20 Ways to Include Children and Young People with Additional Needs

As part of Me2 Club’s 20th Anniversary campaign, we are sharing monthly ideas of 20 things to do, learn or inspire. This month, the team at Me2 Club have looked at things you can do to help a child or young person feel included. We have incorporated suggestions that young people have made.

Every child and young person is unique and won’t need all these things. In addition, there maybe things that would  help a young person to be included that we haven’t listed here. Always ask how you can make someone feel more comfortable and pay attention to verbal and nonverbal feedback.

1Allow fidget and sensory aids to enable a young person to concentrate and regulate their sensory needs.
2Arrange a venue which is quiet and absorbs sounds. This helps autistic young people and those who having a hearing impairment.
3Allow young people time to process information and formulate their response. Be patient!
4Some young people are particularly sensitive to smells. Avoid strong air fresheners and perfumes.
5Allow young people to bring a supporter if they wish.
6Let young people choose how they communicate with you. Some people are more confident texting rather than phoning, for example.
7Unstructured time can be difficult for young people. Offer practical things to do such as sensory aids, books etc.
8Allow young people to be themselves. Some find eye contact or small talk really difficult. This doesn’t mean that they don’t want to be friendly. Allow them to choose when to interact.
9Flickering strip lights can be distracting and cause headaches. Try to use natural light or good quality artificial light. Remember some of your young people may need to lip read.
10Where possible, choose a venue that is wheel and power chair accessible, including the toilets.
11Be clear what is happening when. Visual aids and routine can really help with this.
12Provide a quiet area where young people can take a movement break or a sensory break. This helps them regulate their sensory needs and helps them to concentrate.
13Young people with additional needs have often been bullied. Be sensitive to this and tackle and bullying straight away. You can also learn more about being trauma informed.
14Formal interviews don’t always allow you to see what a young person is capable of.  Allow young people to show you what they can do such as allowing them to bring in work they have done or even a video of them doing similar work
15Try to ensure a venue is near Blue Badge parking.
16Ensure information is easy to read and available in larger type. Caption videos.
17Enrol on a BSL or Makaton course!
18When serving food, offer a range of refreshments including simple, plain food.
19Offer choice wherever possible and allow young people to have a say in what they take part in.
20Ask young people what they need. If they can’t communicate, ask their parent carers and notice their reactions.
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