Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND)

“You have to give them space….you have to let them know that every feeling is valid.”

All children and young people, regardless of their circumstances, have a right to have their grief recognised, hear the truth and to be given opportunities to express their feelings and emotions.

It is often assumed that young people with learning difficulties need protection from death and dying more than most, or that they do not have the capacity to understand. However, we often underestimate their abilities to cope with tough things in life. The challenge is finding creative ways to communicate when words are sometimes not appropriate.

  • Pupils with learning difficulties may need extra help to understand death and find ways to express their feelings.
  • Pupils with learning difficulties may find the concept of death and its permanence particularly difficult to grasp.
  • They benefit from simple, practical examples to illustrate the difference between dead and living things. Very visual and concrete explanations are particularly important for pupils on the autistic spectrum.
  • The death needs to be acknowledged as ignoring it will imply that this is an unimportant event and denies the existence of the person who has died.
  • They need reassurance that their powerful and overwhelming emotions are normal.