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.

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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

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