At CBeebies we believe passionately that what we do should be enjoyed by all children, including those with additional needs. We believe that it’s important for children a disability to see themselves positively represented on the channel, so we make every effort to do so. We also produce shows, activities and parenting resources for children with a range of different needs.
Problems with speech and language are the most common developmental difficulty in the UK where studies indicate that as many as 1 in 10 children may be affected in some way. Children with communication difficulties may have problems understanding language, using spoken language, producing the sounds needed for spoken language or problems with their listening and attention skills.
The impact of these difficulties can be profound, affecting children’s ability to follow instructions and understand information, making it difficult for them to develop social skills and form relationships and making them frustrated at not being able to express themselves, sometimes leading to tantrums.
There are lots of strategies parents can use to help children with communication difficulties, you can find out more about these on our communication difficulties page.
Something Special, featuring Mr Tumble, AKA Justin Fletcher, is designed to be enjoyed by all children but is particularly aimed at children with communication difficulties. The show gives children an introduction to using Makaton signing, which can help support communication and language development. You can find out more about using Makaton signing and how it could help your child in this Makaton resource for parents.
The Something Special website also has a range of games designed to be suitable for children with communication difficulties and many Makaton signs to watch and print out.
Health and Medical Needs
Looking after a child with a long term health condition can be incredibly hard. It can mean frequent medical appointments and hospital visits which can be stressful both because you're worrying about the outcome and because it can be very hard to fit it around a 'normal' life, especially if you're trying to hold down a job or have oter children as well.
Our page on dealing with health problems and operations has lots of practical suggestions and strategies for making hospitals and medical conditions less stressful and easier to fit in to your life.
Children with physical disabilities may have problems with gross or fine motor skills, balance and co-ordination, or muscle tone. They may need extra help and support with everyday activities like walking, feeding themselves or holding a pencil.
'Switch' is the name of the technology which makes access to computers easier for children who have difficulty using a mouse or keyboard.
'Switch compatible games' are those which have been designed to be controlled by just one or two keys - usually 'Enter' or the spacebar to select, sometimes 'Tab' as well in order to move between options. This makes the games easy to control and suitable for children who don't have a high level of mouse or keyboard skill.
CBeebies’ show Tree Fu Tom has been specially designed to encourage children to develop movement skills, especially those with Dyspraxia - a developmental coordination disorder that causes difficulty in acquiring foundation movement skills. You can read more about how the movements in Tree Fu Tom can help children with movement difficulties and Dyspraxia in this article.
Deaf children and children with a hearing impairment
If you or your child uses BSL, check out Magic Hands, a ground-breaking show on CBeebies featuring poetry translated into BSL. Magic Hands features an entirely deaf cast of presenters interpreting a selection of classic poems through BSL and animation.
Children with a visual impairment
Melody is a show designed to introduce preschool children to a variety of classical music through stories and animation. Melody, the title character, is a partially-sighted girl with an incredible imagination. CBeebies worked with the RNIB to make the show as accessible as possible for children with a visual impairment, by working with high contrast colours, having centrally-focused action, bigger movements, longer shots and telling the story as much as possible with voiceover and sound effects.