The hidden harmof slowprocessing skills

Thismonth, in her regular column for Education Today on aspects of SEND, JOANNE GLADDERS, independent Specialist Teacher and Assessor,

on a young person’s abilitywithin the reflects on the impact slowprocessing

can have classroom. Picture the scene – a young

person who is in bottom sets for all their subjects in Year 10. They have been told they do not have a chance of any success at GCSE but to have a go at the

foundation levels instead. How must they feel? They work hard and they are desperate to prove to that school that they are capable. That young person manages to secure a transfer to a different school. Upon arrival it

is very clear that there is some reason why this young person is not doing as well as perhaps they could.

An assessment is carried out which shows that this young person is a pupil of Average ability. However, this person has to work twice as hard as everyone else within their class and finds it difficult to take in instructions and to complete work within the allocated time.

This young person has a slow processing speed. This is not a condition by itself but one which can contribute to learning and attention issues such as ADHD, Dyslexia, Dyscalculia and Auditory Processing Disorder. It can also impact executive functioning skills – the thinking skills that help plan, set goals, respond to problems and stay on task.

Sowhat do slowprocessing skills look likewithin the classroom?

• They might have difficulty completing tests in the allocated time. • Not be able to complete homework or set tasks within the given timeframe.

• Have difficulty listening whilst taking notes in lessons. • Have difficulty completing multi-step maths problems within a

• Need time to read information more than once to given time frame.

what they have read.

• They might be overwhelmed by too much information being given at once.

• They might have difficulty keeping up with the pace of lessons.

What canwe do to help young people experiencing these difficultieswithin the classroom?

• Use a task planner to show what they need to do and in what order they need to complete the steps.

• Give additional processing time to enable them to reflect upon what has been said.

• Email them a copy of the lesson beforehand so they can pre-read what it is about and therefore aid their concentration and enable them to follow the lesson.

• Give additional time for tasks and tests.

• Provide a writing frame to take away the need to plan how they will carry out a piece of work but just enabling them to settle down to write it.

Now imagine how that young person might feel, knowing that there is an underlying reason for their perceived difficulties and, importantly, that they are being supported in dealing with it?

May 2019 understand

Inclusive schools need inclusive language

Regular Education Today SEND contributor KATE SARGINSON, Assistant Headteacher and former SENCO, looks thismonth at the use of inclusive language in schools.

When writing policies relating to Special Educational Needs and

Disabilities what terminology should schools be mindful of?We may have moved away from using phrases such as ‘handicapped’ and there are a number of words that we now

generally reject as a society, as they are

and offensive. now universal

How can we ensure that ly viewed as derogatory

the language used in school policies is inclusive, and that we understand the reasons behind it, rather than just cynically ticking a ‘PC’ box?

Language reflects societal attitudes. The use of theMedical Model of disability, where the disability is the problem, uses terms that relate to illness. In this model, individu deficiencies; conditions describe what a pu is. Emotive language such as ‘suffers from’

, ‘afflicted by’ and ‘struck pil has, not what a pupil als are identified by

down by’ connect with ideas of being unwell and in pain. Such language implies a reduced quality of life and evokes pity. Policies should not include passive, victim words, where pupils are categorised as vulnerable and dependent. The SocialModel focuses instead on the barriers presented the person is disabled by and puts the emphasis on society changing to accommodate, value and celebrate diversity. The language of the SocialModel focuses on independence, choice, and rights. Positive, not patronizing, language examples can include referring to a pupil as a ‘wheelchair user’ rather than saying a pupil is ‘confined to a wheelchair’ or ‘wheelchair-bound.’ This language conjures up images of being trapped and restricted, when a wheelchair is intended for the opposite - to be used to aid mobility and access.

Language is an extremely powerful tool for change. Inclusive approaches put the person first. Rather than using the collective term of ‘the disabled’, when mentioning diagnosed disabilities, state ‘pupil with autism’ than autistic pupil, and ‘pupil with visual impairments’ rather than ‘blind pupil’, for example.

If having to

make any comparisons, ‘non-disabled’ or ‘able-bodied’, apply the same person first model, ‘pupil without disability’. There are also some crucially important identity matters. Rather than disability being something to be ashamed of or hide, many people embrace and celebrate their difference. This is apparent with British Sign Language (BSL) users. Those for whom BSL is their first language may consider themselves part of ‘the deaf community’, and intentionally use a capital D, for ‘Deaf’ to emphasise the pride they have in their distinct identity.

Schools have many policies, but there is an additional

opportunity to show a further commitment to inclusive education in the manner in which special educational needs and disability are referred to in our documentation.We need to be aware of what the appropriate terminology is to use with the aim of our language being person-centred.We are influenced by the language we use in how we think of people and situations. Schools can use the typically mundane activity of writing policies to recognise how language can play an important part in fostering an authentic approach to inclusive education.

Sourc rce: Dep rtment fo work epart Updated 13 December 2018

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