Additional Educational Needs
When your child’s teacher or school suggests that your child might have some special or additional educational needs it may come as a shock or something you have suspected all along. Either way many parents experience a mixture of emotions, which can include denial, fear, relief, guilt and even anger. It is natural to feel this way as parents and important to acknowledge our feelings. You may need to give yourselves time to discuss your situation as a couple or with another trusted adult.
Obviously at this point parents have many unanswered questions for example:-
- What exactly is the problem?
- How do we get a diagnosis?
- What will a diagnosis mean to my child now, and in the future?
- Is my child getting the support they need?
- How do we get them additional support?
- Is this a problem for my child or an issue with the school?
- Who do we turn to for support?
As parents of children with additional educational needs we have experienced some of the trials and tribulations of getting these questions answered in Luxembourg. It was in fact this experience that brought the original co-founders of Passage together. We wanted to support each other whilst trying to find a way to support other parents facing these challenges.
Over time we have gathered the experiences of many parents with children ‘outside the box’ trying to find the right support for their families. Beyond this, we have learnt that there are often other factors that can affect our children’s experience of education in Luxembourg. We have spoken to many parents of children who have moved country and educational systems, who are struggling with the different approaches to education including the languages, or who are experiencing other stresses that are affecting their children’s academic progress. In this section of the website we hope to give some advice on what to do if you think that your child has additional educational needs and where go for support in Luxembourg and neighboring countries.
The first person parents will generally turn too if they or the school suspect an additional educational need will be their Pediatrician. All children in Luxembourg are signed up at birth with this kind of doctor who specializes in babies and young children. Most families will take their child to the same Pediatrician up to the age of around 10 years or beyond. There are also generalists (GP) who will see children. This means that their children’s medical cards and records can be kept up to date. The Pediatrician may suggest having hearing and sight tests with a specialist before referring parents to other professionals who may be able to help confirm a diagnosis.
Getting a Diagnosis and Support in Luxembourg or Outside the Country
Depending on your child’s age and the perceived problem you may be referred to different organisations or practitioners. If your child is older (5+ years) and does not speak Luxembourgish, French or German comfortably, you may consider getting a diagnosis outside the country in Belgium or Germany (with English-speaking practitioners) or even in your own country. It is best to speak to your child’s school concerning this because it is the school that will need to work with your child to provide ongoing support. You will need to consider whether an outside diagnosis will help your child if it is provided by an organization or in a language not used in their school or their doctor.
Some schools may have a person or department that can give advice and additional support to children and/or parents when trying to ascertain if there is a problem, they may even be able to provide initial testing depending on how serious the problem is.
There may be an additional or special educational needs coordinator, social worker, school counselor or SPOS (Services de Psychologie et d’Orientation Scolaire) in Luxembourgish Secondary schools. Additional to this it may be possible to request an appointment with any teachers involved in the child’s pastoral care. Each school will have their own policy about this. It is important to speak to as many professionals who come into contact with your child as possible.
Services Outside Schools in Luxembourg
Ministère de l’Education Nationale et de la Formation Professionnelle Service de l’Education différenciée
Address: 29, rue Aldringen, L-2926 Luxembourg
Fax: +352/460 105,
Your child may be referred to the EDIFF (Service de l’Education différentiée). This organisation consists of multi-disciplinary teams working with children who have previously been diagnosed with special needs and who are already integrated in mainstream schooling. However, they also offer assessment, help and support to children, presenting with other educational or psychological problems, as well as to their parents and teachers.
Service de Consultation et d’Aide pour troubles de l’Attention, de la Perception et du développement Psychomoteur (SCAP)
If your child has difficulty concentrating, you can contact SCAP. Although originally set up to help children with Attention Deficit Disorder, with or without hyperactivity, SCAP now also provides services for other difficulties, such as dyslexia or dyscalculia. It is therefore worth contacting them for advice, at least. The service is very popular and you may have to wait a long time for an appointment.
Further support and information for children with learning difficulties and their families can be obtained from the Kanner Helpdesk. The multidisciplinary team of the Kanner Helpdesk was founded in 2007.
Professionals from the following disciplines support the service:-
- Pedagogy/Educational Science
- Speech & Language Therapy
- Ergotherapy/Occupational Therapy
They can offer diagnostic meetings, an advisory service, guidance and therapy in the areas of:-
- Reading/spelling/calculating problems
- Perceptions (optical differentiation, optical memory, optical seriality, auditory differentiation, auditory memory, auditory seriality, spatial orientation, bodyscheme)
- Schoolwork organization
- Group training in social skills are available
This includes one to one support for children, youngsters and adults as well as for families. There are English speaking practitioners in the team. Reports are normally written in German or French, because Doctors and schools in Luxembourg prefer reports in these languages. However, they cannot offer testing for Dyslexia in English.
Getting a Diagnosis and Support for Younger Children
There are several services responsible for children with special or additional educational needs during early childhood. You will generally need a referral to these services from your pediatrician and you may wait a couple of months for an initial appointment.
The Service de Rééducation Précoce (SRP)
The Service de Rééducation Précoce takes care of children from age 0-4 years old in order to observe, evaluate, guide, treat or re-educate. They have some English-speaking practitioners and a website in English. The team is made up of different specialists (doctors and paramedical staff) who specialize in early intervention.
The service is specifically for children under the age of 4 years who are presenting with:-
- motor disorders
- sensory disorders
- learning and fine motor disorders
- communication and language disorders
- behavioral disorders
- retarded development
The multidisciplinary team consists of:-
- physiotherapists who are specialized in the reeducating of early childhood motor disorders
- occupational therapists taking charge of the sensory and coordination disorders
- speech therapists guiding the re-education of language and swallowing disorders
- psychologists who draw development reports of the children and give advice in the case of educational difficulties
- specialist teachers who encourage the social and mental development by group plays
- doctors specialized in functional re-education and re-adaptation who follow the reports of the children, ensure the relations with the attending doctors and coordinate the re-education
Service d’Intervention Précoce Orthopédagogique (Sipo)
Sipo is private organization whose goal is to offer the toddlers and small children with special or additional educational needs an educational stimulation in the family context. This educational support involves a close cooperation between the parents and the department of early intervention. Sipo gives educational and practical advice for families in relation to the delayed development of their child.
This early intervention service is specifically for children under the age of 6 years who are presenting with:-
- retarded (or delayed) development or deficiencies in one or several fields (motility, perception, language, behaviour)
- a disability (Cerebral palsy, Trisomy 21, or multiple disabilities)
- risk development (e.g. preterm birth, particular diseases)
Services for Diagnosis Outside Luxembourg
If your child is older and is not comfortable speaking French or German you may consider getting a diagnosis outside Luxembourg with a recognized practitioner who can run tests in English or your child’s mother tongue. It is important that you discuss this with your doctor and school because any tests done outside Luxembourg will not be reimbursed by the CNS (Luxembourg health system), your school may not recognise certain practitioners and will generally need a translation of the report in German or French (if your child is not attending an English-speaking school).
What Tests & Where to Go?
One of the tests often used by these services is the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC IV), which is not only an intelligence test, but also a clinical tool often utilised as part of an assessment to diagnose learning disabilities as well as other developmental concerns and delays.
Community Health Service (Belgium)
Several families in Luxembourg have been referred to and used the CHS Mental Health Centre in Brussels. If you are living outside Belgium, testing may be organized over a day or over consecutive days but this depends on the child’s attention span, particular learning issue and emotional state on the day. The testing is therefore generally done in two 3 hour sessions plus an ‘intake’ interview initially with just the parents of 45-60 minutes. You can do the intake interview and Testing Day 1 on the same day. Two weeks after the last testing day the parents return for the report and discussion about further needs and support of the child.
In terms of costs and reimbursement (at time of writing this article) parents need to pay €350 in cash on each day for the testing. Under the CNS (Luxembourg health system) this is not refundable because the service is outside Luxembourg and is not provided by a psychiatrist. Psychologists do not get reimbursed. Private medical cover may cover some of the costs, but you will need to check with your insurance provider to verify this.
After Diagnosis – What Next?
The aim of this process is to gather information that you can take to the next step this may or may not include a clearly defined diagnosis. But as part of this process don’t forget to speak to your child even if they are struggling to express any difficulties they might be experiencing. Children are generally aware when they are not ‘getting it right’ and will pick up on your stress. Take some time when you won’t be disturbed, preferably one-to-one, and ask them some specific questions about what is happening in school and their social life (activities outside school). Take time to observe you child in different environments.
Questions will need to be age appropriate e.g. younger children or children with suspected learning difficulties may have difficulty with abstract questions like ‘how did you feel’? If you know about a particular incident perhaps ask for some more detail from their perspective. Try to ask open questions (see active listening) and do not interrupt except for clarification. If your child feels that you are focused and listening to them they are more likely to open up and talk about what is going on for them.
See Ongoing Support for more information about resources and services available in Luxembourg.
Further Information: Useful Links
If you are concerned about your child or have any questions about parenting in Luxembourg you can contact the Online Parent service in English at the Kanner Jugend Telefon
Special Needs Jungle: This UK site is a useful resource for parents wanting to get information and advice about a range of Additional Educational Needs and Disabilities. Although it is a UK site and therefore directed to the British education system there are still plenty of useful articles.
Additude: is a magazine on the web aimed at supporting parents and teachers working with children with ADHD and other AEN however they have great resources that any parent can use. This article looks at how to break up a big school project for secondary aged kids.
Understood.org: This American site is for parents of children with learning and attention issue. They believe that with the right support, parents can help children unlock their strengths and reach their full potential. With state-of-the-art technology, personalized resources, practical tips and more, Understood aims to be that support.
Further Information: Recommended Reading
Series of short books by Fintan O’Regan – a UK specialist in supporting teachers and parents of children with AEN. Clear and useful tips for the classroom and home environment. All books are available at www.specialdirect.com.
Disorganised: Practical Ideas for Helping Children by Fintan O’Regan (2008)
Inattentive: Practical Ideas for Helping Children by Fintan O’Regan (2008)
Hyperactive: Practical Ideas for Helping Children by Fintan O’Regan (2008)
Success at School for Children with ADHD & Learning Disabilities – download the booklet here from the internet.
How to Distress a Child with an Invisible Disability Without Really Trying – This is a useful article for parents of children with ‘invisible disabilities’ including ADHD/ADD and ASD to possibly to share with their extended family, friends and school. Its purpose is to give insight to the real distress children and parents experience when people make assumptions about their disabled child.
Asperger’s or Autistic Spectrum Disorder
*The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome by Tony Attwood (2007)
This is a fairly academic book but is the most recommended for a thorough understanding of Asperger’s (Autistic Spectrum Disorder). See his website for more details.
*Parenting a Child with Asperger Syndrome: 200 Tips and Strategies by Brenda Boyd (2003)
This is a very practical guide developed by a mother whose child has Asperger’s (ASD). It gives useful insight into every day situations, reactions and meltdowns.
Be Different: My Advice for Fellow Aspergians, Misfits, Families & Teachers by John Elder Robison (2012)
This book was written by a successful man who has ASD following the success of his autobiography ‘Look me in the eye’. His mini interviews give a good insight into the syndrome from a first-person perspective. It is an inspirational and promising success story for parents and children with ASD. If you get some time, it might be helpful to check these out.
Lesser-known Things About Asperger’s Syndrome – This article gives a useful introduction for parents, teachers and extended family wanting to know about how Asperger’s ASD manifests and what we can do to be more sensitive to people with this different outlook on the world.
Dyspraxia, Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, Dyscalculia & Other Learning Disabilities
Train the Brain to Hear: Understanding and Treating Auditory Processing Disorder, Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, Dyspraxia, Short Term Memory by Jennifer L. Holland (2014)
This book was written by a parent and teacher for parents and teachers. The book provides explanations of the learning disabilities dysgraphia, dyslexia, dyscalculia, dyslexia and auditory processing disorder as well as the common areas that are affected by learning disabilities including short term memory, executive function and comprehension.
Understanding Dyspraxia – this article by Eric Patino, that gives a good overview of what Dyspraxia is, how it can be recognized and what support to look for.
The Dyslexic Advantage: Unlocking the Hidden Potential of the Dyslexic Brain by Brock. L. Eide and Fernette F. Eide (2014)
In this paradigm-shifting book, neuro-learning experts Brock and Fernette describe an exciting new brain science that reveals that people with dyslexia have unique brain structure and organisation. While the differences are responsible for certain challenges with literacy and reading, the dyslexic brain also gives a predisposition to important skills and special talents.
Dyslexia Pocketbook by Julie Bennet (2014)
Practical tools and techniques are provided for reading, handwriting, spelling, maths, speaking & listening, music, study skills and organisation.
Dysgraphia: Causes, Connections and Cures by Jane Sutherland (2014)
Dysgraphia is a disorder where a person has trouble with handwriting and word coherence. While it isn’t an intellectual impairment, it is associated with incorrect orthographic coding – processing words in the brain. Dysgraphia is similar to dyslexia; both affect writing or written expression. However, dyslexia is difficulty with language and dysgraphia is difficulty with writing. In children, the disorder is usually diagnosed as soon as they start writing. Dysgraphia has strong connections to other learning disabilities. Implementing helpful learning techniques can improve or even cure the condition.
The Dyscalculia Toolkit: Supporting Learning Difficulties in Maths by Ronit Bird (2013)
With over 200 activities and 40 games this book is designed to support learners aged 6 to 14 years, who have difficulty with maths and numbers. Ronit Bird provides a clear explanation of dyscalculia, and presents the resources in a straightforward fashion.
Language & Social Skills Development
The Hanen Centre is a Canadian not-for-profit charitable organization committed to supporting parents, early childhood educators and speech-language pathologists in their efforts to promote the best possible language, social and literacy skills in young children.
*It Takes Two To Talk: Practical Guide for Parents of Children with Language Delays by Jan Pepper & Elaine Weitzman (2004) The Hanen Program
*You Make the Difference in Helping Your Child Learn by Ayala Monolson (2007) The Hanen Program
*Talkabout for Children: Developing Social Skills by Alex Kelly (2012)
This book produced by Speechmark Publishing is recommended by speech therapists and practitioners working with children with delayed speech or other social skills needs.
*My Social Stories Book by Carol Grey & Abby Leigh White (2006)
Leading practitioner in the field of social skills development for children with AEN, Carol Grey has put together a book for teachers and parents to explain this technique of teaching children.
Social Rules for Kids – The Top 100 Social Rules Kids Need to Succeed by Susan Diamond M.A. (2011)
Useful book of social rules that will help any family hoping to help their children understand socially acceptable behavior. In particular it was written for child with ASD who often struggle with the social etiquette other people take for granted. See review for more information on the content.
* All books marked with an asterix are in our Passage lending library and are available for loan (free of charge). Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details on this service.
Last updated: Tuesday 17th March, 2015