Services that can help with diagnosis
The following services can help with a diagnosis:
Various health service professionals can diagnose your child’s difficulties and/or offer help. These include:
Paediatricians specialise in children’s health and development. They may diagnose your child with autism and offer support.
Psychiatrists are often involved when children have mental health difficulties. They may diagnose your child with ASD (autistic spectrum disorder) and offer support.
Clinical psychologists help children with specific problems or behaviour difficulties. They may diagnose your child with autism and offer support.
Health visitors are qualified nurses with additional training in children’s health.
They can visit families at home when they have children under five and give advice on development, feeding, childcare and behaviour.
Occupational therapists (OTs)
OTs help children carry out everyday activities, such as using cutlery to eat. They offer help to children with autism, especially those with sensory needs.
Physiotherapists focus on physical and motor development. They can assess your child to see whether they would benefit from physiotherapy treatment. They also give advice on equipment that might be helpful.
Speech and language therapists (SALTs)
Speech and language therapists assess speech, language and communication difficulties and put together a programme of support. This may involve helping them to use different communication systems.
Speech and language therapists are often involved in the diagnosis of ASD as part of a multi-disciplinary team. You can access support from a speech and language therapist on the NHS through a referral by your GP.
Speech and language therapists often work closely with teachers.
Your local Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) may be involved if there are concerns about your child’s mental health. They are able to recommend counselling or other mental health services that your child might benefit from.
Teachers have a duty to meet the needs of children with special educational needs (SEN) in their class.
The special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO) is the teacher who has overall responsibility for organising the support for children with SEN in the school. The SENCO not only provides support to other staff but they also liaise with the local authority to make sure the child gets the help they need. They don’t always work directly with your child.
Sometimes, schools ask for a statutory assessment of a child’s educational needs. Alternatively, they may help you make a formal request. Once this has happened the SENCO will organise EHCP’s to be drawn up and an annual review to discuss your child’s progress.
Local authority services
Local authority services for children, including education, are now combined into Children’s Services Authorities or Children’s Trusts. Professionals work more closely than before, but they still they operate under different legislation and often separate funding.
Early years key worker
Young children with complex needs and their families may be allocated a key worker or lead professional. They can come from health, education or social care services.
The key worker will give you information and co-ordinate the help available from various services. They act as a first contact, helping you understand the system and services (this may include benefits, education and health)
The key worker will take responsibility for agreeing a Family Service Plan with you and reviewing it regularly.
Educational psychologist (EP)
This is usually a qualified teacher who has undertaken extra psychology training. They carry out observations and assessments on children with SEN. They can then offer suggestions to teachers on ways to support your child. Some EP’s work privately
Special educational needs officer
The special educational needs officer (or Named Officer) is your contact at county (local education services).
Parent partnership service (PPS)
Every local authority has a parent partnership service. Parent partnership help parents deal with schools and local authorities. They can support through the statementing process and may also offer help with an independent parent supporter.
You can request an assessment of your child’s needs from Social Services. Social workers can give advice and support on services like play schemes, respite care and parent groups. Social workers are involved in assessing the care needs of people with disabilities and their families. They also help with arrangements to meet those needs.
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