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Support for a child without a diagnosis

Without a diagnosis, your child could still be eligible for:

  • Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
  • Special Educational Needs (SEN), at school or before they go

You and your child could be eligible for extra support from your local authority after you get a:

  • needs assessment for your child
  • carer's assessment for you

Contact your local authority (GOV.UK)

Claiming DLA for a child without a diagnosis

Your child does not need a diagnosis to claim Disability Living Allowance (DLA).

Your child could be eligible if they need more support than a non-disabled child of the same age. Your child can be any age, but it can be easier if your child is 3 or older. This is because all children under 3 years old usually need a lot of support.

To be eligible, your child must need support with either:

  • personal care and support
  • going outdoors and unfamiliar places

Eligible personal care means at least 1 hour extra spent supporting them:

  • getting dressed
  • going to the toilet
  • managing their distress or anxiety
  • to sleep or settle at night or if they do not sleep

Your child could also be eligible if any of the following apply. Your child:

  • feels distressed going into busy places, like shops
  • is not cautious around strangers
  • does not understand that things can be dangerous for example, cars or grabbing hot drinks

How to claim DLA (Citizens Advice)

SEN support

Your child does not need a diagnosis to get SEN support either:

  • before they go to school
  • or at school

SEN support before your child goes to school

Speak to your local authority for guidance on Special Educational Needs (SEN) support services and special education schools. Some areas provide home visits (sometimes called portage) for preschool children with Special Educational Needs.

Portage in your region (National Portage Association)

SEN support at school

If your child is at school, ask the SEN co-ordinator (SENCO) about the school’s SEN policy and what support your child can get. Schools must make reasonable adjustments for your child.

Talking to your child’s school

If SEN support is not enough

If your child has a SEN plan and they need more support, an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan can help. People also call this an EHCP.

You do not need a diagnosis or your school to support you, but both of these things can make it easier.

Education, health and care (EHC) plans

Support from your local authority

Your child could be eligible under the Children Act 1989 if they are under 18, and either:

  • cannot meet a reasonable standard of health or development without local authority support
  • are disabled, which includes a paediatrician or doctor identifying your child’s needs without a diagnosis

Getting a needs assessment for your child

Contact your local authority to ask for a needs assessment for your child.

The assessment should consider what’s needed to make daily life easier. You do not need a diagnosis to have an assessment or get support.

Your local authority will recommend services and support that your child needs. You can ask for a review if something’s missing, such as a bathing aid.

How a local authority care needs assessment works (MoneyHelper)

If you’re not sure who to contact:

  • call general enquiries
  • ask for needs assessments for children

A member of the team will talk to you face to face or on the phone to assess your child’s and family’s needs.

Contact your local authority (GOV.UK)

Support for parents

Ask for a carer’s assessment as well as a needs assessment for your child.

Carer’s assessments (NHS.UK)

Respite care, also called short breaks, is temporary care that lets you take a break from looking after your child.

Finding respite care

If your child is away from home

In England, your local authority may provide extra services if your child is away from home for at least 3 months in places such as a:

  • hospital
  • care home
  • residential school

These extra services may include:

  • advice, guidance, counselling
  • family visits to the place of care
  • visits home
  • help to organise a holiday for family members to be together

Local Offer

The services provided by local authorities are called a Local Offer. These must:

  • cover education, health and social care services
  • be on your local authority’s website

Contact your local authority (GOV.UK)

Services vary but may include:

  • daycare facilities for preschool children
  • holiday play schemes
  • financial help
  • care at home
  • advice, guidance and counselling
  • social, cultural or recreational activities
  • sport and leisure support
  • family centres
  • some home aids and minor adaptations, such as handrails
  • laundry facilities
  • transport help, such as a disabled parking spot or local transport services

    Apply for or renew a Blue Badge (GOV.UK)

    Parent support groups

    Some organisations and charities also have support services for parents of disabled children. These can include:

    • sleep services
    • support groups
    • mental health and wellbeing support
    • parent carer forums and online communities

    Parent carer forums can be helpful for finding information about services or reading similar experiences or questions. Facebook support groups or pages can also be a good source of information from other parents.

    Support groups for parents

    Visit our online community for support from advisers or other parents

    Therapies and medical support

    Talk to your paediatrician or doctor if your child needs therapies, such as speech therapy, occupational therapy or physiotherapy. They will be able to refer you for treatment.

    Physiotherapy

    Hydrotherapy

    Getting a diagnosis for your child

    How to find a speech and language therapist (Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists)

    Last reviewed by Scope on: 23/11/2021

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