Syndromes without a name

SWAN UK (Syndromes without a name) is a project run by Genetic Alliance UK, offering support and information to families of children with undiagnosed conditions. Join the SWAN UK community.

Seek support

Make sure you have supportive people around you who you can really talk to. It's sad, but a lot of your close friends just might not get it.

Re-visit the geneticist

If your child hasn't been seen by their geneticist for a few years, get in touch and ask to be seen again. There may be new developments, new tests that weren't available before.

Don't miss out on the good stuff

Although we all know why a diagnosis is important, try not to let it take over your life and don't miss out on them growing up.

Get a GP's letter

Ask your doctor to explain your child's needs to the school. Get your GP to write you a letter you can use to show your child still has needs, even if they don't have a diagnosis.

Get a letter

I hate the bit on forms that asks about diagnosis. You end up writing 'undiagnosed condition' and they think you're making it up. Having a letter from your consultant that explains what this means can be really helpful to include with the form.

Get it in writing

My GP was living in the dark ages, and kept saying he wouldn't refer me to genetics because it couldn't be genetic, as only one child had problems! I asked him to put in writing why he wouldn't refer me and he changed his mind :-)

Be wary of internet info

Be cautious of information on the internet. There is lots of stuff out there that isn't true. Also remember that, just because something you read may sound similar to your child, it doesn't mean they will be the same.

Video evidence

My child never 'performs' for the doctors, so I'm sure for years they didn't believe me when I told them about his odd movements. Make sure you video as much as possible so you can show doctors rather than trying to explain.

Keeping track

It can be a nightmare trying to keep track of all the different tests that are done. Have one notebook you always take to appointments and each time they do a new test, get them to write it down in the book for you. Make sure you keep copies.

Trust your instincts

You know your child best, and despite all the times people say, "just give them a little more time," trust your instincts and push for tests and referrals.

Get a second opinion

Don't be afraid to ask for a second opinion and, if the professional is offended and refuses, go to your GP. They can refer you out of area.

Describe your child's needs

When asked to describe your child's special needs do just that. You don't need to say 'undiagnosed' as a diagnosis is only a cause of the issues, not a description.

Never give up

Never give up hope, as there are so many new developments. Our son was diagnosed at age 13. I used to email the geneticist every few years. One time she said she'd send his bloods off, and I didn't expect any answers to come of it, but but they did. He has a rare chromosome disorder.

Share your tips and feedback

We'd love to hear your tips, practical suggestions and feedback.
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Using these tips

These tips have been contributed by members of our online community. We hope they will give you some ideas to try, but if you need further help why not post a question to the community or talk to one of our community advisors. If you have any concerns about your health or the wellbeing of someone you are caring for, please consult a doctor or qualified professional.