Special Educational Needs


All children, including children with special educational needs, have a right to an education which is appropriate to their needs. The aims of education for pupils with special educational needs are the same as apply to all children. The aim of  Education should be to enable all children, in line with their abilities, to live full and independent lives so that they can contribute to their communities, cooperate with other people and continue to learn throughout their lives. Education is about supporting children to develop in all aspects of their lives including;  cognitive, emotional, imaginative, aesthetic, social and physical.

What are special educational needs?

Special educational needs may arise from the following different areas of disability:

  • physical
  • sensory
  • mental health
  • learning disability
  • any other condition that results in the child learning differently from a child without that condition.
  • It is also important to understand that a child can have a disability but not have any special educational needs arising from that disability which require additional supports in school.

What is inclusion in schools?

Inclusion in schools means creating an environment where children with special educational needs
can work, play and live with children who do not have special educational needs. Every child has an individual learning programme which ensures that she develops to his or her full potential, regardless of ability. This approach needs extra resources, including more teachers, smaller student groups and individualised instruction.

Assessments and school placements in Kenya 

The Educational Assessment and Curriculum Support Centres are provided by the Government to support the educational assessment and curriculum of children in Kenya. They are currently based at District level. The Curriculum Support Officers (CSO) tend to be from a teaching or occupational health background and are responsible for carrying out the individual assessments to identify levels of impairment and make the required recommendations to support children with their education. This can be through referrals to other health care professionals such as occupational therapists, physiotherapists or speech therapists, provision of assistive devices and/ or registration for social support. Curriculum Support Officers also draw up an individual education plan for each child which detail key learning milestones and specify the support required. 

Screen your child

Screening tools alone cannot diagnose a person with a disability, but they can show which children are “at risk” for having one. The information you provide can help a professional complete a full evaluation.

Assessment Services at KISE (Kenya Institute of Special Education)

Assessments done in the following areas:

  • Visual impairment
  • Autism
  • Mental handicap
  • Physical & multiple disabilities
  • Learning difficulties
  • Speech language & communication difficulties
  • Emotional & behavioural difficulties
  • Hearing impairment

The assessments are free of charge. All children under the age of 6 are eligible. Assessments are done every Tuesday & Thursday during the school calendar. Assessment is upon booking. Contact details:

Kasarani, Thika Superhighway Exit 8

Off Kasarani-Mwiki Rd

P. O. Box 48413 – 00100


Telephone: +254-20- 8007977 or  +254-734-801860

Email: info at kise.ac.ke

Website: http://kise.ac.ke/assessment-services/

Learning Disability and Learning 

Autism and related developmental disabilities

Children with autism spectrum disorders are often visual learners. That means they understand what they see better than what they hear. Because of this trait, they can benefit from the use of visual communication supports, even if they are able to talk. Visual supports can be picture schedules, behavior charts, cue cards for behavior and other such items.

Using visual schedules can help children with autism to have easier transitions. It can lessen their anxiety, as they provide a concrete reminder the children can see of what is happening through out the day.

Behavioral charts and other visual behavior supports can help the student as they remind them what behavior is expected of them. See examples of these charts on our autistic spectrum disorder page


Many people with a learning disability can use or recognise some signs. Signalong and Makaton are both Sign Supported English systems. They are based on British Sign Language (BSL) but are used to support the spoken word. To find out more you can visit the Signalong website at www.signalong.org.uk or visit the Makaton website at www.makaton.org.uk. 


Signalong is a communication method used by individuals with a speech, language and communication need. The Signalong methodology has been effectively used with individuals who have cognitive impairments, autism, Down’s Syndrome, specific language impairment, multisensory impairment  and acquired neurological disorders that have negatively affected the ability to communicate, including stroke patients. 

The name "Signalong" is derived from the understanding that wherever possible the sign is accompanied with speech, hence you "sign along with speech". The programme was devised in 1991 by Gill Kennard, a language teacher, Linda Hall, a science teacher who produced the illustrations and Thelma Grove, a speech and language therapist from the Royal College of Speech & Language Therapists. Signalong is a registered trade mark of The Signalong Group, a charity established in 1994.

Signalong is based on British Sign Language adapted for the needs and abilities of children and adults with verbal communication difficulties. It uses one sign per concept, one concept per sign. Signalong is a sign–supporting system used in spoken word order and uses a total communication approach to reference links between sign and word. It also uses key-words i.e. the essential word in any sentence, and uses signs at partner’s level and moderate language to ensure that the message is understood. Signalong follows a consistent method of four elements; handshape - how the hands are formed; orientation - how the hands are held; placement - where the hands are held and movement - any changes in the first three elements.

Signalong is used extensively throughout the UK, but has also been adapted for use in countries including France, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Germany and Romania.

Symbols and symbolic languages 

Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)

What is PECS?

PECS was developed in 1985 as a unique augmentative/alternative communication intervention package for individuals with autism spectrum disorder and related developmental disabilities. First used at the Delaware Autistic Program, PECS has received worldwide recognition for focusing on the initiation component of communication. PECS does not require complex or expensive materials. It was created with families, educators, and resident care providers in mind, so is readily used in a range of settings.

PECS begins by teaching an individual to give a picture of a desired item to a “communicative partner", who immediately honours the exchange as a request. The system goes on to teach discrimination of pictures and how to put them together in sentences. In the more advanced phases, individuals are taught to answer questions and to comment.

PECS has been successful with individuals of all ages demonstrating a variety of communicative, cognitive and physical difficulties. Some learners using PECS also develop speech. Others may transition to a voice output system. The body of research supporting the effectiveness of PECS continues to expand, with research from countries around the world.

References and further information: