"Whether you are working with pupils in a mainstream school or in an SEN setting, it is really important for them to have access to the truth."

All children and young people, regardless of their circumstances, have a right to have their grief recognised, hear the truth and to be given opportunities to express their feelings and emotions.

It is often assumed that young people with learning difficulties need protection from death and dying, or that they do not have the capacity to understand. However, it is important not to underestimate a pupil’s ability to cope with difficult life events. Children and young people tell us that clear communication about what is happening is helpful when someone important to them dies or is dying.

Even if a child does not have the capacity to fully understand what death means, this does not mean that they are not affected by it. Therefore, all children and young people need to be told what has happened.

“It has been acknowledged that grief responses in people with learning disabilities are more like the responses experienced by non-learning disabled individuals than they are different (Oswin 1991; Wadsworth & Harper 1991).”

Rachel Mappin, 2005