I think my child needs help

The first steps to take and who to speak to about your child.

Parents and carers are often the first people to notice their child needs help. This might be about many things such as:

  • behaviour: difficulty following rules or directions, self-harm, becoming overly upset and having ‘meltdowns’ and repetitive behaviour in speech, play or tasks
  • speech and language: communication skills, articulation, fluency such as repetitions of sounds, syllables, or words, for example 'b-b-but I don’t know' or if you observe your child has not started speaking according to Ages and stages
  • eating: being extremely fussy about food, including textures and tastes, displaying disruptive behaviour during mealtime, experiencing anxiety or stress, worries about choking, concerns about social interactions during meals
  • toileting: experiencing difficulty engaging in toilet training, constipation, and over the age of 5, anxious about using the toilet to fully empty their bladder, daytime wetting or night time accidents.

The information on this page can help you decide what to do next. It covers who to talk to and the options available at different stages.

You know your child best. If you think they need help, there are professionals you can speak to.

Who to speak to about health

For all children, the best person to speak to is your health visitor, or GP. 

You can find a GP on the NHS website.

Health visitors play an important role in making sure all children have the best start in life. They are available to all families with babies and children up to the age of 5. They offer regular health and development reviews from when your child is born until they are 2 years old.

Your GP or health visitor may refer your child on to the Cheyne Child Development services if there are further concerns. The child development services are responsible for assessing, diagnosing, and supporting, children with developmental difficulties up to 19 years old. 

Your GP or health visitor may refer your child to other professionals such as a speech and language therapist or the school working with the child can also help with a referral.

There are many things you can look out for, including speech and language, social development and physical development. Read about what to expect at different ages on the BBC's Tiny Happy People website.

You can find information about your baby's health and development reviews on the NHS website.

Things to note down while you wait for an appointment with your health visitor or GP

Whatever age your child is, make notes on anything you have noticed before the appointment, including dates.

This could include the way your child:

  • plays
  • learns
  • speaks
  • acts
  • moves

This will help your health professionals understand what’s going on. 

Who to speak to about learning

The best option is to contact the setting the child or young person attends, including the child’s children's centre, nursery, school, or college.

If your child has needs, all education providers must have help in place to support them.

They can work with you to figure out:

  • what is happening
  • why it's happening now
  • the next steps

Together you can explore ways to meet their needs.

For children under 5 years old, our Early Years advisory team can also support the setting and the practitioners working with the child through the Early Years Foundation Stage. You can reach the team at eyfservice@lbhf.gov.uk.

For children 5 and over, the setting teacher or the special educational needs coordinator (SENCO), who is a designated staff member to oversee and coordinate support for children and young people (CYP) with special educational needs, can provide support. 

Education settings may ask other professionals, such as a specialist teacher, educational psychologist or speech and language therapist, for additional support.

To find out what you can expect from settings, please visit the Ordinarily Available Provision Guide.

If you think your child needs help with reading or writing

Talk to your child to find out what they are finding difficult. Talk to your child’s teacher, if they are at a setting or school.
Some useful questions might be:

  • how is my child doing?
  • what can the school do to help if my child is struggling?
  • what can I do to help, if my child is struggling?

Other services that can provide initial support

Families can also seek advice at their local family hub.

If you still have concerns, you can contact the Early Help service. The team supports families with children aged 0-19 who are facing challenges including mental health, domestic abuse, and drug and alcohol use, as well as employment, parenting, housing, social isolation, and educational issues including school attendance and behaviour.

Plan your help and support

Visit SEND support in schools, colleges, and nurseries to learn more about what support you can expect from mainstream schools and speak to your school or education setting about accessing that support for your child.

If you feel your child is not making progress

H&F SEND Information and Advice Support Service (SENDIASS) 

SENDIASS can offer impartial advice on your situation. They support you in getting your views across.

Find out more about SENDIASS

Education, Health and Care plan (EHC) plan

For those that have tried many different support options and adjustments but still need more help, the next step could be to apply for an Education, Health and Care  (EHC) plans

Consider asking for an Education, Health and Care (EHC) needs assessment, if your child:

  • has high support needs 
  • has a life-long disability
  • is receiving support from a wide range of services
  • is not making progress even though the support is increasing in type and amount

Translate this website