Introduction to understanding your child's diagnosis
On this page is an overview of help and services open to parents. So, your child has been diagnosed. You didn't expect this to happen. It's ok to feel a whole range of emotions including:
All of the above are normal and natural feelings. Everyone is different and it can take some time to process. Some of you may have accepted this diagnosis and are ready to take things forward. This is where we can help and support you on your journey.
Contact are a charity for families with disabled children. They support families with the best possible guidance and information. They have produced a very useful booklet called The Helpful Guide for Families with Disabled Children. If you would prefer a hard copy of this guide, then you can order one from the Contact Website.
Diagnosis from birth
When a child’s disability or additional need is identified at birth (or even in the womb) the doctor or midwife will refer you to a specialist at the hospital who can help:
- you understand the implications
- inform you as to how the disability or additional need will affect the development of your child
- you best attend to their needs during early life
This is typical of conditions like Down’s syndrome.
Diagnosis at a later date
Other types of disability, special educational needs or medical conditions are not immediately obvious and are identified later in a child’s or young person’s life - for example a hearing or vision impairment or learning difficulty.
The first points of contact to understand your child's diagnosis of special educational needs or disability are your:
- child’s GP
- any specialist's services they have been referred to.
You will then receive ongoing support from the specialist services who will help you understand:
- how a disability or additional need will affect your child’s daily life
- what kinds of educational provision your child may need
- what local services are available to your child and you as a parent.
In some cases your child may be diagnosed with a rare condition and support may come from a national, rather than a local service.
Every child is unique. An individual child may have several diagnoses so you may need to visit more than one section below.
To enable you to research your child’s diagnosis further, it is recommended to fully understand any phrases, terms and abbreviations that have been given to you regarding your child’s diagnosis. Please see our Glossary of Terms for help with this.
More information on specific diagnoses