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Article Index


There are over 65 special needs that schools can find themselves faced with.  Some, such as dyslexia will be familiar to everyone working in a school.  For others (such as Williams Syndrome) one might work a professional lifetime in schools and never come across a child with it.

Below we have an alphabetical list of special needs - a list which has kindly been supplied to us by Dave Vizard, who has published three books which give extensive details of each of these special needs.   

You can find a list of all of the Dave Vizard publications here   The three that we have used are:

  •    A revised guide to syndromes and conditions
  •   A guide to more syndromes and conditions
  •   A guide to further syndromes and conditions.

In each case if you click on the cover page of the book you will have the chance to read a sample from the book and see the contents in detail.

You can contact the publishers on 01626 366 161 or write to them atBehaviour Solutions Ltd, 15 St. Mary’s Close, Abbotskerswell, Newton Abbot, Devon, TQ12 5QF

Here is the list of special needs covered in these volumes...



Agoraphobia is a type of anxiety disorder and is literally translated as ‘fear of the market place’. A person with Agoraphobia will have an intense fear of being in public places or open spaces.

Angelman Syndrome

Angelman Syndrome is a rare genetic neurological disorder. It affects about 1 in 25000 new born babies and is characterised by intellectual and developmental delay including severe learning difficulties with unsteady and jerky movements.

Anxiety Disorder

Anxiety disorders are conditions in which symptoms of anxiety are so severe or occur so regularly that they start to interfere with everyday life. Anxiety is a feeling of fear we all experience when faced with threatening or difficult situations.


Aphasia is a communication disorder. People with aphasia cannot express their thought in words. They also have problems understanding the words and sentences of others when used in conversation and written down.

Apraxia – Childhood Apraxia of Speech

Childhood Apraxia of Speech is the most severe form of speech disorder. It is a neurological motor speech disorder in which the child has problems saying sounds, syllables and words but this is not due to muscle weakness or paralysis.

Asperger Syndrome (AS)

AS is one of the Autistic Spectrum disorders. A person with Asperger Syndrome will have difficulties in communication, socialization and imagination, and sometimes physical coordination.


Asthma can be described as a long term condition which causes the airways in the lungs to narrow making it difficult to breathe. This results in coughing, wheezing and breathlessness and a tightness in the chest.

Attachment Disorder

Attachment Disorder is a mental and emotional condition. Children become anxious when they do not have the love, comfort and security from their primary carer, and so they lack trust in others.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) (Sponsor F&B)

ADHD is seen as a developmental disorder, causing emotional and behavioural difficulties. People with ADHD can function well in casual settings (e.g. at home), however they find structured and less flexible environments (e.g. school) challenging.

Autism (Sponsor SEN Press)

Autism is defined as a developmental disability, affecting the communication and social skills of a child or adult beyond the length of normal development. It is a lifelong condition and some Autistic people are remarkably gifted in certain areas.

Behavioural, Emotional and Social Difficulties (BESD)

A young person is considered to have BESD when the nature, frequency, persistence, severity and abnormality of his/her difficulties has a cumulative effect on his/her behaviour and/or emotional wellbeing compared with what might be expected.

Bipolar Disorder (BD)

A person with Bipolar Disorder will experience extreme shifts in mood from depression to mania. These mood shifts will arise without warning and will last for a long time for 1 to 2 weeks or even longer.  

Borderline Personality Disorder

A person with Borderline Personality Disorder will go from feeling fine to feeling extremely distressed in minutes. It is characterised by ‘emotional dysregulation’ or ‘affective instability’.

Brittle Bones

Brittle Bone Disease is also known as Osteogenesis Imperfecta and is characterised by fragile bones which have a tendency to break easily. It is the most common disease causing fractures in childhood.

Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral Palsy is a physical condition that affects movement and coordination. It occurs when part of the brain is not working properly or has not developed properly. It is permanent but non-progressive

Cognition and Learning Difficulties (Sponsored by CrickSoft)

Some children experience learning difficulties with cognition skills such as reading, writing and acquiring numeracy skills. Cognitive and Learning Difficulties can take two forms: General Learning Difficulties and Specific Learning Difficulties. 

Communication and Interaction Difficulties

Some children have difficulties in their ability to speak and with the development of language skills. Children with speech and language disorders usually need support in understanding what they need to do in the classroom and help to communicate their ideas.

Colour Blindness / Colour Vision Deficiency

Colour Blindness or Colour Vision Deficiency is the decreased ability to perceive differences between some colours that others can distinguish, or making mistakes when identifying colours.

Conduct Disorder

Children diagnosed with Conduct Disorder usually display aggressive, disruptive and defiant behaviour. Although their behaviour can be antisocial, it is usually a call for attention and help.

Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic Fibrosis is a life-threatening inherited disease affecting the glands that produce secretions. These secretions are stickier and thicker than normal, hindering the functioning of important organs such as the lungs and digestive system.


Deficits in Attention, Motor control and Perception Syndrome (DAMP)

DAMP is a combination of recognised conditions and links hyperactivity, a lack of attention and clumsiness (developmental coordination disorder). The term refers to:  attention links to ADHD, motor control links to Dyspraxia and perception to AS.


Depression is a low mood associated with specific and reversible chemical changes in the brain. Children with depression feel sad, helpless, hopeless and irritable. It’s the persistence and severity of these emotions that distinguishes the mental disorder.

Clinical depression is a condition that is severe enough to need some form of medical treatment. It affects the way a child eats, sleeps and feels about themselves.


Diabetes is a condition caused by too much glucose in the blood because the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin to help glucose enter the body’s cells or the insulin doesn’t work properly. The body cannot make use of the glucose so it builds up in the blood.  

Down’s Syndrome (Sponsor SEN Press)

Down’s Syndrome is caused by the presence of chromosome 21. Young people with this condition usually require special education, however, some can cope in mainstream school with support.

Dyscalculia (Sponsor Dyscalculia Centre)

Dyscalculia is a specific learning difficulty - an unexpected inability to handle one or more aspects of maths. Children with dyscalculia can be taught maths if certain specific points in their understanding of maths are addressed.

Dysgraphia (Sponsor Dysgraphia Help)

Dysgraphia is a specific learning difficulty which can be defined as a disorder in written expression. It’s a Greek term which translates to “impaired at writing by hand”. Dysgraphia can be overcome if the causes (not the symptoms) are addressed.

Dyslexia  (Sponsor Turnabout Education)

Dyslexia is a specific learning difficulty which affects the individual’s ability to read and spell and develop other literacy skills.


Also known as developmental coordination disorder, a child with Dyspraxia will have some form of motor or sensory impairments, resulting in the difficulties in coordination.

Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are characterised by an abnormal attitude towards food that causes someone to change their eating habits and behaviour. Atkinson and Hornby (2002) stated that “Eating disorders are characterised by severe disturbances in eating behaviours”. 


Eczema is a form of dermatitis and refers to an inflammation of the skin causing dry red, itchy patches which may blister and crack. Atopic eczema is the most common form and the number of people diagnosed has increased in recent years


Epileptic fits are caused when the neurons in the brain suffer a temporary malfunction. Epilepsy is not an illness or disease but a tendency of the brain to produce a spasm, seizure or fit if something triggers it.


Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder

Foetal alcohol syndrome is a spectrum of disorders which vary in severity from case to case caused by drinking during pregnancy. There is no known cure because the damage it causes to the central nervous system creates a permanent disability.

Fragile X Syndrome

Fragile X is an inherited mental impairment, the result of a change in a gene on the X chromosome. The syndrome causes learning difficulties in children, varying from mild to severe. It is more common in boys than girls.

Glue Ear

Glue Ear (Otitis Media with effusion) is a common childhood condition where the middle ear fills with a glue-like fluid instead of air and can occur in one or both ears leading to hearing loss.


Haemophilia is a genetic condition which is inherited and affects the blood’s ability to clot properly.   

Hearing Impairment

Hearing loss can vary from small loss requiring a hearing aid to the other extreme of being profoundly deaf. When hearing aids are worn all noises are amplified, not just voices but background noise as well.

Heart Disorders

A congenital heart defect occurs when a child is born with a heart problem. Up to 9 in 1000 babies are born in the UK with congenital heart disease. Common congenital heart defects are Septal defects, Pulmonary Valve Stenosis and Coarctation.


Hydrocephalus is a condition in which there is an accumulation of fluid (cerebrospinal fluid – known as CSF) in the brain. CSF normally flows through the cavities or ventricles in the brain, however, when its normal flow or absorption is blocked an over accumulation of CSF will result giving rise to raised pressure inside the brain.

Joint Hypermobility

Children with Joint Hypermobility will have an unusually large range of movement in some/all of their joints. Most experience few problems and do not require treatment unless pain or joint instability occurs.

If Joint Hypermobility causes symptoms such as joint pain, a child may have Joint Hypermobility Syndrome and is likely to require treatment. Children with Joint Hypermobility Syndrome can have fragile joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments.

Juvenile Arthritis

Children with Juvenile Arthritis experience inflammation of the joints causing swelling, stiffness, heat and pain. It can damage joints, bones muscles and cartilage which can hamper physical movement.

Left Handed (Sponsored by Robinswood Press)   

Loss, Separation and Bereavement

Some children who have to deal with loss, separation or bereavement will develop an emotional disorder which affects their behaviour and their ability to learn.

Meares-Irlen Syndrome

Meares–Irlen Syndrome is a form of visual stress and visual perception distortion which can make fine vision tasks such as reading difficult and uncomfortable.

Mental Health

Mental Health is a person’s condition with regard to their psychological and emotional well-being (Oxford Dictionaries). 1 in 10 children between the ages of 1 and 15 has a mental health disorder and around 20% of children and teenagers will experience a mental health problem at some point according to the British Medical Association.

Muscular Dystrophy

Muscular Dystrophy is a genetic disorder that causes the muscles that help the body to move to weaken. It is progressive, affecting one set of muscles before moving on to another set.

Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME)

Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) is a long term chronic disabling illness of the immune and central nervous system which leads to muscle and joint pain and intense physical or mental exhaustion.


Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

OCD is an anxiety-related disorder in which children are distressed by or limited in everyday functioning by obsessions and compulsions. They have no control over certain thoughts, ideas or urges which can often be frightening or distressing.   

Oppositional Defiant Disorder

Oppositional Defiant Disorder is seen as an ongoing pattern of disobedient, hostile, and defiant behaviour toward authority figures, such as parents and teachers. Children with ODD are continually defiant, and don’t like taking orders from others.

Pathological Demand Avoidance Syndrome

This is a pervasive developmental disorder which is related to but separate from the Autistic Spectrum (Autism and Asperger Syndrome). Children with PDA tend to resist and avoid all demands asked of them.

Petit Mal - Absence Seizure

An Absence Seizure (Petit Mal) is a form of generalised seizure which causes a loss of consciousness for 30 seconds or less. Despite this brief loss of consciousness the person will recover fully with no after effects and have no memory of the incident.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

This is a natural emotional reaction to a deeply shocking and disturbing experience. PTSD can affect anyone. It affects around 5% of men and 10% of women some time in their life.

Prader- Willi Syndrome (PWS)

PWS is a neurobehavioural genetic disorder. It isn’t related to medical, environmental or psychosocial factors. Features include food obsession, shortness of stature, poor muscle tone and learning and attention problems. It is connected to Angelman’s syndrome which also has genetic abnormalities in chromosome 15.

Rett Syndrome

Rett Syndrome is a severe progressive neurological condition. It was originally thought to affect only girls, but since the use of genetic testing to diagnose Rett Syndrome it has very recently been discovered in boys. 

School Phobia

School Phobia is an extreme form of anxiety disorder and is identified as a persistent and frequent fear of attending school. It is often described as an irrational fear of the school situation and is usually a social anxiety which is of an emotional origin.

Selective Mutism

This is an Anxiety Disorder that prevents children speaking in certain situations. It is not that they are unable to speak, they are physically capable of normal speech, but they decide not to speak. It is seen as an extreme social anxiety or phobia.


Self-harm can take the form of cutting, bruising and burning the skin together with other self-inflicted wounds. It can also involve taking a drug overdose.

Semantic Pragmatic Disorder

People with Semantic Pragmatic Disorder (SPD) are unable to process all the given information from certain situations.

Sensory Processing Disorder

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) is a neurological disorder which causes difficulties in the way we take in, process and respond to sensory information. Someone with SPD finds it difficult to process and act upon information received through the senses and therefore has difficulty in performing everyday tasks.

Sickle Cell Disorder

Sickle Cell Disorder is a condition inherited in the genes from one or both parents which causes abnormalities in the haemoglobin (an oxygen carrying protein found in red blood cells).

Soiling and Wetting

Soiling (encopresis) and wetting (enuresis) are identified as mental health disorders but most people believe they are caused by physical difficulties and emotional problems.

Specific Language Impairment (SLI)

A SLI occurs when a child has difficulty with language only – their development in other areas is normal. They do not develop speech and language skills in the normal way but are often as able as others of their age in every other way. It is a hidden disability, hard to spot and often gets missed or misdiagnosed.

Spina Bifida

Spina Bifida is a birth defect that involves the incomplete development of the spinal cord and nervous system. It occurs when one or more of the vertebrae in the spine do not form properly. This leads to the nerves in the spine being unprotected and causing damage to the central nervous system.


Stammering or stuttering is a problem with the normal flow and timing of speech. In certain situations it might be more or less severe depending on the anxiety level in that situation. It is physical in origin and can have a devastating psychological impact.

Substance Abuse

Substance abuse can have long-term, negative effects on a young person’s well- being. Substance abuse is the continual misuse of any mind altering substance which severely interferes with their physical and mental health.

Tourette’s Syndrome

Tourette’s Syndrome is an inherited neurological disorder. The main identifying factor of Tourette’s Syndrome are multiple motor (body) tics or vocal (phonic) tics. These tics are very difficult to control and can cause distress and anxiety to the child. 

Turner Syndrome

Turner Syndrome is a genetic condition caused by the lack, partial lack or abnormal formation of the 2nd X chromosome in females. Children with this condition display a lack of sexual development, will have growth problem and other health difficulties.

Visual Impairment

This refers to someone who is blind or partially sighted. It does not include people who are short or long sighted. Children who are visually impaired need to learn to use their other senses and learn skills to use in real-life situations.

Williams Syndrome

Williams Syndrome is a rare genetic condition caused by the deletion of the gene that makes the protein elastin from chromosome 7. Symptoms include a lack of co-ordination, muscle weakness and a probability of heart defects and kidney damage.