Special Needs, we need to rise to meet the challenges

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by Dr Raj Chandok, FRCGP MSc MBBS DC DRCOG DFFP D Med Ed

The term “special needs” is usually thought of in relation to children with Special Educational

Needs and Disabilities or SEND. Children fall under this category if it is determined that they have a learning difficulty or disability for which they require special educational provision.

In 2014, the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) stated that there were 1,628 children in Kensington and Chelsea who had a SEND. This was 13% of the school age population.

When children with a SEND become adults they may continue to have the same difficulties or disability. There are approximately 3500 people known to have a learning disability in the

Borough.

We know that the challenges experienced by children, young people and adults with

special needs are important to our local councils and the NHS, the NHS Clinical Commissioning groups for Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea and their partner Councils have developed a “Big Plan” for 2018-2021. They have adopted the following statement as their vision:

‘Children, young people and adults with learning disabilities and/or autism have the right to the same opportunities as anyone else to live satisfying and valued lives, and to be treated with dignity and respect. They should have a home within their community, be able to develop and maintain relationships, and get the support they need to live healthy, safe and rewarding lives’.

(ADASS, LGA, NHS England, 2015)

We know from data that those with learning disabilities and/or autism already have poorer life chances compared to the general population, including more difficulties around building

relationships, obtaining education, training and employment. Many of us may take most of

these for granted.

However, we as a community should look at the small ways we can ensure that all children, young people and adults with learning disabilities and/or autism feel included. Not all those with learning disabilities or autism have a physical disability, there may be nothing to signify that they are struggling.

Do you know your neighbours? Could any of them have a disability and be feeling isolated or

segregated? Are community groups and centres doing what they can to welcome and include all residents? Have local businesses considered whether they have made reasonable adjustments to ensure they are accessible? Are staff trained to be aware?

 

Dr Raj Chandok and Dr Serena Foo are General Practitioners and Commissioners, they work together to deliver patient-centred, high quality Long Term Conditions care across North West London

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