Sensory and Physical (S&P) aged 4 – 7

Advice for professionals working with SEND aged 4 to 7

This SEND Index of Harms resource is for children and young people (CYP) with Sensory and Physical need. It is broken down by the strands from the Education for a Connected World Framework.

Self-image and identity

This strand explores the differences between online and offline identity beginning with self-awareness, shaping online identities and media influence in propagating stereotypes. It identifies effective routes for reporting and support and explores the impact of online technologies on self-image and behaviour. (Education for a Connected World framework – 2020 edition, UK Council for Internet Safety)

Likely Harm: Impact of technology on self-image and identity


  • Visually impaired will be unable to distinguish between different online identities
  • Often impacted by SEMH needs which may make CYP vulnerable to misinterpreting information
  • CYP with limited communication skills will not be able to speak up or speak out
  • CYP with cognitive disability will not be able to identify and/or report abuse
  • CYP may not be able to access devices or online content due to their disability

Possible responses

  • Use visual cues to aid responses
  • Make use of a trusted adult to discuss the dangers and consequences of visiting inappropriate websites
  • Use internet safety lesson plans/games and activities to reinforce self-identity
  • Social stories could include a focus on internet safety
  • Story sacks
  • ELSA social interaction and identity support
  • Activities focused on assertive communication learning phrases such as ‘No’, ‘I don’t like it’, ‘Go away’, ‘Stop’
  • Specific training for staff around vigilance in respect of CYP with SEND
  • Assess difficulties and research or develop effective alternatives and strategies This includes seeking advice from other professionals or commercial providers that may have appropriate experience working with specific needs

Online relationships

This strand explores how technology shapes communication styles and identifies strategies for positive relationships in online communities. It offers opportunities to discuss relationships, respecting, giving and denying consent and behaviours that may lead to harm and how positive online interaction can empower and amplify voice. (Education for a Connected World framework – 2020 edition, UK Council for Internet Safety)

Likely Harm: Relationships, consent and behaviours leading to harm


  • Dependent on adult support to give or deny permission online and without support wrong choices may be made
  • CYP may find it difficult to meet friends or gain access to friendship groups online due to their disability

Possible responses

  • Storybooks – online safety
  • Video guides – online gaming, watching videos for young learners
  • Social stories – story sacks
  • CBT
  • Lego therapy sessions
  • Play therapy programme
  • Art therapy sessions
  • ELSA support on online relationships
  • Proactively develop buddy systems and promote the strengths and qualities of CYP to their peers

Online reputation

This strand explores the concept of reputation and how others may use online information to make judgements. It offers opportunities to develop strategies to manage personal digital content effectively and capitalise on technology’s capacity to create effective positive profiles. (Education for a Connected World framework – 2020 edition, UK Council for Internet Safety)

Likely Harm: Others may use your online reputation to make judgements about you


  • May not be able to see all online information (visually impaired)
  • May not be able to communicate any potential risks to an adult (PMLD)

Possible responses

  • Discussion, visuals around social boundaries
  • Puppets – social boundaries
  • ELSA support sessions around social boundaries – Yes/No, Do/Don’t
  • Videos – online safety
  • ELSA support around emotions and worries/anxiety
  • CBT
  • Lego therapy
  • Art therapy
  • Play therapy
  • Support with anger management – appropriate responses
  • Choice guidance – through basic red/green routes – cause consequence
  • Guidance on seeking support – Who can help me? How do I talk with them?

Online bullying

This strand explores bullying and other online aggression and how technology impacts those issues. It offers strategies for effective reporting and intervention and considers how bullying and other aggressive behaviour relates to legislation. (Education for a Connected World framework – 2020 edition, UK Council for Internet Safety)

Likely Harm: Bullying and aggression can harm others


  • May not see bullying or be able to identify on a screen (visually impaired)
  • May not be able to communicate to a trusted adult about concerns online
  • May be subject to abuse or bullying due to physical differences
  • Families sharing images and stories about their CYP may be insulted and driven off online media

Possible responses

Managing Online Information

This strand explores how online information is found, viewed and interpreted. It offers strategies for effective searching, critical evaluation of data, the recognition of risks and the management of online threats and challenges. It explores how online threats can pose risks to our physical safety as well as online safety. It also covers learning relevant to ethical publishing. (Education for a Connected World framework – 2020 edition, UK Council for Internet Safety)

Likely Harm: Online information can be found, viewed and interpreted


  • May not be able to use voice-activated software which could cause frustration
  • Potentially unable to explain to a trusted adult if online content creates sadness, worry, anxiety
  • CYP’s articulation may not be sufficiently well developed for the effective use of voice-activated devices

Possible responses

  • Teach young person with sensory and physical difficulties the rules of online safety
  • Make effective use of stories, puppets, choice and consequence activities and role-play activities to promote experiences and appropriate responses to online safety situations
  • Explore IT solutions around articulation problems
  • SaLT input to develop key activation sounds

Health, wellbeing and lifestyle

This strand explores the impact that technology has on health, well-being and lifestyle e.g. mood, sleep, body health and relationships. It also includes understanding negative behaviours and issues amplified and sustained by online technologies and the strategies for dealing with them. (Education for a Connected World framework – 2020 edition, UK Council for Internet Safety)

Likely Harm: Technology can impact on mood, sleep, body health and relationships


  • May struggle to fully understand or access online safety rules depending on the level of difficulties
  • CYP with neurological conditions such as epilepsy may be adversely affected by prolonged time in front of a screen
  • Families may be lured or duped by online content into adopting spurious ‘cures’ and interventions which are not beneficial to their CYP

Possible responses

  • Requires supervision/trusted adult
  • Skills-builder passport activities
  • Videos age-related for online safety
  • Workshops focusing on identifying false ‘cures’ and fake interventions that are promoted online

Privacy and security

This strand explores how personal online information can be used, stored, processed and shared. It offers both behavioural and technical strategies to limit impact on privacy and protect data and systems against compromise. (Education for a Connected World framework – 2020 edition, UK Council for Internet Safety)

Likely Harm: Personal information can be stored, used and shared which can lead to harm


  • May not be able to access passwords, online content safely due to visual/auditory impairment

Possible responses

  • Sessions supported with activity packs and videos on new or reinforced learning about sharing images, online gaming, watching videos, social media and live streaming
  • Educate parent/carers on privacy and security

Copyright and ownership

This strand explores the concept of ownership of online content. It explores strategies for protecting personal content and crediting the rights of others as well as addressing potential consequences of illegal access, download and distribution. (Education for a Connected World framework – 2020 edition, UK Council for Internet Safety)

Likely Harm: Potential consequences of illegal access, download and distribution of content


  • Physical/visual/auditory impairments make it difficult to understand permission of online information

Possible responses

  • Teach CYP with sensory and physical needs the rules of online safety
  • Basic personal profiles, discussion and understanding of cause and effect
  • Social stories
  • Social interaction games

Useful resources

See our list of useful resources for further support.

Inclusive digital safety resources


Professional Online Safety Helpline


Over 13 – Report Harmful Content Professional Online Safety Helpline

Project Envolve



Childnet Star resource



SEND: Sensory and Physical (S&P)


Advice by Age

Use our list of practical tips to help children have a safer online experience and get the best out of the digital world as they grow.

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