A fifth of children have special needs, says new research

Number of children diagnosed as having special needs has risen by 19% to 31,350

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The number of children under 5 who need extra help with speech and language has risen from 14,710 in 2008 to 17,940, figures from the Department for Education show. Medical and education professionals are once again locked in a heated debate over the latest stats, reports the Daily Mail.

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The statistics also show that 23.4% boys registered as having special needs compared to only 13.5% of girls.

Sceptics argue that doctors have become too eager to diagnose normal child behaviour as a behavioural difficulty.

“You can’t do a blood test to check whether you’ve got ADHD – it’s diagnosed through a behavioural checklist.

“Getting out of your seat and running about is an example – half the kids in a school could qualify under that criterion,” said Dr Gwynedd Lloyd, an education researcher at the University of Edinburgh

Others have suggested the increase is down to parents pressuring schools and doctors for a diagnosis, with cynics feeling many cases are just about children being naughty or slower to learn.

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