As parents, we sometimes plan on embarking on one academic journey with our child, only to find ourselves on an altogether different journey. A journey of Special Education Needs (SEN), that possibly involves the protracted process of securing an Education, Health, and Care Plan (EHCP). The parenting experience suddenly becomes more complex., navigating the education system and advocating for our child’s rights can be overwhelming, leaving us feeling stressed and unsure.
As someone who has trodden this path, we understand the unique challenges you as parents or guardians face. Juggling various responsibilities while striving to provide the best support for our children. The scale of the impact on our mental health cannot be understated. I remember through the most challenging times, it wasn’t just the immediate family that was part of this journey of conflict and attrition, extended family, and siblings too.
This can have an impact on the mental health of parents and carers, who may feel overwhelmed, anxious, or frustrated by the process. Parents who have their own mental health challenges may have more difficulty providing care for their child compared to parents who describe their mental health as good
The Impact on Parents: Balancing Parenthood and Advocacy
Parents of children with SEN often find themselves juggling multiple responsibilities, including the emotional and financial aspects of parenting, while also advocating for their child’s educational needs. The constant demand for attention and the need to make critical decisions can take a toll on their mental and emotional well-being, leading to increased anxiety and stress.
There is some research that suggests that parents of children with SEN experience higher levels of stress and lower levels of well-being than parents of non-disabled children. During Carers Week in 2011, a report highlighted that 75% of carers, including parents with disabled children, experienced health issues due to their caring responsibilities. Of these, 76% had mental health problems, mainly depression, anxiety, and stress1.
Where is the source of stress coming from?
From my experience, the road sounds like an old gramophone record singing the song of underfunding, yet the frustration bubbles when the funding taps seem to be fully open to engaging in litigation, with opposing experts, and a long line of professional opinion swayers. The wall of progress appears almost unanimous, it can often feel like every entity that you engage with has the same hymn sheet.
Once you have navigated the whole process, jumped through hoops, and invested in more professional opinion swayers, then the challenge only begins, in the form of professional interpreters. That’s right the text in plain English you signed up for, doesn’t quite read the same to those tasked with delivery.
And the Circle continues
Special Educational Needs (SEN) encompasses a wide range of conditions and challenges, for example:
- Learning Disabilities: Children with learning disabilities may have difficulties in acquiring specific skills, such as reading, writing, or math. This can significantly impact their academic progress and may require specialized interventions and support.
- Communication Disorders: Children with communication disorders may have difficulties in speech and language development, making it challenging for them to express themselves and understand others.
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Children with ADHD may struggle with focus, organization, and self-control, which can affect their academic performance and social interactions.
- Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD): ASD is a developmental disorder that affects communication, social interaction, and behavior. Children with ASD may have difficulty understanding social cues, expressing emotions, and forming relationships with others.
- Emotional and Behavioral Disorders: Children with emotional and behavioral disorders may exhibit challenging behaviors, such as aggression, defiance, or withdrawal. These difficulties can impact their learning and social interactions in school and at home.
- Physical Disabilities: Children with physical disabilities may have mobility impairments or other physical limitations that require adaptive equipment and support to participate fully in educational activities.
- Sensory Processing Disorders: Sensory processing disorders affect how children perceive and respond to sensory stimuli, such as touch, sound, or light. This can impact their ability to engage in everyday activities and learn effectively.
- Specific Learning Difficulties: Specific learning difficulties, such as dyslexia or dyscalculia, refer to difficulties in specific areas of learning. Children with these difficulties may have average or above-average intelligence but struggle with specific academic skills.
Statistics and Stats
Regarding statistics, data from the Department for Education indicates a consistent rise in the number of children and young people benefiting from EHC plans. As of January 2023, there were 517,026 EHC plans in place, up from 473,300 in 20224. The data indicates an increasing number of families are pursuing the process of obtaining an EHCP for their child.
- Learning Disabilities: Approximately 2.16% of adults and 2.5% of children in the UK are believed to have a learning disability1.
- Communication Disorders: The most common type of need for those with SEN support is speech, language, and communication needs2.
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): It is estimated that between 2% to 5% of school-aged children have ADHD3.
- Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD): 2.4% of the UK student population is diagnosed with autism4.
- Emotional and Behavioral Disorders: A poll of almost 38,000 UK students suggests rates of psychological distress and illness are on the rise in universities, with “alarmingly high” levels of anxiety, loneliness, substance misuse, and thoughts of self-harm5.
- Physical Disabilities: 14.4% of students in England had special educational needs in England, and learning disability statistics for the UK from 2017 reveal6.
- Sensory Processing Disorders: It is estimated that between 5% and 16.5% of the general population have symptoms associated with sensory integration difficulties and these estimates are higher for people with autism or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)7.
- Intellectual Disabilities: Approximately 2.16% of adults and 2.5% of children in the UK are believed to have a learning disability1.
- Specific Learning Difficulties: The most common type of need for those with an EHC plan is autistic spectrum disorder and for those with SEN support is speech, language, and communication needs2.
A diverse array of Special Educational Needs (SEN) exists, and each type brings forth distinct challenges for parents and caregivers. For instance, children with disabilities and SEN tend to be more prone to encountering sleep and behavioural difficulties, which may persist into adulthood. A child who does not sleep well can affect the whole family, leaving parents exhausted, unable to think clearly, and struggling to cope with their daily activities.
Several case studies are available that shed light on the challenges faced by parents and carers of children with SEN. These real-life examples offer valuable insights into the experiences and difficulties they encounter while navigating the complex world of special educational needs. For example, the website EHCP Journeys provides a collection of family stories that take a closer look at children with different needs and their journeys through the EHC process3.
Undoubtedly, securing an EHCP for a child with SEN can profoundly affect the mental well-being of parents and carers. During this demanding journey, it becomes vital for parents to prioritise their own mental health and seek assistance if necessary. Embracing self-care and reaching out for support are crucial steps in navigating this challenging process successfully. There are organisations that provide free support and advice to parents and carers of children with SEN, such as Scope1,
Therapy designed specifically for Parents’ Stress and Anxiety challenges Navigating the SEN Process
The mental health of parents and carers is in my opinion overlooked in the process of obtaining support for a child with Special Educational Needs (SEN). The process of applying for an Education, Health, and Care Plan (EHCP) is stressful and time-consuming, and it can be difficult to navigate the system and understand the requirements.
This is why at the Bohangar City Practice I have developed a Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy (CBH) program specifically designed for parents just like you in the SEN Parent tsunami. Delivered by someone, just like you, who has been there, knee-deep in all the stages of the SEN process.
As a private practice, there is no association, links, or funding, with Local Authority Councils.
How CBH Supports Parents in Finding Balance
CBH is specifically tailored to help parents find balance in their lives while navigating the complexities of raising a child with SEN and an EHCP. Through personalized sessions, CBH empowers parents with coping strategies and stress-management techniques, enabling them to face challenges with resilience and a positive outlook.
CBH helps parents:
- Manage Stress and Anxiety: CBH equips parents with relaxation techniques and coping mechanisms to reduce stress and anxiety levels during difficult moments.
- Foster Emotional Resilience: By working on the subconscious mind, CBH helps parents build emotional resilience, enabling them to handle both triumphs and setbacks with grace.
- Improve Sleep Quality: CBH addresses sleep-related issues caused by parental stress, allowing parents to rest better and wake up refreshed.
- Enhance Communication Skills: CBH can improve communication skills, enabling parents to effectively communicate with educators, therapists, and other professionals involved in their child’s care.
- Foster Positive Parent-Child Relationships: By promoting self-awareness and emotional well-being, CBH helps parents maintain positive and supportive relationships with their children.
Taking the First Step: Accessing CBH Resources for Stress Relief
If you’re a parent navigating the complex world of SEN and EHCP and struggling with stress and anxiety, Bohangar CBH offers a ray of hope. Reach out to experienced CBH practitioners and explore the wealth of resources available to support you on this journey.
Remember, finding balance in your life doesn’t happen overnight, but with CBH’s personalized approach, you can take positive steps toward a more fulfilling and peaceful parenting experience. Embrace the power of Bohangar CBH and discover the transformative effects it can have on your well-being as you continue to be the strong advocate your child needs.
FAQ Section: Understanding CBH Hypnotherapy, SEN, and EHCP
1. What is CBH Hypnotherapy? CBH Hypnotherapy, or Cognitive Behavioral Hypnotherapy, is a therapeutic approach that combines the principles of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Hypnotherapy. It aims to address negative thought patterns and behaviours while utilizing the relaxed and focused state of hypnosis.
2. How can CBH Hypnotherapy help parents of children with SEN? CBH Hypnotherapy provides parents with tools and strategies to manage stress, anxiety, and other emotional challenges that arise from navigating the SEN process. It promotes emotional resilience, improved sleep quality, and better communication skills.
3. What does SEN stand for? SEN stands for Special Educational Needs. It refers to children who have learning difficulties or disabilities that make it harder for them to learn compared to most children of the same age.
4. How is an EHCP different from SEN? An EHCP, or Education, Health, and Care Plan, is a legal document that describes a child’s special educational needs and the extra help they should receive. While SEN identifies the need, EHCP is the plan of action to address those needs.
5. How long does the EHCP process take? The entire EHCP assessment and decision-making process, from the point of the initial request to the final EHCP being issued, should take no longer than 20 weeks in most cases.
6. Can CBH Hypnotherapy be done online? Yes, many practitioners offer CBH Hypnotherapy sessions online, allowing parents to access support from the comfort of their homes. It’s essential to ensure the therapist is qualified and experienced in online sessions.
7. Is CBH Hypnotherapy safe? Absolutely. CBH Hypnotherapy is a non-invasive and safe therapeutic approach. However, it’s crucial to work with a certified and experienced therapist to ensure the best outcomes.
8. How often should I attend CBH Hypnotherapy sessions? The frequency of sessions varies based on individual needs. Some parents benefit from weekly sessions, while others might attend fortnightly or monthly. Your therapist will work with you to determine the best schedule.
9. Are there any side effects to CBH Hypnotherapy? CBH Hypnotherapy is generally considered safe with minimal side effects. Some individuals might feel a bit disoriented immediately after a session, but this feeling typically subsides quickly. Always discuss any concerns with your therapist.
10. How can I start the EHCP process for my child? To start the EHCP process, you can request an assessment for your child through your local authority. It’s beneficial to gather evidence of your child’s needs, such as reports from teachers, doctors, or other professionals, to support your request.