School

This is a school that is neither maintained by an LA nor grants and which is registered under section 70 of the Education Act 1944. Section 189 of the Education Act 1993 sets out the conditions under which an independent school may be approved by the Secretary of State as being suitable for the admission of children with statements of SENs.

Independent Supporter

A person recruited locally by a voluntary or community sector organisation to help families going through an EHC needs assessment and the process of developing an EHC plan. This person is independent of the local authority and will receive training, including legal training, to enable him or her to provide this support.

Independent Training Provider

See Commercial and Charitable Providers.

Individual Education Plan (IEP)

A programme designed for children with SEN to help them to get the most out of their education. An IEP builds on the curriculum that a child with learning difficulties or disabilities is following, and sets out the strategies being used to meet that child's specific needs. Schools are no longer obliged to use this method for setting targets (but may choose to continue using them).

Individual Learning Plan (ILP)

See Individual Education Plan (IEP).

Infantile Spasms (IS)

A specific type of seizure seen in children with West Syndrome. West Syndrome is a form of childhood epilepsy characterized by infantile spasms, developmental regression, and a specific pattern of brain waves.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

A term mainly used to describe two conditions, ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. Both involve inflammation of the gut (gastrointestinal tract).

Information, Advice and Support Services Network (IASS)

Provides free, confidential, and impartial advice, guidance and support to parents of children with special educational needs and children / young people with SEND. Previously known as Northamptonshire Parent Partnership Services (NPPS).

Inherited Metabolic Disease

See Inborn Error of Metabolism (IEM).

Insecure Attachment (InsecureAttach)

A term from attachment theory, which is a psychological model dedicated to the dynamics interpersonal relationships. Insecure attachment is when a bond (between an infant and an adult) lacks consistency, responsiveness and a full sense of trust. It may cause the infant to feel angry, anxious, distressed, or conflicted.


See Insecure Attachment.

Insulin-Dependent Diabetes

See Diabetes Mellitus, and Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus (DM1).

Insulin Resistance

See Diabetes Mellitus, and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (DM2).

Intellectual Developmental Disability (IDD)

An umbrella term that describes disorders (usually present at birth) that negatively affect the trajectory of an individual’s physical, intellectual, and/or emotional development.

Intensive Care Unit (ICU)

A special department of a hospital or health care facility that provides intensive treatment medicine. ICUs contain a variety of specialised equipment, which may vary from one unit to another. Medically induced comas, analgesics, and induced sedation are commonly used in ICUs to reduce pain and prevent secondary infections. Also known as intensive treatment units (ITU) or critical care units (CCU).

Intensive Treatment Unit (ITU)

See Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

Intrathecal Baclofen Therapy (ITB)

Baclofen is a muscle-relaxant drug used to relieve the stiffness caused by spasticity (tight muscle tone). Often, the most practical and precise way for a person to take Baclofen is with ITB, where the drug is delivered directly into the spinal fluid (using a pump implanted under the skin of the abdomen and connected to a thin flexible catheter).   


See Independent Parental Special Education Advice.


See Independent Reviewing Officer.

Iron Deficiency Anaemia (FeDeficiency)

A condition where a lack of iron in the body leads to a reduction in the number of red blood cells. Iron is used to produce red blood cells, which help store and carry oxygen in the blood. If you have fewer red blood cells than is normal, your organs and tissues won't get as much oxygen as they usually would. The most common symptoms are tiredness, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, and a pale complexion. Treatment involves taking iron supplements, and the condition rarely causes long-term problems.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

A common, long-term condition of the digestive system that causes stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhoea, and/or constipation. The exact cause of IBS is unknown, and there is no cure. However, the symptoms can often be managed by making diet and lifestyle changes. Medication is sometimes prescribed to control symptoms.


See Infantile Spasms.


See Intrathecal Baclofen Therapy.

ITC Hearing Aid/s

See In-the-Canal Hearing Aid/s.

ITE Hearing Aid/s

See In-the-Ear Hearing Aid/s.


See Independent Training Provider.


See Intensive Treatment Unit.


See Area Inclusion Co-Ordinator.


Jejmy or Jejunostomy

The surgical creation of an opening (fistula) through the skin at the front of the abdomen and the wall of the jejunum (part of the small intestine)

Joint Hypermobility

A general term for when a person's joints have an unusually large range of movement. Many people with hypermobile joints might be said to have ‘loose joints’ or be ‘double-jointed,’ and don't have any problems. However, some people with joint hypermobility might experience symptoms such as pain and stiffness, clicking joints, joints that dislocate easily, fatigue, digestive problems, dizziness, and stretchy skin. In these cases, it’s known as joint hypermobility syndrome (JHS). Hypermobility can lead to chronic pain or even disability in severe cases. It has also been associated with chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. Related terms: ligamentous laxity, ligament laxity, and loose ligaments.

Joint Hypermobility Syndrome (JHS)

See Joint Hypermobility.

Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA)

JSNAs are mostly used by health and social care commissioners to plan local services. A Joint Strategic Needs Assessment looks at the current (and future) health and care needs of a local population to inform the planning and commissioning (buying) of health, wellbeing, and social care services within a local authority area.


See Joint Strategic Needs Assessment.

Juvenile Diabetes

See Diabetes Mellitus, and Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus (DM1).


Key Stages

The different stages of education that a child passes through also known as KS1, KS2, KS3, KS4 and KS5.

Key Stage five

Age 16+ (Sixth form or college).

Key Stage four

Age 14 to 16 (Years 10 and 11).

Key Stage three

Age 11 to 14 (Years 7, 8 and 9).

Key Stage two

Age 7 to  11 (Years 3, 4, 5 and 6).

Key Stage one

Age 5 to 7 (Years 1 and 2).


Someone who provides children, young people and parents with a single point of contact to help make sure the support they receive is co-ordinated. A keyworker could be provided directly by a local authority or local health organisation, a school or college, or from a voluntary or private sector body.


Excessive curvature of the spine


See Key Stages



Local Authority


See Looked After Child.

Lactose Intolerant

Unable to break down/digest the sugar (lactose) found in milk

LI or Language Impairment

Language Impaired includes students who have difficulty with the sound systems of language, the structure of words, the meaning of words, the relationship of words in sentences, or the functional use of language.

Laryngomal or Laryngomalacia

Laryngomalacia (literally, "soft larynx") is the most common cause of stridor in infancy, in which the soft, immature cartilage of the upper larynx collapses inward during inhalation, causing airway obstruction. It can also be seen in older patients, especially those with neuromuscular conditions resulting in weakness of the muscles of the throat. However, the infantile form is much more common


Learning Difficulties


Learning Disability Assessment


Local Education Authority

Learning Difficulties

Difficulties in acquiring knowledge and skills to the normal level expected of those of the same age, especially because of mental disability or cognitive disorder.

Learning Difficulty Assessment

No longer used, as an EHC Plan covers from 0 - 25 years old. The Learning Difficulty Assessment was similar to a statement of SEN in that it set out what additional learning support a young person would need when continuing their education. It was specifically for young people moving into some form of Post-16 education or training. Also known as LDA; 139A

Learning Support Assistant (LSA)

A widely used job title for an assistant providing in-school support for pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities. An LSA will normally work with a particular pupil or pupils providing close support to the individual pupil and assistance to those responsible for teaching him/her. Also known as LSA.

Life Limiting Illness

A life-limiting illness is a chronic disease or condition that doesn't respond to curative treatments, leading to a terminal diagnosis

Ligament / Ligamentous Laxity

See Joint Hypermobility.

Limb-Kinetic Apraxia

A motor disorder that affects a person’s ability to move an arm or leg (on command). See also: Apraxia.


Lipreading involves the Deafblind person watching the lip shapes, gestures and facial movements of the person they are talking to so that they get a fuller understanding of what they are saying.

Liquid Diet

A diet comprising of liquid foods


See Local Offer

Local Authority

Local authorities are administrative offices which provide services within their local areas. There are 152 across England which are education authorities. For more information about local Government, please visit the types of council section on

Locality Forum

Locality Forums will understand and respond to the specific needs of the local area, based on a clear understanding of the profile of that local area and the universal and early intervention service provision that is available. Locality Forums will have a sharper focus on local priorities and outcomes for children and families. These meetings will be action focussed and have performance measures to be reported to the Children's and Young People’s Partnership Board.

Local Offer

Local authorities in England are required to set out in their Local Offer information about provision they expect to be available across education, health and social care for children and young people in their area who have SEN or a disability. Local authorities must consult locally on what provision the Local Offer should contain.

Looked After Child (LAC)

Under the Children Act 1989, a child is legally defined as ‘looked after’ by a local authority if he or she is under 18 years old and has either been provided with accommodation (for a continuous period of more than 24 hours), is subject to a care order, or is subject to a placement order. See also Child Looked After (CLA).

Loose Joints / Loose Ligaments

See Joint Hypermobility.


Lower forward spinal curvature.

Low Risk of Malnutrition

Subdivision of Risk of nutritional problem


Low risk of malnutrition. Subdivision of risk of nutritional problem


Lower Respiratory Tract Infection also known as Pneumonia


See Learning Support Assistant

Local Safeguarding Children’s Board Northamptonshire (LSCBN)

The Local Safeguarding Children Board is the successor to the Area Child Protection Committee. The Board is made up of representatives from a range of public agencies with a common interest and with duties and responsibilities to children in their area. It has responsibility for ensuring effective inter-agency working together to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in the area. Now known as the NSCB.





Large head

Mainstream School

This is a school, primary or secondary, that provides education for all children, whether or not they have special educational needs or disabilities.

Maintained school

Schools in England that are maintained by a local authority – any community, foundation or voluntary school, community special or foundation special school.


A system of communication that involves the combined use of manual signs and speech.


Maldevelopment of brain on neuroimaging.

Manic Depression

See Bipolar Disorder.

Martin-Bell Syndrome

See Fragile X Syndrome (FraX / FXS).

MASH or Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub

MASH is made up of police, other emergency services, probation, social services and the NHS working in the same office and sharing information, thereby allowing cases to be dealt with much more quickly. MASH is a central communications section to tackle the issue of child protection. Also known as MASH.


Multicystic dysplastic kidney


See Myalgic Encephalomyelitis.


This is a statutory service commissioned by local authorities, which is designed to help settle disagreements between parents or young people and local authorities over EHC needs assessments and plans. Parents and young people can use mediation before deciding whether to appeal to the First-Tier Tribunal about decisions on assessment or the special educational element of a plan. Mediation can cover any one or all three elements of an EHC plan, and must be offered to the parent or young person when the final plan is issued. Please note: families cannot appeal to the Tribunal about the health and social care aspects of the plan.

Medium Risk of Malnutrition

Medium risk of malnutrition. Subdivision of Risk of nutritional problem


Medically unexplained symptoms


Brain lining inflamed, caused by bacterial or viral infection

Mental Health

a person’s condition with regard to their psychological and emotional well-being.


Small head

Middle Ear Implant/s

A medical device that helps users manage their hearing loss. Middle ear implants rely on a working cochlea and hearing nerve. They are considered when conventional hearing aid/s, and bone anchored hearing aid/s (BAHAs) prove unsuitable. Middle ear implants consist of an internal (surgically implanted) receiver and an external processor. The receiver amplifies sound by adding extra movement into the natural hearing pathway.   


A recurrent throbbing headache that typically affects one side of the head and is often accompanied by nausea and disturbed vision.


Mild Intellectual Developmental Disability (IQ 50-70). Synonyms include ‘mild learning disability’, ‘mild mental retardation’. Equivalent mental age as adult of 9-12 years. Likely to acquire sufficient speech for every day purposes and full independence in self-care (eating, washing, dressing, bladder and bowel control), albeit at a slower rate of skill acquisition. Many children struggle with academic work at school, especially with reading and writing. Many adults will be able to work in roles that demand practical rather than academic abilities. Many adults have good social relationships and contribute to society.


See Moderate Learning Difficulties


Measles, Mumps and Rubella Vaccine

Mobility Difficulty

The ability not to move physically


Moderate bilateral sensori-neural hearing loss (average loss 41-70 dBHL)

Moderate Learning Difficulties (MLD)

Pupils with MLDs will have attainments significantly below expected levels in most areas of the curriculum despite appropriate interventions. Their needs will not be able to be met by normal differentiation and the flexibilities of the National Curriculum. They should only be recorded as MLD if additional educational provision is being made to help them to access the curriculum. Pupils with MLDs have much greater difficulty than their peers in acquiring basic literacy and numeracy skills and in understanding concepts. They may also have an associated speech and language delay, low self-esteem, low levels of concentration and under-developed social skills.


One limb paralysis


Scheme to rent a vehicle using DLA or PIP payments to cover the costs. You must be in receipt of Higher Rate mobility component of DLA or PIP.

Motor impairment

Difficulties with movement of parts of the body.

Motor Neurone Disease

A progressive disease involving degeneration of the motor neurons and wasting of the muscles.

MRI (scan)

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (scan)


See Multi-Sensory Impairment


Musculoskeletal pain.


Multi Systemic Therapy is an evidence based therapy for young people aged 11-17, and their families, who are at risk of coming into care or custody due to their behaviour.  It is an intensive home-based treatment and offers a structured approach to teaching young people and their parents how to manage their emotions and improve their relationships.


A team consisting of more than one professional involved in the care and education of your child. For example, a teacher, a physiotherapist and a doctor

Multiple Sclerosis

A chronic, typically progressive disease involving damage to the sheaths of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, whose symptoms may include numbness, impairment of speech and of muscular coordination, blurred vision, and severe fatigue.

Multi-Sensory Impairment (MSI)

Multi-Sensory Impairment. Pupils with MSI have a combination of visual and hearing difficulties. They are sometimes referred to as deafblind but may have some residual sight and/or hearing. Many also have additional disabilities but their complex needs mean it may be difficult to ascertain their intellectual abilities. Pupils with MSI have much greater difficulty accessing the curriculum and the environment than those with a single sensory impairment. They have difficulties in perception, communication and in the acquisition of information. Incidental learning is limited. The combination can result in high anxiety and multi-sensory deprivation. Pupils need teaching approaches that make good use of their residual hearing and vision, together with their other senses. They may need alternative means of communication.

Muscle Tone

Refers to the amount of tension or resistance in a muscle which enables movement

Music therapy

Form of therapy often used to help communicate and build relationships with people who are non-verbal or have problems with verbal communication, through the use of playing, singing and listening to music.


Movement disorder

Myalgic Encephalopathy (ME)

See Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.


Irregular jerking movements/spasms of limbs and trunk


Muscle weakness

Myotonia Congenita

Inability of muscles to quickly relax after involuntary contraction



No abnormality detected


non-accidental injury to child. Safeguarding/Child Protection.

Named Local Authority Officer

An officer of the Children’s Services Department who will deal with your child’s case. This is usually the Principal Special Needs Officer.


National Autistic Society


Nasal obstruction

National Curriculum

This sets out a clear, full and statutory entitlement to learning for all pupils, setting out what should be taught and setting attainment targets for learning. It also determines how performance will be assessed and reported. The national curriculum is taught in a way that meets the needs of individual pupils, eg setting goals that are achievable.

National Offender Management Service (NOMS) 

NOMS is an executive agency of the Ministry of Justice and is responsible for the running of prison and probation services. They are responsible for rehabilitation services, ensuring support is available to stop people re-offending. NOMS also contract-manage private sector prisons and services (such as the Prisoner Escort Service and electronic tagging), and the 35 Probation Trusts.


Northamptonshire County Council

Neurological disorder

This is a high level term for all neurological disorders. Where there is diagnostic or aetiological uncertainty, a referral should be made to paediatric neurodisability or paediatric neurology.


Looks at diagnosing, treating and manages disorders of the brain

NG tube

Nasogastric tube inserted into the stomach via the nose to aid feeding.


See Nasogastric tube


National Health Service. (See NHS England)

NHS Continuing Healthcare

NHS Continuing Healthcare is the name given to a package of care that is arranged and funded solely by the NHS for individuals aged 18 and over who are not in hospital but have complex ongoing healthcare needs. It can be provided in any setting, for example in the home or in a residential care home.

NHS England

NHS England is an independent body, at arm’s length to the government and held to account through the NHS mandate. It has three aims. Firstly, to improve health outcomes for people in England by providing national leadership for improving outcomes and driving up the quality of care. Secondly, to oversee the operation of clinical commissioning groups and allocate resources. Thirdly, to commission primary care and specialist services.

Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (NHFT)

NHS foundation trusts are not-for-profit corporations that provide NHS hospital, mental health and ambulance services. NHS foundation trusts are not directed by the Government, but are accountable to their local communities through their members and governors, to their commissioners 272 through contracts and to Parliament through their annual report and accounts. Foundation trusts are registered with and inspected by the Care Quality Commission.

NHS Mandate

The NHS Mandate is issued by the government to NHS England. It sets out the government’s ambition for the National Health Service and provides direction to NHS England. The mandate will be reviewed annually.

NHS Trust

NHS trusts are public sector bodies that provide community health, hospital, mental health and ambulance services on behalf of the NHS in England and Wales. Each trust is headed by a board consisting of executive and non-executive directors, and is chaired by a non-executive director.


National Institute for Clinical Excellence


Neonatal Intensive Care Unit


Neuroimaging abnormal result


Northants Inclusion Mentoring Partnership


Neuromuscular disorder


See National Offender Management Service.


No neurodisabling condition detected


No neurodevelopmental condition detected

Non-Maintained Special School

Schools in England approved by the Secretary of State under section 342 of the Education Act 1996 as special schools which are not maintained by the state but charge fees on a non-profit-making basis. Most non-maintained special schools are run by major charities or charitable trusts.

Non-Verbal Communication

Many congenitally Deafblind and multi-sensory-impaired people with no formal verbal communication methods will use non-verbal improvised forms instead. Through observation it is often possible to understand the meaning of these unique methods of communication and to learn how to react to and interact with the Deafblind person.

Northamptonshire Parent Partnership Service (NPPS)

Obsolete. Provided impartial advice and information to parents whose children have special educational needs. The service offered neutral and factual support on all aspects of the SEN framework to help parents play an active and informed role in their child’s education. Now known as Independent Advice and Support Service (IASS).

Note in Lieu of a Statement (NIL)

Obsolete. A document in which the local authority would set out the reasons for its decision not to make a statement after a statutory assessment. Replaced by SEN Support Plans in 2014.


See Northamptonshire Parent Partnership Service.



A term used when describing a person who is deemed very overweight. It might cause extra difficulties if it coexists with certain disabilities.

Objects of Reference

Some congenitally Deafblind or multi-sensory-impaired people learn to use particular objects to symbolise a significant activity. For example, a towel may indicate swimming, or a fork may be used to show that it is time for a meal. This method allows people who are Deafblind to make choices and enables others to let them know what is planned.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

A serious anxiety disorder with two main elements. Obsessions are unwelcome thoughts, images, or urges that repeatedly appear in a person's mind (for example, being contaminated by germs, or feeling a sudden urge to hurt someone). Compulsions are repetitive activities that a person feels driven to perform (for example, hand-washing to prevent germs, or repeating a specific phrase to prevent harm coming to a loved one). The aim of the compulsion is to relieve any anxiety caused by the obsessive thoughts. However, the process of repeating these compulsions is often distressing in itself, and any relief is often short-lived.

Occupational Therapist (OT)

Occupational Therapists (OT) help children with difficulties with activities in daily life. For example, this may include seating, drinking, school equipment and aids. You may have an OT from the Health Service and also from Social Services for your child.

Oculomotor Apraxia

A motor disorder that affects a person’s ability to move their eyes (on command). See also: Apraxia.


See Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.


See Oppositional Defiant Disorder.


Abnormal accumulation of fluid in body

Ofsted (Office for Standards in Education)

Ofsted is the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills. They report directly to Parliament and are independent and impartial. They inspect and regulate services which care for children and young people, and those providing education and skills for learners of all ages.


See Otitis Media with Effusion.


Specialises in treatment for cancer


An eye specialist, based in hospitals, who is qualified to deal with eye defects and disease.

Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD)

A Disruptive Behaviour Disorder in children, characterised by rebellious and argumentative behaviour that is particularly directed towards authority figures, such as parents or teachers. The main form of treatment is cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT).


Irregular eye movements – vertical and horizontal

Opsoclonus myoclonus

Characterised by unsteady gait, brief spasms, irregular eye movements and speech difficulties

Optic Atrophy

Degeneration of optic nerve causing loss of sight


An Optometrist is usually based at a hospital or opticians and specialise in measuring eye sight and prescribing glasses


Organic acidaemia

Orofacial Apraxia

See Buccofacial / Orofacial Apraxia.


Branch of dentistry specialised with the growth and development of the face

Orthopaedic Surgeon

Specialising in assessing and correction of bones and joints


A specialist in correcting visual problems through non surgical means such as exercises


Provides range of specialized footwear, splints and braces to aid movement, help correct deformities and relieve pain and discomfort


Obstructive sleep apnoea.

Otitis Media with Effusion (OME)

See Glue Ear.

Overactive Thyroid

See Hyperthyroidism.


Paediatric Neurologist

Your paediatrician may refer your child to a Neurologist if the need arises for a special consultation.


Doctor specialising in the needs of babies and children.

Palliative Medicine Consultant

Pain control management for advanced, progressive and life threatening illnesses.


Heart palpitations are heartbeats that suddenly become more noticeable.


See Patient Advice Liaison Service

Panic Disorder

An anxiety disorder that causes a person recurring and regular panic attacks, often for no apparent reason.   

Patient Advice Liaison Service (PALS)

"The Patient Advice and Liaison Service, known as PALS, has been introduced to ensure that the NHS listens to patients, their relatives, carers and friends, and answers their questions and resolves their concerns as quickly as possible. PALS also helps the NHS to improve services by listening to what matters to patients and their loved ones and making changes, when appropriate."


Trained in all aspects of emergency care


Impairments in sensory or motor function of the lower half of the body.


Under section 576 of the Education Act 1996, the term ‘parent’ includes any person who is not a parent of the child, but has parental responsibility or who cares for him or her.

Parent Carer Forum

A Parent Carer Forum is a representative local group of parents and carers of disabled children who work with local authorities, education, health and other providers to make sure the services they plan and deliver meet the needs of disabled children and families. They have been established in most local authority areas.

Parental Responsibility (PR)

Parental responsibility is defined under Section 3 (1) of the Children Act 1989 as meaning all the duties, rights, powers, responsibilities and authority which parents have with respect to their children and their children’s property. Under Section 2 of the Children Act 1989, parental responsibility falls upon:

  • All mothers and fathers who were married to each other at the time of the child’s birth (including those who have since separated or divorced).
  • Mothers who were not married to the father at the time of the child’s birth.
  • Fathers who were not married to the mother at the time of the child’s birth, but have obtained parental responsibility. This could be by agreement with the child’s mother or through a court order Under Section 12 of the Children Act 1989. The latter is when a court makes a residence order in favour of any person who is not the parent or guardian of the child, which means that person will have parental responsibility for the child while the residence order remains in force. Under section 33 (3) of the Children Act 1989, while a care order is in force with respect to a child, the social services department designated by the order will have parental responsibility for that child. They will also have the power (subject to certain provisions) to determine the extent to which a parent or guardian of the child may meet his or her parental responsibility for the child. The social services department cannot have parental responsibility for a child unless that child is the subject of a care order. Occasionally they might (for very limited purposes) where an emergency protection order is in force under Section 44 of the Children Act 1989.

Partial Seizure

See Focal Seizure (FocSeiz).

Pathfinder information packs

The SEND pathfinder programme was launched in September 2011 and ended at the end of March 2014.

Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA)

The central difficulty for people with PDA is their avoidance of the everyday demands made by other people, due to their high anxiety levels when they feel that they are not in control. Hence the name of the syndrome: pathological demand avoidance.


Specialist in detection of disease


Polycycstic ovarian syndrome

PCT or Primary Care Trust

A primary care trust (PCT) was a type of NHS trust, part of the National Health Service in England. PCTs were largely administrative bodies, responsible for commissioning primary, community and secondary health services from providers. See Clinical Commissioning Groups for further details


See Physical Disabilities


see Picture Exchange Communication System


See Percutaneous Endoscopic Gastrostomy.


See Personal Education Plan

Percutaneous Endoscopic Gastrostomy (PEG)

See Gastrostomy.


Disorder of periods/menstruation. These include parental concern about how their child or young person and themselves will deal with the onset of periods as well as practical problems with pain, heavy bleeding etc.

Peripheral cyanosis

Poor circulation causing blue discolouration of skin

Peripheral Neuropathy

Damage to nervous system, which transports information from brain and spinal cord to other parts of the body

Periventricular leukomalacia (PVL)

Lack of oxygen or blood flow to periventricular area of brain, resulting in the loss of brain tissue, affects foetuses and newborns.

Person Centred Approach

A way of working with a person to find out what is important and meaningful to them.

Personal Budget

A Personal Budget is an amount of money identified by the local authority to deliver provision set out in an EHC plan where the parent or young person is involved in securing that provision. The funds can be held directly by the parent or young person, or may be held and managed on their behalf by the local authority, school, college or other organisation or individual and used to commission the support specified in the EHC plan.

Personal Education Plan (PEP)

An element of a Care Plan maintained by a local authority in respect of a looked after child, which sets out the education needs of the child. If a looked after child has an EHC plan, the regular reviews of the EHC plan should, where possible, coincide with reviews of the Personal Education Plan.

Personal Independence Payment

This is a new benefit replacing Disability Living Allowance for those over 16. Personal Independence Payment helps with some of the extra costs caused by long-term ill-health or a disability. It is being phased in over the next few years.


The provision of tailored care and support to individuals based on their needs and choices they make about how they live their lives.

Personality Disorder

A deeply ingrained and maladaptive pattern of behaviour of a specified kind, typically apparent by the time of adolescence, causing long-term difficulties in personal relationships or in functioning in society.

Pervasive development disorder (PDD)

Group of disorders characterised by delays in development, socialization and communication skills

Pes cavus

High arched feet, plus other foot deformities caused by imbalance between muscles in feet


Advice for medicine and drugs


Takes blood


An anxiety disorder that causes a person overwhelming and debilitating fear of an object, place, situation, feeling, or animal. They develop when a person has an unrealistic sense of danger about a situation or object.

Physical Disability

This is a high level term to cover all physical disabilities. If it is not clear from clinical assessment what the cause of the physical disability is, further investigations should be undertaken or further expert clinical opinions sought e.g. neurodisability or neurology.

Physical Impairment

A condition that substantially limits one or more basic physical activities, such as walking, climbing stairs, reaching, lifting, or carrying.


All disorders affecting movements, posture, balance and coordination


A Physiotherapist specialises in motor and physical development and implements a suitable programme of exercises and equipment for your Special Needs child if required. Physio


Pica involves a person eating any objects that are not suitable for consumption (and have no nutritional value). Those objects could be any number of things, for example, chalk, plaster, paint, fabric, paper, clay, metal, soil, glass, or sand. Whilst some objects pass through the body without harm, pica can be very dangerous. It has been linked to mental and emotional disorders, but if often seen in pregnant women, small children, and those with developmental disabilities (such as autism spectrum disorder).

Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)

Picture based communication system commonly used be pre-verbal or non-verbal children and young people.

Picture symbols

Picture symbols are sometimes used to support the development of language, either accompanying text or in their own right.


Paediatric Intensive Care Unit


"Progressive Intellectual and Neurological Deterioration. This is defined as:

  • progressive deterioration for more than 3 months
  • WITH loss of previously attained intellectual/developmental abilities
  • AND development of abnormal neurological signs."


See Personal Independence Payment


Distortion in shape of head


Platelet disorder

Play Therapy

The use of play to help children act out and understand difficult life experiences and anxiety in order to reduce anxiety, improve self esteem and better manage their emotions.

Playgroups - Sessional Playgroup

This is a group registered as a sessional facility or service, offering sessional care and education for children mainly aged three to five years of age cared for with or without parents. No single session lasts more than four hours and no main meal is provided by the group. Such groups are known under a variety of names but they are all registered as playgroups.


See Profound Multiple Learning Difficulties


Infection or inflammation in lung tissue


Diagnoses, treats and advice given regards foot problems


Inflammatory disorder of skeletal muscles, causing muscle weakness of varying degrees


Home based pre-school education for children with developmental delay, disabilities or any other special educational needs. Portage home visitors work in partnership with parents, helping parents to help their child through learning activities within the home.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

An anxiety disorder caused by very stressful, frightening or distressing events. Someone with PTSD often relives the traumatic event through nightmares and flashbacks, and may experience feelings of isolation, irritability and guilt.


See Parental Responsibility.

Prader-Willi Syndrome

A complex genetic disorder that causes people an insatiable appetite. It's caused by a defect in the hypothalamus that results in them never feeling full. People with Prader-Willi syndrome are often overweight and may steal food, eat pet food, and eat spoiled food, all in a bid to satisfy their appetite. Children born with Prader-Willi Syndrome may have early feeding problems that lead to tube feeding, and they often also have a degree of behavioural or mental health problems and/or learning disabilities.

Precocious Puberty

Developed or mature, especially mentally, at an unusual early age, or showing such advanced development. Treatment from paediatric endocrinology specialists can delay pubertal progress.

Preparing for Adulthood

Preparing for Adulthood is a National programme providing knowledge and support to local authorities and their partners, including families and young people, so they can ensure disabled young people achieve paid work, independent living, good health and community inclusion as they move into adulthood.


Profound Intellectual Developmental Disability (IQ <20) Synonyms include ‘profound learning disability’, ‘profound mental retardation’. Equivalent to mental age as adult of less than 3 years. Severe limitation in self-care, continence, communication and mobility.

Profound and Multiple Learning Disability

A term used to describe a person with more than one disability, with the most significant being a learning disability. Many children diagnosed with PMLD will also have a sensory or physical disability, complex health needs, or mental health difficulties.

Profound Neurosensal Hearing Loss

A type of hearing impairment


Designs and fits artificial limbs


Protective Behaviours. A a framework for personal safety that enables children, young people and adults to identify what ‘safe’ means to them, how their body tells them when they don’t feel safe, and strategies to help them feel safe again.


See Pupil Referral Unit


Medically qualified doctor who specialises in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mental health conditions.

Psychological Difficulties

Mental health problems


A severe mental disorder in which thought and emotions are so impaired that contact is lost with external reality.


Advice/help to overcome stress, anxieties, emotional and behavioural problems


Pastoral Support Plan. A school-based programme meant to help a child improve their social, emotional and behavioural skills.




Drooping of one or both eyelids


See Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.


Pelviuriteric junction obstruction

Pupil Referral Unit

A specialist school run by local authorities which provides education for children who cannot attend a conventional school. Includes children with behavioural or medical problems, mothers and pregnant schoolgirls, children who are school phobic or who are awaiting a school place.


Private Voluntary Independent Childcare and Early Years Education provider


See Periventricular Leukolmalacia



Works within the radiology and imaging department taking X-rays, MRIs and CTs.

RAS or Resource Allocation System

A Resource Allocation System (RAS) is any set of rules that allows fair allocations to be made to people who need extra support. 


Royal College of Paediatrics and Health

Reasonable Adjustments

Reasonable adjustments are changes schools and other settings are required to make which could include: changes to physical features - for example, creating a ramp so that students can enter a classroom or providing support and aids (such as specialist teachers or equipment)

Receiver in-the Canal (RIC) Hearing Aid/s

See Receiver in-the-Ear Hearing Aid/s.

Receiver in-the Ear (RITE) Hearing Aid/s

A medical device that helps users manage their hearing loss. They’re similar to behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids, in that part of the device sits behind the ear. However, the receiver piece goes inside the ear canal, allowing the RITE hearing aids to be smaller. Sometimes known as receiver-in-the-canal (RIC) hearing aid/s.

Recurrent chest infect

Recurrent lower respiratory tract infections.


Recurrent infections


Stomach acid contents flow back up into gullet/oesophagus


Reflux nephropathy


Doctor in advanced stage of training towards becoming a consultant

Renal failure

Inability of the kidneys to excrete wastes and to help maintain the electrolyte balance


Renal dilatation

Resourced Provision

A special needs resource within a  mainstream school. The school will have separate places that are reserved for pupils with a specific type of SEN (to treat as their base). The child will be mainly taught within mainstream classes, but might have some extra specialist facilities around the school. Previously referred to as a Designated Special Provision (DSP).

Restricted Growth Condition

Restricted growth (dwarfism) is a condition characterised by short stature. It can be caused by several different medical conditions.


Treatment and care for joint, muscle and soft tissue disorders

RIC Hearing Aid/s

See Receiver in-the-Ear Hearing Aid/s.

Risk of nutritional problem

Any difficulty with eating, drinking, chewing or swallowing that presents a risk to nutritional sufficiency. These children and young people require expert multi-disciplinary assessment including with a specialist speech and language therapist with competence in dysphagia in children and young people.

RITE Hearing Aid/s

See Receiver in-the-Ear Hearing Aid/s.



School Action (obsolete). The level of SEN support provided (solely) by a mainstream school. Replaced with "SEN Support" in 2014.

SALD or Speech and Language Delay (SALD)

Speech is the sound that comes out of our mouths. When it is not understood by others there is a problem. Language has to do with meanings, rather than sounds. Language is a measure of intelligence and language delays are more serious than speech problems. Language delay is when a child’s language is developing in the right sequence, but at a slower rate. Speech and language disorder describes abnormal language development. Delayed speech or language development is the most common developmental problem. It affects five to ten percent of preschool kids.


School Action Plus (obsolete). The level of SEN support provided by a mainstream school when working alongside external specialist/s. Replaced with "SEN Support" in 2014.


Special Care Baby Unit


See Service Children’s Education.


A serious mental disorder characterized by abnormal social behaviour and a failure to understand reality. Common symptoms include false beliefs, unclear or confused thinking, hearing voices, reduced social engagement and emotional expression, and a lack of motivation.


School non-attendance. Lack of attendance sufficient to interfere with academic progress (investigation of).

School medical officer

A doctor who monitors your child’s health to ensure that it does not stop him or her from learning. The medical officer may do regular check-ups on your child if he or she has a physical, sensory or medical problem.


Scoliosis deformity of spine or curvature of the spine is another complication of the cerebral palsies, especially in those less mobile in GMFCS levels IV and V. Scoliosis can also be a secondary disabling or complication in a range of other neurodisabling conditions.


See Serious Case Reviews.


See Systemic Exertion Intolerance Disease.


Seizure disorder

Selective Mutism

Selective mutism is a severe anxiety disorder where a person is unable to speak in certain social situations, such as with classmates at school or to relatives they don't see very often. Children with selective mutism are physically capable of normal speech and comprehension.


Self-harm. Intentional, direct injuring of body tissue.

Self-injurious Behaviour/s

Pattern of behaviour harmful to the self, experienced in the context of a developmental disorder e.g. ASD

Semantic Pragmatic Disorder

Semantic pragmatic disorder is a communication disorder, which crosses the boundaries of both specific language impairment and autistic spectrum disorder.


See Social, Emotional and Mental Health Difficulties (SEMH)


See Special Educational Needs and Disabilities.

SEN Support

A single category for 0-25s who need extra specialist support (but not an EHC Plan. It places young people at the centre of planning and makes education-providers more accountable for their progress. It replaced SA (School Action), SAP (School Action Plus), EYA (Early Years Action), and EYAP (Early Years Action Plus) in 2014.

SEN Support Plan

A plan that either an early years setting, a school, or a local college will use to ensure a child or young person's needs are successfully met (where an EHC Plan is not required). Replaced the Note in Lieu of a Statement in 2014.

SEN Unit

A special needs resource within a  mainstream school. An SEN unit is a special provision where children are mainly taught within separate classes. Each child will have an EHC plan. Previously referred to as a Designated Special Provision (DSP).    


See Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator.


See Special Educational Needs and Disabilities.


See First-Tier Tribunal - Special Educational Needs and Disability.

Sensori-Neural Hearing Loss

This term should be used where the level of hearing impairment has not been more precisely defined and should prompt referrals to audiology and ENT to more precisely define the nature of the hearing impairment.

Sensory Impairment

Impairment of special senses (hearing or vision).

Sensory integration dysfunction

Under or over reacts to sensory input

Sensory Sensitivities

Often seen in children and young people with autism spectrum disorders and severe intellectual impairments. These may include aversive sensory sensitivities e.g. to particular sounds, textures, foods etc. or craving for sensory experiences such as chewing, sniffing, licking or posting objects into orifices.

Serious Allergy

A damaging immune response by the body to a substance, especially a particular food, pollen, fur, or dust, to which it has become hypersensitive.

Serious Case Review (SCR)

Serious case reviews has four objectives. Firstly, to establish whether lessons can be learned from the case, in terms of the way local professionals and organisations work individually and together to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. Secondly, to identify clearly what those lessons are (both within and between agencies), how and within what timescales the lessons will be acted upon, and what is expected to change as a result. Thirdly, to improve intra and inter-agency working. Fourthly, to improve safeguarding and promote the welfare of children.

Service Children’s Education

SCE oversees the education of UK Service children abroad. It is funded by the Ministry of Defence and operates its own schools as well as providing advice to parents on UK and overseas schools.


Severe bilateral sensori-neural hearing loss (average loss 71-95 dBNL)


Severe bilateral visual impairment

Severe And Profound Learning Disability (SLD)

Pupils with SLDs have significant intellectual or cognitive impairments. This has a major effect on their ability to participate in the school curriculum without support. They may also have difficulties in mobility and coordination, communication and perception and the acquisition of self-help skills. Pupils with SLDs will need support in all areas of the curriculum. They may also require teaching of self-help, independence and social skills. Some pupils may use sign and symbols but most will be able to hold simple conversations. Their attainments may be within the upper P scale range (P4-P8) for much of their school careers (that is below level 1 of the National Curriculum).

Severe bilateral visual impairment

Blind = Severely sight impaired (level required to be registered as blind) - corrected vision <3/60 with full visual field, 3/60-6/60 with severely reduced visual field e.g. tunnel vision or 6/60 or above but with a very reduced field of vision, especially if a lot of vision lost in lower part of field.


Severe Intellectual Developmental Disability (IQ 20-34). Synonyms include ‘severe learning disability’, ‘severe mental retardation’. Equivalent mental age as adult of 3-6 years. Likely to lead to continuous need for support.


Severe unilateral visual impairment

Short breaks

Short breaks can last from just a few hours to a few days – from daytime and evening activities to weekend and overnight or maybe longer. They can take place in a community setting, the child’s own home, the home of an approved carer or in a residential setting. They also provide parents and families with a necessary and valuable break from caring responsibilities.

Short stature

Short stature is defined as height that is two standard deviations below the mean height for age and sex (less than the 3rd percentile) or more than two standard deviations below the mid-parental height. For more information see .


See Sensory Impairment

Sickle Cell Disease

A severe hereditary form of anaemia in which a mutated form of haemoglobin distorts the red blood cells into a crescent shape at low oxygen levels.


Sickle cell disease


Significant learning disability = learning disability that is more severe than Mild learning disability as defined above. This includes moderate, severe and profound learning disabilities as defined below and should be used where it is not possible to be more precise about the exact level of the learning disability.

Sign-supported English

Sign Supported English uses BSL signs but in the order that they would be used in spoken English.


Sensory Impairment Service

Skin Problem

This includes any skin condition.


Speech, language and communication needs - See Speech and Language Delay


Severe Learning Difficulties

Sleep Apnoea

Airway narrowing or blocking during sleep

Sleep Melatonin

Disordered sleep pattern on treatment with melatonin


Speech and Language Therapist

SMART targets

Targets which are Specific, Measurable, Agreed, Realistic and Timed.


Special Needs


Sensori-neural hearing loss. This term should be used where the level of hearing impairment has not been more precisely defined and should prompt referrals to audiology and ENT to more precisely define the nature of the hearing impairment.

Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia)

A persistent and overwhelming fear of social situations. It's one of the most common anxiety disorders. It can be intense fear and anxiety over simple everyday activities, such as shopping or speaking on the phone.

Social Communication Disorders

Affects social interaction and communication

Social, Emotional and Mental Health Difficulties (SEMH)

Whether a child or young person is considered to have Social, Emotional and Mental Health Difficulties depends on a range of factors. These might include the nature, frequency, persistence, severity, and abnormality of the difficulties and their cumulative effect on the child or young person’s behaviour and/or emotional wellbeing compared with what might generally be expected for a particular age.

Social Services

To identify care needs and provide a service.

Social Phobia

See Social Anxiety Disorder.

Social Worker (SW)

Assigned to family by social services to assess needs, advice and plan package of care and support to help if required

Soft diet

Type of specialist diet.

Soft Tissue Mass

Soft tissue mass is defined as the supportive or connective tissue of the body and includes fibrous connective tissue, bone, muscle, fat, blood/lymph vessels and the nervous system. All lumps are usually referred to as tumours whether they are benign or malignant.

Spastic Cerebral Palsy (SpCP)

The most common type of cerebral palsy, affecting 75-88% of those diagnosed. This term is used to describe types of cerebral palsy (CP) that are characterized by tight muscles.


See Spastic Cerebral Palsy.

Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND, SEN)

A child of compulsory school age or a young person has SEN if they have a learning difficulty or disability which calls for special educational provision to be made for him or her. A child or young person should be classed as having SEND if they have significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of others of the same age. They should also be classed as having SEND if they have a disability that prevents (or hinders) them from making use of educational facilities that are provided for others of the same age in mainstream schools or post-16 institutions.

Special Educational Needs (Personal Budgets) Regulations 2014

Special Educational Needs (Personal Budgets) Regulations 2014

Special Educational Needs and Disability Regulations 2014

Special Educational Needs and Disability Regulations 2014

Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal

See First-Tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs & Disability).

Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCo)

A Special Educational Needs Co-Ordinator (SENCO) is a qualified teacher in a school or maintained nursery school who has responsibility for co-ordinating SEN provision. In a small school, the headteacher or deputy may take on this role. In larger schools there may be a team of SENCOs. Other early years settings in group provision arrangements are expected to identify an individual to perform the role of SENCO.

Special Educational Provision

Special educational provision is provision that is different from or additional to that normally available to pupils or students of the same age, which is designed to help children and young people with SEN or disabilities to access the National Curriculum at school or to study at college.

Special School

A school that is specifically organised to make special educational provision for pupils with SEN. Special schools maintained by the local authority comprise community special schools and foundation special schools. Non-maintained (independent) special schools are approved by the Secretary of State under Section 342 of the Education Act 1996.


Children, young people and families who are experiencing very serious or complex needs that are having a major impact on their achievement of expected outcomes. It is likely that these services will be needed  long term.

Specialist Health Visitor

Specialist nurses offering support and advice to families who have a child with a special need.

Specialist Resourced Provision

Additionally funded provision for particular types of special educational needs in mainstream schools, e.g for children with hearing impairment, physical disability, or visual impairment.

Specialist Teacher Adviser (STA)

Employed by the local authority to provide specialist advice to schools for children with physical disabilities, visual impairment, hearing impairment and specific learning difficulties.

Specific Language Impairment     

Speech and language impairment can vary a great deal from mild difficulties to severe problems with the understanding and use of language.

Specific Learning Disability

This is the parent terminology that encompasses the group of specific learning disabilities

Speech and Language Therapist (SALT, SLT)

Speech and Language Therapists specialise in helping those with communication and language problems. They may work in schools, hospitals, medical centres.

Speech and Language Therapy (SALT)

Speech and language therapy is a healthcare profession. It enables children, young people, and adults with speech, language and communication difficulties  to reach their maximum communication potential. SALT also helps people with associated difficulties (such as eating and swallowing) to achieve more independence.

Speech, Language And Communication Difficulties (SLCD)

Children and young people who have difficulty with some aspects of communicating.

Speech, Language And Communication Needs (SLCN)

The needs of people who have difficulty with some aspects of communicating

Spina Bifida

A congenital defect of the spine in which part of the spinal cord and its meninges are exposed through a gap in the backbone. It often causes paralysis of the lower limbs, and sometimes learning difficulties.

Spinal Injuries

A spinal cord injury refers to any injury to the spinal cord that is caused by trauma instead of disease. Depending on where the spinal cord and nerve roots are damaged, the symptoms can vary widely, from pain to paralysis to incontinence.


Specific Learning Disabilities. An umbrella term used to cover a range of frequently co-occurring difficulties, usually Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Dyscalculia, ADD, and ADHD.


Inflamed joints of the spine


Sponylosis is degeneration of the vertebrae like osteoarthritis in the peripheral joints


Social Services


Stammering, also known as stuttering, is a condition in which the sufferer speaks hesitantly or in a stumbling and jerky way. Stammering varies, both in the way it affects different people and in its severity.

Statement of Special Educational Needs

A legal document that sets out a child’s special educational needs and the additional help he or she should receive. Statements will cease to be issued with effect from 1st Sept 2014 with the implementation of the Children and Families Act 2014. All existing statements will be transferred to Education and Health Care Plans by 2017. All new requests for statutory assessment will be dealt with under the SEND Code of Practice regulations (2014)

Statutory Assessment

A very detailed assessment of a child’s special educational needs which may lead to an Education Health or Care Plan or a note in lieu.

Statutory Guidance

Statutory guidance is guidance which local authorities and other local bodies have a legal duty to follow.


A sudden disabling attack or loss of consciousness caused by an interruption in the flow of blood to the brain, especially through thrombosis.

Sturge-Weber Syndrome

Sturge-Weber syndrome is a neurological disorder indicated at birth by a port-wine stain birthmark on the forehead and upper eyelid of one side of the face.

Substance Misuse

Substance misuse. Intoxication by, or regular excessive consumption of and/or dependence on psychoactive substances, leading to social, psychological, physical or legal problems.

Supported Living

Supported living is a type of residential support that helps vulnerable adults, including people with learning disabilities, to live with support in the community.

Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT)

Heart muscle pumps too fast


Suspected child abuse. Safeguarding/Child Protection.


See Social Worker

Symbol systems

Symbol systems are often used to assist Deafblind people to communicate. Photos, pictures and objects can be added to other structured forms of communication.


Synonymous with faint.

Systemic Exertion Intolerance Disease (SEID)

See Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.


TA or Teaching Assistant

Teaching assistants (TAs) usually work with a teacher in their classroom, making sure pupils get the most out of lessons (e.g. by helping them find their way around a computer). The teaching assistant takes on tasks that allow the teacher to concentrate on teaching (e.g. by preparing the classroom for lessons and clearing up afterwards). To support pupils with particular individual needs, some teaching assistants work one-to-one, while others work in small groups.


Team Around the Child


Tadoma involves a Deafblind person placing their thumb on a speaker’s lips and spreading their remaining fingers along the speaker’s face and neck. Communication is transmitted through jaw movement, vibration and facial expressions of the speaker.

Team Around the Family (TAF)

TAF meetings are how multi- agency service provision is organised under Common Assessment Framework (CAF)


Abnormality of the foot or feet


Children, young people and families are experiencing emerging problems or are experiencing significant additional needs, which may be numerous or more serious/ complex in nature. Services may provide a fixed time intervention. An example could be speech therapy to enable a child to catch up.


Traumatic brain injury


Traumatic brain injury of non-accidental aetiology.


Treatment and Education of Autistic and Related Communication-Handicapped Children. A programme for preparing  people with autism to live or work more effectively at home, at school and in the community.


Tension headache

Thickened fluid diet

Type of specialist diet.

Tic disorder

All tic disorders including Tourette’s Syndrome. From ICD:

  • Motor or vocal tics, but not both, that occur many times per day, most days over a period of at least twelve months.
  • No period of remission during that year lasting longer than two months.
  • No history of Tourette syndrome, and not due to physical conditions or side effect of medication.
  • Onset before age 18 year.


Teacher of the Deaf.


Torticollis means 'twisted neck'. The neck becomes twisted to one side. The most common cause of torticollis is acute torticollis, also known as 'wry neck'.

Total Communication

The total communication approach is about using the right combination of communication methods for an individual to ensure the most successful forms of contact, information exchange and conversation. For example, an individual may receive information via speech and signs while expressing themselves via signs and symbols.


Tourette syndrome is an inherited neuropsychiatric disorder with onset in childhood, characterized by multiple physical tics and at least one vocal tic. These tics characteristically wax and wane, can be suppressed temporarily, and are preceded by a premonitory urge.


An incision in the windpipe made to relieve an obstruction to breathing.

Transition Plan

A plan drawn up at the annual review of the statement held when a child reaches Year 9 (13 or 14 years old). It sets out the steps and support needed for him or her to move from school to adult life.


Refers to either a powerful shock with potentially long-term effects (psychological), or any bodily injury (pathological).

Tuberous Sclerosis (TS)

Tuberous sclerosis.  A multi-system disorder, also known as tuberous sclerosis complex, involving multiple hamartoma of the brain, skin and kidneys. There is great variability in presentation and severity and TS can present at any age.

Turner Syndrome

Complete or partial deletion of one X chromosome. Visit the Turners Syndrome Support Society

Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus (DM1)

When the body's immune system attacks (and destroys) the cells that produce insulin. As no insulin is produced, your glucose levels increase, which can seriously damage the body's organs. If you're diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, you'll need insulin injections for the rest of your life. You'll also need to ensure your blood glucose levels stay balanced (by eating healthily, taking regular exercise, and carrying out regular blood tests). Also known as insulin-dependent diabetes, juvenile diabetes, and early-onset diabetes.

Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (DM2)

When the body doesn't produce enough insulin (or the body's cells don't react to insulin). If you're diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, you may be able to control your symptoms simply by eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and monitoring your blood glucose levels. However, as type 2 diabetes is a progressive condition, you may eventually need medication, usually in the form of tablets. Also known as insulin resistance.


Typical intellectual abilities for age. Synonym IQ normal (this is the term that is accepted by terminologists).



Urea cycle disorder.


Undescended testis


Upper Limb Anomaly. Includes all anomalies of the upper extremity including brachial plexus injuries acquired at birth. See

Ulcerative Colitis

A long-term autoimmune condition that causes the colon and rectum to become inflamed. Symptoms include recurring diarrhoea (which may contain blood) and abdominal pain. Treatment aims to relieve symptoms during a flare-up and prevent symptoms from returning.

Underactive Pituitary Gland

See Hypopituitarism.

Underactive Thyroid

See Hypothyroidism.


Unilateral sensori-neural hearing loss


Children, young people and their families core needs are being met effectively by universal services without any additional support: These are services such as Libraries, GP’s, schools and health visitors.

Universal Credit

Universal Credit is replacing certain benefits in parts of the UK.

Urinary incontinence

Urinary incontinence day and night. This may occur because the child or young person has not reached the developmental level where bladder control can be acquired. It is always worth a concerted effort to support the family to achieve continence as even those with significant intellectual and other disabilities can be ‘trained’. Those with neuropathic bladders need specialist support including from paediatric urology and specialist continence nurses.

Uses alternative communication skill

Needs alternative or augmented communication aids or adaptations to communicate. This includes children and young people who experience physical barriers to communication and those who experience behavioural barriers or barriers related to autism spectrum disorders.


Urinary tract infection



See Visual Impairment

Virtual School Head

The Virtual School Head (VSH) is an officer of a local authority who leads a virtual school team that tracks the progress of children looked after by the authority as if they attended a single school. The Children and Families Act 2014 requires every local authority to appoint an officer who is an employee of that or another authority to discharge this duty.

Visual Frame Signing

Someone using BSL will sign within the restricted visual field of the person so that they can see it.

Visual impairment (VI)

High level term for all visual impairments. A more precise diagnosis and level of visual functioning should be recorded, following expert ophthalmological and optic assessments.


Vitamin D deficiency


Vagal nerve stimulator


Voice Output Communication Aid

Voluntary schools

Originally set up by voluntary bodies, such as the Church of England or Roman Catholic Church, but with most of their running costs now funded by Hampshire County Council. Voluntary aided schools are responsible for their own admissions. Voluntary controlled schools follow Hampshire County Council’s admission policy.


Ventricular septal defect


See Virtual School Head




W-D Syndrome

This is cerebral palsy that affects the nerves and muscles needed for speaking, eating, drinking and swallowing. It is a very important and sentinel condition for services for disabled children and young people because it can be tricky to diagnose and requires careful multi-disciplinary care planning.

Weight Gain Diet

Type of specialist diet.

West Syndrome

Triad of infantile spasms, hypsarrythmic EEG and developmental regression.

Williams Syndrome

Williams syndrome is a rare neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by a distinctive, "elfin" facial appearance, along with a low nasal bridge, an unusually cheerful demeanour and ease with strangers; developmental delay coupled with strong language skills; and cardiovascular problems.

Worster-Drought Syndrome

This is cerebral palsy that affects the nerves and muscles needed for speaking, eating, drinking and swallowing. It is a very important and sentinel condition for services for disabled CYP because it can be tricky to diagnose and requires careful multi-disciplinary care planning.



Young Healthy Minds Partnership Group


The Youth Justice Board for England and Wales is an executive non-departmental public body. Its board members are appointed by the Secretary of State for Justice. The YJB oversees the youth justice system in England and Wales, works to prevent offending and reoffending by children and young people under the age of 18 and ensures that custody for them is safe, secure and addresses the causes of their offending behaviour.


See Youth Offending Team

Young Person (YP)

A person over compulsory school age (the end of the academic year in which they turn 16). From this point the right to make decisions about matters covered by the Children and Families Act 2014 applies to the young person directly, rather than to their parents.

Youth Justice Board (YJB)

The Youth Justice Board for England and Wales is an executive non-departmental public body. Its board members are appointed by the Secretary of State for Justice. The YJB oversees the youth justice system in England and Wales, works to prevent offending and reoffending by children and young people under the age of 18 and ensures that custody for them is safe, secure and addresses the causes of their offending behaviour.

Youth Offending Team (YOT, YOS)

Youth offending teams are part of local authorities and are separate from the police and the justice system. They work with local agencies including the police, probation officers, health, children’s services, schools and the local community. The YOS run local crime prevention programmes, help young people at the police station if they’re arrested, help young people and their families at court, supervise young people serving a community sentence, and stay in touch with a young person if they’re sentenced to custody.

Youth Support Services (YSS)

Youth Support Services provide information, advice, guidance and support to all young people aged 13-19. They work with young people with learning difficulties and/or disabilities, up to the age of 25, to help them make the best possible transition into Adult Services.


Young peoples learning agency


139A Assessment

See Learning Disability Assessment

22q11 deletion syndromes

Intellectual developmental disability can be mild to severe. Delayed speech milestones, specific difficulties with abstract reasoning and poor problem-solving skills in the school aged child. Di George Syndrome, Velo-cardio-facial syndrome, Shprintzen’s Syndrome, CATCH-22 syndrome.