Complex needs

Are you a professional working with children and young people with complex needs? 

On this page you can find information on classroom activities, including lesson ideas and resources; communication, touch and objects of reference; mobility and movement; vision and hearing assessments; vision impairment and autism and more.
VITAL is the professional network for staff working with children with vision impairment and additional complex needs. Find out about events and training opportunities or join the email group to share ideas and ask questions. 


This guide explores how to assess vision and hearing in children with complex needs.


This guide covers developing skills in communicating with children with complex needs, including the use of communication technology, touch and objects of reference.

In the classroom

This guide looks at developing play, information and communications technology (ICT), multi-sensory environments, creative and musical sessions, and sensory stories. It includes ideas and suggestions for lesson activities, considering your classroom environment and sourcing and producing resources.

The staff team

These guides aims to help different practitioners understand the purpose, method and outcomes of each other's interventions with the children they support.

Understanding complex needs

This guide looks at children and young people themselves, the nature of their sensory, physical, learning or medical needs, and how these affect growth and development. We look at attachment issues and sensory integration difficulties.

Visual impairment and autism

The Visual Impairment and Autism Project aimed to identify and share practice that supports the education of children who have visual impairment and autism. The combination of visual impairment and autism has an extremely low incidence but has a very high impact. Many of the approaches that are used with sighted children who have autism, rely heavily on vision. Such methods are not necessarily suitable for children who have little or no sight. Conversely, some of the approaches used for children who have visual impairment may not be suitable for those who also have autism.
RNIB, The National Autistic Society, Brookfields Specialist SEN school, and Sunfield collaborated to produce a resource to address these needs.
The Visual impairment and autism resource pack
Note: You will need to extract the files once downloaded in order for the links within the resource to work. Please read the instructions provided. If you have any problems please email 
For further information on communication in children with visual impairment and autism visit the website of Ian Bell