This got me thinking. Over the last few years it has become apparent to me that identification of children with SEN early on in primary schools seems to happen in the complete absence of awareness of the plethora of syndromes and conditions that are genetic or hormonal in origin, or just down to nutritional deficiencies. I think it would be a good idea for children to undergo a health screening as they come into the school system and even if it didn’t include a DNA test, we could certainly do with blood tests to identify, before it is too late, potential hormonal conditions or nutritional deficiencies that affect cognitive function and development that are easily treatable. Further, educators themselves seem to be completely ignorant of the common (and treatable) disorders of the endocrine system that affect cognitive function and development, so I would like to see all primary SCITT courses include a session or two about common medical conditions in order to increase awareness of children’s needs: I am quite concerned that children with the potential need for a statement are simply funneled through the system that ends up with a generic ‘General developmental delay’ written down on their EHCP (or on their IEP) by the Ed Psych when in fact they may have Cushing syndrome, for example.
Some conditions are easily identifiable when you know about how they affect fat distribution around the face and body, or how they affect limb growth or joint mobility. There are certain physical signs to observe and think about. How many people know about the link between Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, which is genetic in origin and leads to hypermobility, and autism? How many people know that Marfan syndrome is linked with ADHD? I’m not sure that educators know about these two syndromes, let alone how they might affect or be associated with cognitive function. Some conditions lead to precocious puberty, yet how often have I heard from educators that children with SEN seem to go through puberty early?
What’s the point in knowing all this information? The point is that it would help us to help children and also to make parents more aware too.
Who’s with me?