Call our free helpline0808 808 3555
Call our free helpline
0808 808 3555
Your child might be referred to see health professionals or
services with more specialist knowledge. These are often referred
to as a secondary care, as you are usually referred to the service
having first been seen by another professional such as a GP, doctor
Secondary care includes hospital services, Child and Adolescent
Mental Health services (CAMHS) and child development centres.
If your child is referred to see someone and you are not sure
what their role is, do ask the person making the referral - or the
specialist when you first meet them. Here is a list of services
often accessed by disabled children.
CAMHS specialise in supporting the psychological and emotional
needs of children and young people. Find out more about CAMHS.
Child development teams are led by paediatricians working
closely with physiotherapists, occupational therapists and speech
and language therapists. They assess and review a child's needs and
devise treatment programmes to encourage and support their
development. They might also require input from psychologists,
either as part of the team or from child and adolescent mental
health service (CAMHS).
Community children's nurses support disabled children at home
and within community settings. This includes those who are
technology-dependant, such as children who need tube feeding and
gastrostomy care. They also play an important role in making sure a
child's health needs are supported safely in nursery or school.
The local continence services can see children if there are
problems with toilet training. Children can usually be provided
with free continence equipment once they reach a certain age -
usually around four years old. In some areas health visitors,
community nurses and/or learning disability nurses can also
prescribe continence equipment and give parents advice on toilet
NHS continuing care is support provided for children and young
people under 18 who need a tailored package of care due to their
complex health needs. Professionals working with a child or young
person should offer them an assessment if it seems they could have
continuing care needs. If you think your child should be assessed
for NHS continuing care, talk to a health or social care
professional who works with them.
They can arrange a holistic assessment, which may include other
services such as education and social services. The assessment
process is led by a nominated children and young people's health
assessor and reports may be obtained from services already involved
with your child. The assessment considers what daily support a
child might need with:
You should get a decision about your child's eligibility within
28 working days of them being referred.
If it's decided that the child or young person requires
'continuing care', then provision can be made by health, education
and social services.
If you would like more information,
please see the NHS Choices website.
A dietician can advise on food, diet and nutrition if a child is
reluctant to eat certain foods, or needs to be on a special diet,
or has difficulties chewing and/or swallowing.
Educational psychologists assess a child's learning and provide
advice to parents and education staff on appropriate interventions
to support learning and improve behaviour.
Learning disability teams work with children and adults who have
a learning disability and their families.
An occupational therapist pays particular attention to hand-eye
coordination, perception and manipulative skills. They can advise
and provide suitable aids to help with everyday activities such as
feeding, dressing, toileting, bathing and play for younger
children, plus writing skills for older children.
A paediatrician is a doctor who specialises in looking after
babies, children and young people. A paediatrician can coordinate
and liaise with other agencies involved in the management, care and
education of the child and family.
A physiotherapist helps in the management and development of
movement skills. There are a number of ways in which children can
be helped. These may include exercises to strengthen weak muscles
and games to improve coordination and motor skills.
Speech and language therapists can work with parents to develop
communication skills. If a child cannot talk they can help them
explore other ways to communicate, such as Makaton signing (a
language programme that uses signs and symbols to help people
communicate). They can also provide help where there are physical
issues with eating, drinking and safe swallowing.
Wheelchair and equipment services support the child in home and
at school. Wheelchairs for children will need regular reviewing to
monitor the child's growth and make sure it is providing good
We also support Northern Ireland and Scotland. Give our helpline
a call on 0808 808 3555 for information and advice on any aspect of
raising a disabled child, or call your local contact. Find out our
details in the Contact in your area section.