Children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) tend to have poorer mental health compared to their typically developing peers. The reasons for this are not fully understood but are thought to be a complex interplay of genetic and environmental factors. For example, children with SEND are more likely to be bullied by their peers and siblings, have poorer quality friendships, and may face stigmatisation, all of which are known to be risk factors for poor mental health. Furthermore, children with speech, language, and communication needs may find it difficult to understand, express themselves, and talk to someone in times of psychological distress.
The current outbreak of Coronavirus, in particular the prospect of self-isolation, presents a particularly challenging situation for children with SEND and their families. This award supports a study of the the mental health of c. 500 children aged 5-18 years with SEND and their parents. The specific research questions are:
1. How does the mental health of children with SEND change during the Coronavirus pandemic?
2. Which factors predict the change in the mental health of children with SEND during the Coronavirus pandemic?
3. How would parents of children with SEND like to be supported?