Best Practice

Moving beyond the label: Needs not diagnosis...

For many parents and too many professionals, the diagnosis is seen as a magic answer and the solution to a child’s difficulties – but it is not. Sara Alston discusses the risks involving diagnostic labels and looks at how we must provide SEN support based on need

As a SENCO, I am constantly asked “What is wrong with them?” or “Why can’t they do this or that?”

Both staff and parents often want a label to explain a child’s difficulties. They believe that if we can find a diagnosis or label to explain the difficulty, it will reduce or may be even cure it.

In reality, a diagnosis changes little. Knowing a child has a speech difficulty and struggles to articulate particular sounds makes no difference to their speech or ability to make themselves understood. What may make a difference is the response to their needs and the support they receive.

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