Children with Special Needs

Every child is individual

At Lighthouse we want to recognise that every child is individual and has different needs. We partly do this through our work with special needs children. We provide support for children who have special needs and this ranges from someone keeping an extra eye on them to having a full time one to one.

The special needs work at Lighthouse has grown to the point that at some Lighthouses we have a base and a programme specifically for those with high levels of need. This programme is called The Space. The Space provides an area in which the children can access a story aimed at their level and a base to which they can return as and when they need to throughout the day. We want to support our leaders who are involved with special needs work; being a one to one can be a challenging job, therefore having the Space means that not only the children but the leaders can have a bit more support in what they are doing. 

As Lighthouse grows we are seeing more and more children included, this helps those with special needs to feel a part of the community and helps the other children to realise that everyone is special and unique.

Information for Age Group Leaders and Teachers

If you have any children with special needs then they should fill out a Special Needs form and you will receive a copy from the Special Needs Co-ordinator. It is important that you provide any LHK and LL specifically looking after these children with the detail on these forms.

The Special Needs Co-ordinator will let you know if a 1:1 Special Needs Helper has been allocated to any of the children in your age group, please can you allocate them to a Lighthouse and encourage the LHK and LL's to include both the child and Special Needs Helper within their group as much as possible.

The Special Needs Co-ordinator should be available on the Lighthouse site and will attend the AGL/ Teacher debrief at the end of the day. Please do not hesitate to highlight any addition special needs you have noticed so that you can make the most of the special needs resources we have at Lighthouse. We want to try and make Lighthouse as inclusive as possible for children with special needs so the aim is to try and include them in all the activities even if it means simplifying something for them. 

Information about special needs you may encounter

Sometimes it is difficult for people with special needs to express themselves. It’s important to be aware of both their verbal (words, noises, crying) and non-verbal (gestures, signing, challenging behaviour) communications.

Often taking the time to try and understand what an individual is communicating will help them to feel included.

You can help an individual communicate through:

  • Asking questions with a one word answer
  • Allowing them time to think
  • Facilitating communication through signing
  • Providing choices in a pictorial manner

Providing choices between objects (Individuals who can’t point with their hands may use eye-pointing and look at the object they want to choose).


Individuals with Autism are on a spectrum, this can range from those with above average intellect to those with an IQ below normal. Often individuals with autism have difficulty with social contact. Aspergers is a condition which falls on the Autistic spectrum; most individuals with Aspergers have high levels of intelligence and functioning but may find social communication skills very difficult.

You can help individuals with Autism by being aware of their needs, providing them with clear instructions and information about what will happen next can help them to participate.

Downs Syndrome

Individuals with Downs Syndrome have an extra 21st Chromosome. This can have a varying impact on IQ; most individuals with Downs Syndrome are likely to have difficulties communicating and learning new skills.

You can help individuals with Downs Syndrome by breaking tasks down to their level of understanding and including them within your group.

Cerebral Palsy

Individuals with Cerebral Palsy predominantly have physical disabilities- this may impact their ability to communicate but not necessarily their intellect. Those who find it difficult to communicate may use switches or alternative forms of communication due to limited muscle control. Physical disabilities for those with Cerebral Palsy include having high, low, or fluctuating tone. This can be in different limbs of the body but often results in difficulty walking or controlling movement to manage functional tasks.

You can help individuals with Cerebral Palsy by realising their level of understanding and adapting activities so that they can join in.