AS parents and carers, we want to support our children and ensure they grow into happy, healthy individuals. We also know that every child is different, and there’s no ‘one size fits all’ way to help them understand their thoughts, needs or feelings.

For parents and carers of children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), this is particularly true. These children may face many challenges at home and at school, and for parents this can feel overwhelming at times.

The NSPCC is here for parents, carers and Childline is here for their child and siblings. We’re ready to offer advice and guidance to help you overcome challenges together. Creating a structured routine can really help children but changes to routine can sometimes cause the child to feel anxious. This applies even more to children with SEND, so it’s important to include your children when thinking about how to shape your day.

Try making something your child enjoys, like playing games or artwork, part of their daily routine. You could create a ‘Now and Next’ board using two pictures to illustrate what’s happening now and what your child will be doing next in a simple, understandable way. Or create a visual timetable, using pictures to plan the day, showing key things to look forward to during the week. Try not to feel pressured to create a lot of activities as repetition is important, and pictures are helpful for children with SEND. There are resources on the NSPCC website to aid with planning activities. Trying them together can give children space and time to express their feelings, whether playing with modelling clay or materials like sand or flour. You could also experiment with making sounds using household objects, which can be therapeutic.

Older children may find chatting with friends online or in-person beneficial, or gaming online with friends or siblings. It can also be fun to have young people help make dinner or a cake with you in the kitchen.

The Childline website can help children express thoughts and emotions. Elsewhere, is an online library of educational materials which has lots of resources including communication and emotion cards.

Many of the NSPCC’s advice and campaigns including Talk PANTS are available in Makaton, and families who find that form of sign language helpful can find further support at and Our website is available around the clock and parents can email for support and advice.