Family Support Q&As
On this page, you can find answers to your questions regarding support for families of children with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND).
All the questions have been submitted by local parents and answered by Local Authority staff. Click on a question to read the response.
One organisation that can offer help, advice and support to you as a parent is your local Parent Carer Support Group. Parent support groups provide peer support and information to parents and carers through coffee mornings, events, websites, training and workshops. The local Parent Carer Support Group for Westminster is Westminster Parent Participation Group (WPPG).
Parents may also get support from the Independent Advice and Support Service (IASS). The IASS is there to provide independent and confidential advice on a range of topics spanning education, health and social care, and can offer individual casework. Click here to find out more.
Local and national charities may also offer information and support. For a list of some charities that may be able to assist you, please click here.
There can be a lot to think about as your children grow older and approach school-leaving age. You may find the amount you need to plan daunting, especially if you don’t have all the information you need.
A good place to start for all parents of children over the age of fourteen who have SEND would be the Local Offer’s Preparing for Adulthood page. This page contains lots of information on the things you should be thinking about when your child grows older, and a directory of local services – from education and employment, to housing, and financial support.
You may feel you need extra help to navigate this information and make decisions. In this case, you might wish to contact the local Independent Advice and Support Service (IASS) who can offer information and support on topics across education, health and social care. Your local Parent Carer Support Group are also able to offer information, advice and peer support to parents of older children.
The local authority runs a Short Breaks service which both offers disabled children and young people (aged 0-18) an opportunity to have fun and broaden their social networks away from home, and gives families a break away from their caring responsibilities. Depending on your family’s needs, short breaks can be arranged to last from a few hours, days, evenings, overnight and weekends. You can find out more information about the Short Breaks offer in Kensington and Chelsea by visiting the Short Breaks section of the Local Offer.
If you are a family carer of an adult with disability, you will be entitled to a Carer’s Assessment by the local authority. The Carer’s Assessment will identify ways that you can be supported in your caring responsibilities, including the opportunity to have breaks away from caring. For more information on Carer’s Assessments please click here.
The term ‘behaviour’ is often used to refer to ‘good’ or ‘bad’ behaviour. In terms of behavioural theory, the term behaviour refers to everything we say or do, so:
- A person is behaving all of the time.
- Activity is often thought to be the same as behaviour.
- A person is behaving even when they are doing nothing.
Behaviour that challenges always happens for a reason and may be the person’s only way of communicating an unmet need. With the right support at the right time the likelihood of behaviour that challenges is reduced.
If you find your child’s behaviour is becoming more challenging, you should raise this with one of the professionals helping to support your child. This might be a GP, social worker, occupational therapist or paediatrician. They will then work with you, and with their multi-disciplinary colleagues, to identify the cause of the behaviour and the support than can be put in place to prevent it from happening.
It's quite common for children with SEND who do not appear to have any behavioural difficulties at school to behave differently at home. Just because the difficult behaviour occurs at home, does not necessarily mean the trigger (or the cause) lies there. The child may find school very stressful, but keep their emotions locked up until they get home.
School staff (your child’s teacher and special educational needs co-ordinator), professionals (Educational and Child Psychologists, Early help practitioners, CAMHS practitioners) can support with understanding and behaviour at home.
Every child is unique no matter what their diagnosis or needs are. The reasons for your child’s behaviour throughout life will likewise be different to what causes another child’s behaviour.
In order to understand what makes your child behave in the way they do, you should work with the multi-disciplinary team who support your child to think about what’s causing it (called the antecedent) and what they are getting out of it (the consequence). You can change your child’s behaviour by changing either the behaviour’s antecedent or the consequence your child gets from the behaviour. For example, the consequence may be that they are allowed a favourite activity, or to leave a stressful situation.
Difficulties with behaviour are commonly linked with the following:
- Communication difficulties – it can be very powerful for a young person to use behaviour when they cannot use any other formal communication skills.
- Adaptive skills – if a young person cannot do something for themselves and need others to do things for them – Do they do it correctly? Do they understand why? There can often be a mismatch in understanding of Young Person’s skills level and desire for how they want things to be done.
- Lack of meaningful activity – sometimes boredom or a lack of engaging and interesting activities that are relevant to the young person, can lead to displays of challenging behaviour.
Behaviours that challenge are often part of the developmental process. For example, children typically engage in repetitive movements at transition points in motor development (e.g. rocking on hands, head-banging, ‘tantrums’, property destruction are common in young children). So, children and young people with SEND are more likely to present with a particular type of behaviour at different points in their development.
Your child’s team of supporting professionals will be able to help identify the antecedents and consequences of your child’s behaviour. The local authority’s Short Breaks service also offers various programmes which can give you information on understanding behaviours.
Siblings who help to take care of their brother or sister with SEND can often access extra support from the local authority as a young carer. Support is available from the Early Help Teams in Family Services. They can provide young carers with:
- An assessment of their needs
- One to one support for young carers with a high level of need
- Advice to support young carers in their caring role
- Information about other support services and activities they engage in
In Westminster, young carers can also access the range of activities provided by DreamArts which includes social groups, creative projects and events all specifically designed around the needs of young carers.