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Common Concerns


This section of the website is where you can find information about common concerns or issues that may affect your child.

It is reviewed on an ongoing basis and if you think there is an issue that should be included here, please let us know by clicking on the feedback button at the bottom of the page or sending us an email to 

My child has, or may have, a disability

My baby may have a disability

Being told there is a possibility that your growing baby may have a medical condition, disability or genetic disorder is very difficult news to hear and you will be wondering what happens next.


The National Childbirth Trust who support parents from pregnancy to their child’s second birthday, have put together some frequently asked questions as well as some useful resources that may help you.


For additional support from other parents and carers who understand what you may be feeling and concerns you may have, you can get in touch with Wakefield Parent Carer Forum. You can also search for more parent and carer support on this website.

My child has a disability

If you child is diagnosed with a disability, or is awaiting diagnosis, it can be difficult to see what the next steps may be and how to support your child as they grow older.

The Local Offer website has lots of information available about information, support and provisions available across the Wakefield district as well as some online and out of area information, where appropriate. We have a 'How To Use This Site' page to help you search for information. 

NHS Choices has also put together guidance about caring for a child with complex needs as well as some tips for caring for a disabled child.

For additional support from other parents and carers who understand what you may be feeling and concerns you may have, you can get in touch with Wakefield Parent Carer Forum. It’s important that as a parent or carer of a disabled child you also take time to look after yourself and Carer’s Wakefield and District have groups and courses available for you take part in to help with that.


If you have other children without a disability you can access to support from groups like Sibs. Sibs is a national charity supporting brothers and sisters of disabled children and has lots of information and support available for parents and cares as well as practitioners who work with them. They also have an online forum for adult siblings and website Young Sibs  aimed at children and young people aged 6 to 17 years.


If you have a particular concern about your child, you can click on each of the sections on this page using the tabs at the top of the page to find more information and useful links about them.

Contact have a list of A-Z of Medical Conditions . This has information on symptoms and possible treatments. It also includes details for support groups. You can also take a look at our information and advice for parents caring for a child with a rare condition.

Mental Health

Please be aware as a parent or carer the content of this may be upsetting or could bring up personal issues for yourself. Support is available for you via your GP or you can contact the Samaritans at any time by Freephone on 116 123.

Self-harm can be a hard subject to talk about but it’s important to understand a little more about what it is, what to look for, where you can find out more and get help and support.

Self-harm is something very individual but generally it is the act of deliberately causing harm to oneself either by causing a physical injury, by putting oneself in dangerous situations and/or self-neglect. This can include things like cutting, burning, pulling hair out, eating disorders and picking and scratching.

Reasons why people self-harm are also as individual and varied as the act itself and can include bullying, stress and low self-esteem. It is usually done as a way of coping and physically expressing feelings when a person struggles to communicate with others. Often the act of self-harm is very private and where this is done as a physical injury to oneself, people who do it will go to great lengths to hide it.

Some of the things to look out for include:

  • Unexplained burns, cuts, scars, or other clusters of markings
  • Arms, hands and forearms opposite the dominant hand are common areas for injury
  • Inappropriate dress for the season, eg. consistently wearing long sleeves on hot summer days
  • Constant use of wrist bands or similar coverings
  • Unwillingness to take part in PE, sports, swimming
  • Unusual or inexplicable paraphernalia (blades, other implements, inappropriate medication)
  • Heightened signs of anxiety and/or depression

If you do discover your child is self-harming it is common to feel anxious or worried, angry or blame yourself but there are a number of things you can do or avoid doing to help them.

Firstly, try to stay calm and open up the opportunity for them to talk about it if they want to. Making them talk about it or telling them you will take them to get help is not helpful. This is because it takes away their control about the situation which may make them withdraw from you.

Don’t tell them they just need to stop it or make them promise never to do it again. Offer ideas of distractions that they could do or you can do together like watching a film or going for a walk if they would like. There are more ideas for distractions and things to do to support your child on the National Self Harm Networks website.

Importantly, don’t take it personally or try to deal with more than you can without help. Dealing with this can be draining on a daily basis and it’s important to keep an eye on your own wellbeing too.

Finally, try to find out as much about self-harm as you can. The resources listed below include lots of information and guides to help you as well as details of where to go for more help. Although officially between 8 and 10% of teenagers will self-harm at some point, the reality may be much higher as it can be very private. By encouraging your child to not view it as something to be kept secret it will help improve understanding and help with getting support.

Useful links:

  • Selfharm UK – A creative site for young people to communicate with others using blogs, stories, poetry and art.
  • Head Above The Waves – Online advice, support and coping strategies for young people aged 11 – 25 years demonstrating harm to
  • Calm Harm App – FREE downloadable App for ages 13 and above with activities designed to help with the urge to selfharm. Activities are broken down into different groups: Comfort, Distract, Express Yourself, Release, Random and Breathe. The App can be used by younger children but they recommend this is done with guidance from a responsible adult.
  • The Mix – Support available for young people under 25 years old with telephone support available 4pm to 11pm, a 1-2-1 chat live messenger and a crisis messenger service available 24/7. The Freephone number is 0808 808 4994.
  • Young Minds – Website with lots of online resources available as well as a crisis messenger service available 24/7. Text YM to 85258 if urgent help is required. These are FREE from the following mobile phone providers EE, O2, Vodafone, 3, Virgin Mobile, BT Mobile, GiffGaff, Tesco Mobile and Telecom Plus. There is also a FREE Parent Helpline available Monday to Friday, 9:30am to 4pm. The Freephone number is 0808 802 5544.
  • Mindout – Online confidential and anonymous message service supporting LGBTQ young people. Availability of the online support each day is shown on their
  • Childline – Online and telephone support available for young people under the age of 19 years 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The Freephone number is 0800
  • National Self Harm Network (NSHN) – Wesbite with lots of information to support and help those who may self-harm. Includes FREE downloads, more helpful links and an online
  • CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) – Website with online chat and telephone support 365 days a year from 5pm to midnight. The telephone support is through Freephone number 0800 58 58 58. Aimed primarily at males aged 15 and above, they exist to help prevent male suicide.
  • Papyrus Hopeline – Helpline aimed at young people under the age of 35 years or anyone concerned about a young person experiencing thoughts of suicide. Available 9am to 10pm weekdays, 2pm to 10pm weekends and 2pm to 10pm bank holidays, the Freephone number is 0800 68 41 41. You can also text 07786 209 697 or email
  • The Mental Health Foundation have some great, FREE to download, booklets available covering topics like The truth about self-harm and Overcoming fear and
  • Time to Change have lots of tips about how you can support friends, family or colleagues who have a mental health concern as well as get support yourself. You can find out more here
  • Mind also have lots of advice available on their website to help you understand more about a particular mental health concern such as bipolar, depression or phobias and more. You can download their wide range of booklets FREE to download here
  • Turning Point can provide support for people aged 16+ with a mental health concern. You can find out more about Turning Point's talking therapies available in Wakefield, Castleford and online here
  • Richmond Fellowship are also available to support young people and adults from age 16 upwards. You can find out more about what they can offer here
  • Kooth, providing FREE and confidential support and advice to young people. The site offers online access to counselling as well as forums where they can chat with other young people about any problems or issues they are dealing with. You can access the site here
  • YoungMinds website has advice for parents and carers in their Parent Survival Guide or helpline to help with supporting your son or daughter. Young people can also access their services and online resources here
  • The Samaritans has advice on how to start a difficult conversation with someone you may be worried about which you can find out more about by clicking here Having a Difficult Conversation

The biggest concern people have about mental health is the stigma they may face if they are open about their mental health.

As 1 in 4 people have a mental health concern, we all know someone who has one. By having more open conversations we can help reduce the stigma and help people access the support they may need.

Useful documents:

Supporting Young People with Suicidal Thoughts

Mental Health Support for Young People aged 16 to 18 years


At the moment WESAIL do not have the capacity to assist families with filling in their Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal independence (PIP) claim or renewal forms.

In the Wakefield area, you can get help for completing these forms from DIAL.

You can also download helpful guides from the following:

WESAIL has also put together two helpful top tips facsheets which you can download below:

Top Tips for Filling in DLA Forms

Top Tips for Filling in PIP forms

Watch our webinar: Claiming DLA higher rate mobility for children with learning disabilities or autism

Almost 270 parents joined our Family Finance Team webinar looking at the rules which allow some children with autistic spectrum disorders or learning disabilities to qualify for the higher rate of the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) mobility component.

The webinar is now available to watch on Contact’s YouTube channel. And here, you can read some of the questions parents asked and our team’s answers.

You can also click here to download the PowerPoint presentation used during the webinar, which includes hyperlinks to some of the relevant DLA caselaw, or read our DLA higher rate mobility (HRM) factsheet.

Health & Development

As children develop they usually hit developmental milestones like taking their first steps, saying their first words or eating solid foods at about the same age. However, children are individuals so if they don’t reach a milestone when expected to, it doesn’t always mean there is a problem with their development.

Some children may struggle to complete some of the standard checks because of experiences they may have so far. For example, a child may not be able to successfully build a tower of blocks by a certain age if they haven’t done that so far as part of play or they may not recognise images of a birthday cake with candles if they haven’t seen one.

If you are concerned about your child’s development the first step is to talk to your GP, health visitor or nurse, if you have one. Tell that what it is that is concerning you and they will be able to offer you advice or may suggest your child be referred to a community paediatrician or a specialist depending on your concern.

You can find out more about health visitors and community paediatricians here

Each child born in England is issued with a Personal Child Health Record. This is currently a red book with different sections for development milestones, immunisations and height and weight details. Some sections will be completed by health professionals when they see your child and others are checklists for you to consider and respond to. Try to keep the book up to date and remember to take it with you when you see your GP or health visitor. This will help you to see if your child may be slow in their development as it is never too early to ask for help for your child.

You can find out more about Personal Child Health Records here 

Health Information Guides From Contact

Read about Dental Care and how to support a child with this.
Read about Hearing Care, how to spot signs of hearing problems and how to look after your child's hearing.
Read about Eye Care, eye tests and sight impairments. 

Livewell Wakefield also has ideas and resources to support healthy living.

Sensory Integration Education offers a free online course on Understanding Sensory Processing and Integration In Children. It is for parents and carers. It takes about 1 hour to do.

Speech, Language & Communication

If your child has difficulty making sounds and understanding simple words or they use limited words to communicate with you, compared to children of a similar age, and you are concerned they are falling behind, your GP or health visitor may refer you to other specialist services to find out what the issue may be.

A Speech and Language Therapist can help with developing your child’s communication skills and offer advice on what you may need to do. The Children's Speech and Language Therapy (SALT) Team offer drop in sessions around the district, if you would like to find out more without being referred initially. You can find details of dates, times and locations of the sessions they offer here

If your child is aged 0 – 4 years old the SALT team also run free Toddler Talk sessions around the district and you can find out full details of these sessions here

You can download a general leaflet about the service below.

Children's Speech and Language Therapy Service Leaflet - The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust

If you are concerned that the reason for an issue may be because of hearing problems, you may be referred to an audiologist who can investigate further and give you advice on hearing aids to improve your child’s hearing.

The Council for Disabled Children have made a guide to recognising and supporting disabled children's communication skills. It is for parents and carers but would also be useful for professionals.

Free Speech and Language training!

The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists have created free training. This is on understanding children who have both social emotional and mental health needs (SEMH) as well as Speech, Language and Communication Needs (SLCN). The training if for parents, carers and professionals.

It is called Mind Your Words. Visit to find out more.

Hearing impairment  support

If your child does have a hearing impairment there are lots of support and information pages available on the Local Offer. We have included some quick links to just some of these below but you can find more using the Search function on the website.

NCIUA – National Cochlear Implant Users Association

British Deaf Association (BDA)

The National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS)

Wakefield and District Society for Deaf People

Deaf Ex-Mainstreamers Group

Deaf Books 

DELTA – Deaf education through listening and talking 

BBC – See Hear 

Signed Stories

This short film was made by the DEX Deaf Youth Council to tell parents of deaf and hard of hearing children about their experience and how important it is to be bilingual in English and British Sign Language (BSL). They explain the advantages of being bilingual and how much it has helped them to learn, socialise and be proud to be deaf.

The Adult Education Service at the Council offer courses on a regular basis for adults to learn BSL and you BSL SignAbility   also offer courses locally.

Makaton is also another way for children and young people with speech and language difficulties to communicate and uses a mixture of signs and symbols to do that. You can find out more about Makaton by visiting The Makaton Charity who have lots of free resources and information as well as details of training courses available across the country.

For parents/carers, practitioners and people who work with children and young people who have speech and language difficulties, The Communication Trust also has lots of resources available to download and use. 

Other useful links include:

Early Communication


Developmental Language Disorder (DLD)

Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) is when a child doesn't gain or learn their own language. They may get diagnosed with DLD if there is no clear reason for this.

Children with DLD may find it difficult to understand others. They might struggle to say their ideas and how they are feeling.

DLD affects on average 2 children in every class of 30. Therefore, it is important for schools to be able to support the needs of these children.

Further details and support can be found at:

Social Communication

Feeding & Eating

If your child has problems when they eat, drink or swallow your health visitor can give you advice about what may help or refer you to specialist services depending on the age of the child and what the difficulty may be.

For children still breast or bottle feeding, your health visitor can provide help and advice about how to make changes, if needed, as well as advice about weaning your child onto solid foods.

For children under the age of five, your GP or health visitor may suggest that Portage, a pre-school home visiting service, becomes involved. They can help children with early communication and pre-school learning skills. To find out more about Portage offered by the council please click here. 

They may also suggest a nursey or play school/group with trained people to help your child develop their social skills. You can find out about the different Stay, Play and Learn groups across the Wakefield district here .

If you have concerns over whether what your child will eat meets their needs, your health visitor or GP can refer you to a dietitian. Dietitians are health professionals that will assess, diagnose and treat dietary and nutritional problems your child may have. They will be able to give you advice on food to help you make sure your child gets the nutrients they need to grow. They also work with you and your child for any specialist dietary needs because of a medical condition, for example coeliac disease. For more information about healthy eating for you whole family in general, including recipe ideas and 100 calorie snacks, you can visit the NHS Choice website here.

Reluctance or refusal to eat foods can be because a variety of reasons. They may be a selective or fussy eater or they could have a food phobia. A food phobia may begin if your child feels like eating a particular food will make them sick or because they worry they won’t be able to swallow it. It can also sometimes be because of wider anxiety issues. Other reasons affecting what your child may eat include:

  • Not liking the feeling of cutlery in their mouth. For example, metal knives and forks are more likely to be disliked.
  • Some children like to see the food presented on the plates in a certain order and don’t like their food being mashed together.
  • Seeing too much food on a plate can be overwhelming. It can be better to only offer a little food at first and add more if wanted.
  • Lots of noise or distractions (e.g. other family members or the television).
  • Particular smells (or strong smells) of food.

To help identify what may be the reason for your child’s problems at mealtimes, you can be referred to a clinical psychologist. The psychologist will be able to give you support and advice about ways to encourage your child to eat and provide advice on other issues that may be causing anxiety about food and eating.

If your child has difficulty with swallowing because of a physical problem, you can be referred to a Speech and Language Therapist. The Speech and Language Therapy (SALT) Team also offer drop in sessions around the district, if you would like to speak to them in general before being referred. You can find details of dates, times and locations of the sessions they offer here

Your child may also struggle to eat if they are having any issues with their teeth. They may find it hard to clean them, find visiting the dentist a very difficult experience or it may be related to their disability.

The Community Dental Service are trained to work with children, young people and adults with additional needs and you can find out more about them and accessing their service here. You can also find details about dentists near you and what services they can offer on the NHS Choices website here.

Food help

If you are struggling to buy food then contact your nearest Family Hub.

You can also visit

Is your child having trouble eating?

Seeing your disabled child struggling to eat or refusing food altogether can leave some parents feeling anxious and frustrated. There are many different reasons why a child might have trouble eating — and lots of advice on how to deal with their situation. Get the support and information you need in our website or by reading our Feeding & Eating parent guide here


If your child has problems with sitting up, walking, handling objects, or using certain parts of their body compared to other children the same age, your health visitor or GP may refer you to a physiotherapist or occupational therapist.

A physiotherapist will help your child with issues around their movement and will provide advice and support with any exercises or activities that would help as well. You can find out more about the Children’s Physiotherapy Team here .

An occupational therapist will be able to assess your child’s needs to see what help and equipment your child may need to help them with all their daily tasks. You can find out more about Children’s Occupational Therapy here.

There are lots of different services available on the Local Offer that can help with equipment for children with additional needs.  We have included some quick links to just some of these below but you can find more using the Search function on the website.


DEMAND Design and Manufacture for Disability 

Cracked-it Design 

Whizz Kids 

Read information on Developmental Coordination Disorder from the NHS. This can also be known as dyspraxia.


If your child is slow to develop their bladder or bowel control, your health visitor will be able to give you some advice and tips to help.

They may also refer you to community paediatrician to find out if there may be a medical reason for the problems with control or constipation.

Constipation can begin for a number of reasons:

  • Not enough fluids have been taken in during the day which can be as a result of illness or disability
  • Pain when trying to push a pooh out
  • Fear of sitting on the toilet
  • Not wanting a parent to be angry so the child tries to hold on to the pooh (called withholding or resisting)
  • Dislike of using school toilets
  • Not liking the smell of stools, so trying not to let them come out
  • A cold unpleasant toilet.
  • If a child is over encouraged to do a poo they can sometimes refuse to go and it becomes a battle

Another issue your child may have is soiling. Soiling is when a child passes stools in places other than the toilet at an age when they could be expected to use the toilet appropriately, e.g:

  • Stains in pants
  • Formed stools (pooh) in the pants
  • Stools in the wrong place (like behind a sofa, in a corner)
  • Play with or smearing stools
  • Watery stools coming out nearly all the time.

Soiling can occur for many reasons, the most common of which include:

  • Delay or difficulty in learning to use the toilet properly
  • An illness may have made them get out of the habit of regularly using the toilet
  • Constipation or a problem with the bowel (gastrointestinal problem)
  • Recent stresses or worries like such as bullying or bereavement
  • A history of bowel problems in the family
  • Soiling can be an expression of a child’s feelings of anger.

Soiling can be very distressing for both the child and the parents or carers but it is very common. When talking with health professionals, they will also sometimes refer to soiling as encopresis.

There are two types of encopresis:

  • Primary encopresis refers to children who soil from birth onwards, without achieving bowel control. This is something the community paediatrician will be able to help with.
  • Secondary encopresis is when a child has achieved bowel control, but begins to soil again later. This may be due to an emotional difficulty. This is something that a clinical psychologist would be able to help with.

You could also be referred to a clinical psychologist to give advice on how to encourage your child to use the toilet.

If your child suffers from incontinence, you can be referred to the Continence Service who can provide practical advice and help. If your child is over the age of three, a continence assessment may mean you can access free nappies or continence products. For more about the Continence Service click here.

ERIC, the UK’s Education and Resources for Improving Childhood Continence Charity, has lots of helpful resources and information available for toileting issues and toilet training and you can access their page here.

Bladder and Bowel UK also have support on continence issues for children, young people, parents and carers.

Learning & Attention

If your child has difficulty remembering information or responding to requests, your health visitor or GP may refer you to a number or different places based on what the issue may be an the age of your child.

For children under the age of five, your GP or health visitor may suggest that Portage, a pre-school home visiting service, becomes involved as they can help children with early communication and pre-school learning skills. To find out more about Portage offered by the council please click here . 

They may also suggest a nursey or play school/group with trained people to help your child develop their social skills. You can find out about the different Stay, Play and Learn groups across the Wakefield district here . 

At school, they may refer you to the Special Educational Needs Co-Ordinator who is the teacher at your child’s school responsible for co-ordinating extra support a child or children may need to help them. They may also refer you to an educational psychologist to observe your child and advise on what teaching and behavioural programmes could help your child. You can read more about the Education Psychology Service here


If your child has difficulty sleeping and takes a long time to fall asleep or wakes up often during the night, it can be exhausting as a parent or carer and for any other children in the household where they get disturbed.

Your health visitor will be able to suggest some things you could try to help with promoting a good sleep pattern and you can also download the Helping your Child Sleep Guide from Contact here.  If you would like a copy of the guide sending to you can get in touch with Contact directly here

Tired Out is Family Fund's sleep support hub is for both families and professionals, and aims to be a supportive network to share experience and learn from others. It includes information about support and available to families, useful sleep tips and a wide range of research, resources and stories from families themselves.

You can also visit 

You can also get tips and access to useful resources and training courses available for parents and carers as well as practitioners who work with families from The Children’s Sleep Charity .

Your GP may refer you to a community paediatrician or psychiatrist who can assess your child’s needs around sleep and make suggestions about possible treatment options or behaviour plans that would help improve their sleep patterns.

Moshi have created a guide to sleep training including common methods and frequently asked questions.
The Lullaby Trust have information on safer sleep and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). 


All children can show behavioural problems but for a child with additional needs it can often be as a result of a medical condition, an inability for them to be able to communicate what they want or need or because they are uncomfortable with what may be happening or what they are doing at the time.

Types of behaviour that you may experience can include:

  • aggression such as biting, hitting or punching
  • smearing when they go to the toilet, are in bed or when you are out and about
  • self-harming
  • sexually inappropriate behaviour
  • Contact has produced a guide for parents and carers called Understanding Your Child’s Behaviour which you can download here.  If you would like a copy of the guide sending to you can get in touch with Contact directly here


The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA) have created a guide on how to teach road safety skills to children and young people with additional needs.

Coming Soon!

WESAIL run FREE workshops for parents and carers of children and young people aged 0 to 18 years on a variety of topics. This information will be updated soon.

Please note WESAIL workshops are only available to people who pay council tax to Wakefield Council (or the child that they care for must live in the Wakefield Council district).

School refusal and avoidance

Wakefield EPS have developed a guidance document for schools/settings and practitioners regarding Emotionally Based School Avoidance (EBSA).

If anyone has any questions about the materials, please get in touch as follows: 

Professionals -please email or ring 01924 307403

If you are a Parent/carer viewing this page, please speak to your child's school/setting or get in contact with the professional who is supporting your family.

Young Carers

West Yorkshire Health Care Partnership have luanched a new young carers app. This is about wellbeing and support for young carers and has information on local services.

Young Carers App for Google

Young Carers App for Apple

Carers UK have developed digital resources for carers.

Last reviewed: 01/06/2022