Learning Difficulties


The following visuals show the numbers and trends relating to special educational needs in England focusing on Autism.

Special Educational Needs - Profound Multiple Learning Difficulties (PMLD) & Severe Learning Difficulties (SLD)


In the initial Power BI model, we scrutinized the count of autism diagnoses among children aged 0-9 in England for the fiscal year 2019-20, dissecting the performance of Integrated Care Boards (ICBs) across the nation. The analysis highlighted significant variations in ICB performance, shedding light on the regional landscape of autism diagnoses. It is crucial to acknowledge that the data's novelty and experimental nature introduced variability in the coverage of General Practitioner (GP) Practices, prompting us to utilize a coverage report from NHS England for compensation. Nevertheless, the model's accuracy remains contingent on the level of coverage.

Our choice of the 2019-20 timeframe was deliberate, predating the onset of COVID, which had the potential to disrupt diagnosis programs. This disruption was evident in the second Power BI model, where we delved into autism diagnoses and associated conditions such as Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities (PMLD), Moderate Learning Difficulties (MLD), and Severe Learning Difficulties (SLD) using Special Educational Needs statistics from GOV.UK. While autism diagnoses exhibited a consistent upward trend from 2016 to 2023, PMLD + SLD + MLD, ostensibly correlating with autism at 60% to 70%, demonstrated a decline over the same period.

Autism, or Autistic Spectrum Disorder, encompasses a spectrum from severe intellectual challenges to genius, often co-occurring with PMLD, SLD, MLD, or Asperger's. Identifying these diverse needs early is critical, yet a considerable challenge. The failure to do so is emerging as a pressing issue, with some Members of Parliament rightly highlighting the neglect of children with special educational needs by the government since the advent of COVID. Addressing this oversight will likely require a concerted effort and time.

In light of these findings, the subsequent sections offer advice and resources for concerned parents and children navigating the complexities of special educational needs.


Advice & Resources for interested parents

Joanna Grace & The Sensory Projects

Joanna Grace is an international sensory engagement and inclusion specialist, trainer, author, TEDx speaker and founder of The Sensory Projects. Consistently rated as Outstanding by Ofsted, Joanna has taught in mainstream and special school settings, connecting with pupils of all ages and abilities. Joanna has also supported adult care teams supporting individuals with Dementia and individuals with Profound Disabilities, and families caring for loved ones at home. Joanna has created educational resources for a number of notable organisations including Amnesty International, Oxfam and the Booktrust. She has also supported public settings small and large with their ambitions to be more inclusive. To inform her work Joanna draws on her own experience from her private and professional life as well as taking in all the information she can from the research archives. Joanna's private life includes family members with profound disabilities and time spent as a registered foster carer for children with profound disabilities. Joanna grew up at sea, travelling with her family in their self built concrete boat, she now lives in rural Cornwall in a little hamlet with no house numbers or road names. She also lives on the rail network travelling the UK delivering training and conference presentations to delegates keen to know more about how simple sensory resources can be used as effective tools for inclusion. In all of her work Joanna is seeking to contribute to a future where people are understood in spite of their differences. Joanna is a big fan of social media and is always happy to connect with people online. You can find her on Twitter at @jo3grace, or through her website www.thesensoryprojects.co.uk

7 Minute SENCO Autism Videos


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