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My child has a disability - first steps

You may meet a number of health professionals if your child has been diagnosed with a disability.

The first person you are likely to meet is the Paediatrician.

Paediatrics is the branch of medicine that deals with the medical care of infants and children.  A doctor who specialises in this area is known as a paediatrician.

A paediatrican working in a hospital setting usually diagnoses and treats children with acute and/or chronic medical illnesses.  Paediatricians working in the community (Community Paediatricians) have expertise in the assessment of children's development and developmental deviations, the medical management of chronic disability conditions including learning disability, educational medicine and child protection (or safeguarding).

Community Paediatricians work in conjunction with multi-agency and multi-disciplinary teams which might include Physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists, Speech and Language Therapists, Educational Psychologists, Social Workers, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Team, Portage Workers, Specialist Teachers, Specialist Health Visitors, Health Visitors and Specialist Play Groups such as Stepping Stones.  They also work closely with other medical specialists (Hospital Paediatricians, Ophthalmologists, ENT Surgeons, and Orthopaedic Surgeons etc).  All of these professionals may need to complete an assessment at different stages of your child's development.

The assessments used by Community Paediatricians will depend on a child's specific difficulties, but most pre-school children are assessed using the Ruth Griffiths Developmental assessments.  For children where Autism is suspected, the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) will form part of the assessment process.

What is a Ruth Griffiths Assessment?

This developmental assessment tool is used by Paediatricians to assess the child's development across all areas - Locomotor, Personal Social, Hearing and Language, Eye Hand Coordination and Performance.  Depending on the results, the Paediatrician may refer the child to other services (Stepping Stones Children's Centre, Speech Therapy, Physiotherapy, etc) to support him/her to reach his/her full potential.

Child Disability Health Visitor

The Child Disability Health Visitor has experience and training in helping children with a medical condition and/or disability. 

Social Services

Paediatricians may refer to Social Services or you can ask for help yourself.

It may be that you will be eligible for the help of a social worker for your child.

The first step is to contact:

Children's Central Advice, Referral and Assessment Team

Depending on your child's needs they may refer to the Child Disability Team.


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