Special Educational Needs in the Early Years: an overview

Special Educational Needs

As elsewhere in the wider community, some children in an early years setting may have special needs associated with a physical or medical condition. Often, this will have no influence on their ability to learn, but if learning capacity should be impaired, then their education may fall within the remit of Special Educational Needs (SEN) legislation. Institutional responsibility for this sometimes poorly understood educational provision is usually delegated to a specific member of staff, whilst other colleagues, and most parents, may find its complex web of regulations bewildering and even a little intimidating. For those wishing to learn more, this article outlines the evolution of the SEN concept which informs the education of many of our children.

Out of the Shadows

As in many cultures, we have inherited our notions of disability and impairment from a medieval world of demons and punishment. Meighan believes this mix of history and myth is still echoed in our contemporary society via the ‘negative labelling of “special” or “handicapped” children’ often ‘cloistered away from the general public’. Centuries later, scientists from the Age of Enlightenment developed a more-informed understanding of many disabling conditions as medical science began to discover a range of relieving treatments and cures. Unfortunately, these celebrated advances were also accompanied by a tendency to map and classify the attributes of human ‘normality’, immediately stigmatising anyone unable to meet such specifications as ‘abnormal’. Even more importantly, the outcome of such pronouncements often condemned individuals to a dismal life of exclusion and segregation – a practice which was still relatively common during much of the 20th century.

Continue reading over on firstdiscoverers.co.uk

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