Helping Sunderland children with special needs

New sessions at Sunningdale School.
New sessions at Sunningdale School.
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A new community group in the city is helping youngsters with special needs.

Sunningdale School is taking its pre-school services out into the community to bring together families with little ones who have special needs.

The school, in Shaftoe Road, caters for primary aged children with additional needs and already runs the Sunderland Portage Service.

Assistant headteacher, James Waller, said the scheme is a home-based service for pre-school children with significant additional needs.

He said: “Children can be referred to the service by a professional working with the child or by the parent themselves.

“Portage visitors assess the needs of the child and work in partnership with their parents to build on their abilities and develop new skills.

“Portage visitors and parents discuss and agree long term goals.”

He said a carefully structured activities programme is created for each child to enable parents to support and encourage effective learning.

However, to extend the service, Sunderland Portage Service has now launched a community group which will run weekly from 10am on Fridays at Monument Children’s Centre in partnership with the Speech and Language Therapy Department at City Hospitals Sunderland.

Mr Waller said the group was successfully launched with a recent Teddy Bear’s Fun Day where children were provided with lots of fun sensory experiences and parents and carers had the opportunity to make new and important friendships.

He said: “Portage visitors usually work with families in their homes.

“The group will offer an opportunity for these parents to meet, discuss issues and support one another whilst their children have opportunities to interact socially.”

Anyone who has a child with special needs and would like to know more about the pre-school community group should contact the school on 0191 553 5880 or go along to one of the sessions.