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 email@example.com
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 https://www.rcslt.org/learning/mind-your-words/ to find out more.
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.
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.
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:
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: https://radld.org/dld-awareness-day/resources-media-ideas/teacher-kit/
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:
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.
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.
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:
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:
Soiling can occur for many reasons, the most common of which include:
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:
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.
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 https://howtosleep.co.uk/guides/the-complete-guide-to-insomnia.
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.
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:
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.
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).
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 EPS@wakefield.gov.uk 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.
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.
Last reviewed: 01/06/2022