What does a SEND or ALN diagnosis mean for me and my child?

If your child needs lots of help with certain activities, they may have special educational needs or a disability (SEND). This is sometimes also known as additional learning needs (ALN).

A diagnosis for SEND can help your child get extra support. You can also get some support for your child without a diagnosis.

It’s useful to understand what a SEND diagnosis will do for your family, and what it might not do.

Children playing with blocks on carpet

Types of support offered by a SEND diagnosis

The support will depend on the nature and level of your child’s needs. An assessment will show whether your child meets the criteria for a diagnosis.

Support as a result of a diagnosis may include:

  • Social care, for those with greatest need. This could be occupational therapy, speech therapy or equipment. It might include day care, residential education or short breaks away from the family.
  • Support from your childcare provider, like a nursery or childminder. They have a legal duty to help meet the needs of a child with a disability. They can apply for extra funding to help with this.
  • Learning assistance from your child’s school. Or help from the school to apply for local authority support. Schools should offer support for any child on the SEN register.
  • Financial help. Various options are available if your child meets the needs assessment criteria. This includes personal budgets, Disability Living Allowance and Child Tax Credits.
  • The Blue Badge scheme supports with parking with older children (but not babies).

Making sure your whole family is supported

While a SEND diagnosis will offer some support, it may not meet all your child’s needs. It’s a good idea to think about where your family can get the support they need outside of a diagnosis.

Remember that the diagnosis process could take a few months. It’s also important to know that your child may not meet the criteria. It may help to:

  • Understand what support your child can get with or without a diagnosis. Read our article on SEN support in schools. Or the government website has some information about people to speak to.
  • Seek emotional support. If the possibility of diagnosis has come as a shock, it may take you time to adjust to the situation.
  • Look for local parenting groups for specific needs and disabilities.
  • Check what venues have in place to cater for your child’s needs. Cinemas sometimes hold screenings for children with ADHD or autism, for example.
  • Consider your own day-to-day needs – like time with friends or a partner. Try to organise your family life to accommodate this.
Go back

What SEN support can my child’s school provide?


What is an EHCP and an IEP, and how can my child get one?


How a soothing box can help your child feel safe or calm


What can I do if my child has a tantrum?


Talk to us

Free and confidential live chat with parenting staff. Chat online or request a call back when it’s convenient for you.

Chat icon on mobile phone