In the early days when your child is being assessed or has a new diagnosis there can seem a lot of professionals involved in your child’s care.
As your child grows the amount of professionals tends to get less. This can be a big relief and lets you ‘get on’ with family life, but it can feel harder to know how to get the help when you need it.
There are local services to help your child and family. You do not have to feel alone. At the Norfolk Healthy Child Programme we offer support to families during pregnancy, throughout childhood and until your son or daughter reaches 19 years old.
The Norfolk Healthy Child Programme stays in closer contact with families with a child with additional needs. We will be in touch at least once a year to check how things are going. We call you by phone or offer a video appointment. If needed, we can book a face to face contact and we can come up with a plan of care together.
Remember you can call Just One Number to talk to a health professional about any concerns at any time. There is lots of information about the health and development of children on Just One Norfolk for all parents. You will also find some extra resources for parents of children and young people with additional needs.
We also work closely with other providers. The Norfolk Local Offer is a directory of all services available in Norfolk for children and young people from 0-25 years with special educational needs and / or disability.
Health services and Norfolk County Council work together to support your child. When it is known that a child has, or is likely to have, a special educational need or disability, a health professional can complete a form with you so that Norfolk County Council know that your child may need extra support once they start school.
This is an important first step in making sure your child gets the right support for them.
Choosing The Right Setting or School
This is a big decision. When your child has an additional need or disability it is important to feel confident the setting will meet their needs. All nurseries and schools have a responsibility to do their best to meet the needs of children with SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disability).
You will need to feel sure that;
Give yourself time to have a look around a few nurseries / schools so that you can think about which ones feel right for your child.
Once you have chosen the setting you think best suits your child, communication between home and school is important. Your child will probably be allocated a key worker. They will be able to really get to know your child. Let them know your child’s needs;
You are the expert on your child and hold a lot of information that can help them have a smooth and happy start at nursery or school. Settings will be pleased to learn from you. Sharing this knowledge with school helps them support your child from day one.
You may feel worried that your child will be more at risk of bullying because of their additional need or disability. Although bullies can focus on people they see as ‘different’ in some way, there is often not an obvious reason for why they pick on someone. There are different ways that people bully, but it is the bully who has the problem not their victim.
If you have concerns that your child is being bullied let school know as soon as you can and ask them how they will address the problem.
Puberty is when your body changes from being a child to a young adult. It usually starts earlier in girls than boys. In girls it can start as young as eight (but usually later), and continue until 15 or 16 years of age.
The changes happen because the body produces chemicals called sex hormones. For all young people this can be a confusing time. Children with additional needs might find it more so.
It is important to try and prepare young people for the changes. The physical and emotional effects of puberty can be more worrying if they do not know what to expect.
If you think the physical and emotional changes are going to be especially challenging for your child, discuss it with school and / or health professionals involved in their care.
Friendships are an important part of life. Young people thrive when they have the opportunity to socialise and build relationships with their peers. During adolescence it is normal for young people to experiment with ‘romantic’ relationships.
This is an important part of your child’s transition to young adulthood. It is a special time but it can come as a shock to parents as they realise their ‘baby’ is growing up.
If your child has additional needs or disabilities you may have worried that this would not happen for them – it is a lovely thing to see them experiencing ‘first love’. You may also have some extra worries about this new stage and you might worry about your child being able to keep themselves safe. You might have concerns that others could take advantage of them.
If your child has additional needs your knowledge of them, how they understand things and how they behave is a very important part of keeping them safe. Talking to them about their thoughts, feelings and consent will help them understand how to keep themselves safe.
If you feel worried about your child’s ability to be safe in relationships you can talk to their school for support and advice. You can also call Just One Number to talk to a health professional.
You can contact the Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520 631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.
If your child attends school or an early years setting, talk to them about any concerns you may have, they can reassure you and / or help you find the right help.
Qwell provides free, safe and anonymous mental wellbeing support for adults in Norfolk and Waveney from a professional team of qualified counsellors.
If you are 11-19 you can text Chathealth on 07480 635060 for confidential advice from one of our team.
For 11–25 year olds Kooth is a free, confidential and safe way to receive online counselling, advice and emotional well-being support.
To speak to other Norfolk parents and carers, you can join our online community forum below.