Northern Beaches Mums Group
Northern Beaches Mums Group

Education for Children with Special Needs

With the progression of research, more light has been shed on cognitive conditions and how they can affect performance, especially in children.

For parents or caregivers of children with special needs, it?s not unusual to feel overwhelmed at the prospect of helping them through the education system. Take comfort from the knowledge that many others are in a similar position, and a few simple decisions can make all the difference to the experiences you and your child have.

Build your village

Choosing the right school for a child with special needs is an important first step to getting them the best education possible. Not only will your child feel more comfortable in a learning environment which meets their requirements, but it will also give you peace of mind knowing that they are in good hands. Many schools take on dedicated special needs educators to work with children affected by a debilitating mental or emotional condition, and even if this isn?t an option, building a relationship with your child?s teachers will go a long way to ensuring their needs are met.

Seek extra help if necessary

Although the school may be your first port of call when educational challenges arise, taking advice or assistance from a specialist or organisation can help you better meet your child?s needs. Even tuition companies are increasingly accommodating for children with learning disabilities. If your child is really struggling, whether it be with school work or behavioural issues, consider booking a consultation with a trusted professional or company, and find out about their strategies for helping disadvantaged children succeed. A good tutor might even consult with your child?s teacher in order to ensure cooperation and comprehensive coverage of the classroom content.

Start early

Identifying special needs in a child can be difficult if you’re unfamiliar with the signs, but if you’re going to give your child the care they need, it’s extremely important to work out what they?re dealing with.

Your family GP should be able to identify anything abnormal through regular check ups and, if necessary, recommend a specialist to work more closely with your child on their unique challenges.

Educate yourself

Before you can decide what?s right for your child, you might need to do some research into the challenges facing those with special needs, and the techniques which have been proven to help those with similar conditions overcome learning difficulties. You might have friends or family who have been down the same path, but even if you?re the only parent you know with a child who has special needs, there?s plenty of support and information available online.

Create a plan

The best way to make the education system work for you and your child is to draw on those relationships established with their teachers and co-create a system that works. That might mean adjusting expectations for assessment, adapting test conditions, or making time outside of class for your child to catch up with a teacher or helper. If you?re lucky, your child?s teacher will be able to design a plan that meets their learning needs and allows them to progress at a manageable pace.

Work out where the problems lie

No two children are identical, and as a parent, you likely know more about your child?s individual struggles than anyone else. Whether you?re most concerned about behaviour, socialising, or school work, knowing what your child needs most will help their teachers and classmates to better meet those needs. That being said, the teachers at your child?s school may be even more confident in making an assessment than you are, so if you think something may be out of the ordinary, it?s worth starting a conversation with those who know your child almost as well as you do.

Raising and educating a child with special needs involves a host of unique challenges, but the rewards of giving your child the best possible start in life will make it worthwhile. Just don?t assume that you need to manage the hills and troughs on your own – there is plenty of help available to those who seek it out. 

Tanya is a writer and a mother of two boys. She enjoys spending time with her husband and kids. You can reach her at