All children are individual and will develop at different rates. However, to get a general idea ‘milestones’ are used to help track your child’s development and to give an indication as to whether they are progressing at a ‘typical’ rate.
This page contains responses to the most commonly asked questions in relation to child development as well as useful links to information and services.
As a general rule, if you are worried about your child's development, your GP, Health Visitor or child's education setting will be best placed to offer you advice and support.
Is my child developing at the expected rate?
View the interactive guide to child development from birth to five years old, including videos and advice to help parents along the way.
The information here will give you an indication as to whether your child is developing at the expected rate: www.nhs.uk/Tools/Pages/birthtofive
Who can I talk to if I am concerned about my child’s development?
My child is under 5yrs old
Speak to your Health Visitor or GP (Doctor). They may share your concerns and make a referral to a child specialist i.e. a community paediatrician for further investigation.
If your child is in an education setting you should speak to their key person or the SENCO (Special Educational Needs Coordinator). They may share your concerns and suggest that you request a referral from your GP to a specialist or decide to monitor progress more closely.
My child is over 5yrs old
Speak to your child or young person’s class teacher or SENCO (Special Educational Needs Coordinator). They may share your concerns and recommend that you speak to your GP about a referral to a specialist for further investigation.
You should ask about the additional support that the education setting can put in place to support your child’s development. Further information about the support that schools must put in place for pupils with SEND can be found on our Education Offer.
Who can I talk to if I feel my concerns are not being listened to?
If your school is not concerned about your child but you still are, you might want to contact the Royal Greenwich Special Educational Needs Information, Advice and Support Service SENDIASS – this service offers free confidential and impartial advice and support to Royal Greenwich parents and carers who have children and young people (up to the age of 25) with SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disability).
You can call SENDIASS on 020 8921 8042.
Receiving a diagnosis
Finding out that your child has a special educational need or disability can be a confusing and emotional time for parents. While some may receive a specific diagnosis, others may be told their child has an additional need or global developmental delay. In some cases you may never receive a specific diagnosis at all.
As well as dealing with your own emotions and concerns for the future, you may also need to offer support and advice to other family members such as partners, children and grandparents. You will come into contact with a number of different professionals during this time, and at some stage will want to find out more about your child's difficulties.
One of the biggest challenges is coming to terms with the fact your child's future will be different from the way you imagined it. Getting in touch with national and local organisations, support groups and other families can help you to deal with a diagnosis, and can be a valuable source of support and advice. It is also important to remember that, with time, your emotions will become easier to manage – many parents report that after a diagnosis they discovered qualities of strength, determination and positivity that they didn't even know they had.
Support after receiving a diagnosis
During this time, parents will need time to talk about their feelings and any decisions they are going to make. Close family and friends can be a good emotional support, although talking to a GP, health worker or counsellor may be easier for some people at this stage.
During and after a diagnosis you may come into contact with a number of different health care workers, including GPs, obstetricians, paediatricians, occupational therapists, health visitors and portage workers.
Services within the SEND Outreach Service, Clinical Psychologists and Child Psychotherapists are specifically designed or trained to provide support to parents after receiving a diagnosis.
You’re likely to feel overwhelmed with information, whilst trying to manage your emotions. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, for professionals to repeat themselves or to explain things more clearly.
If you’d like to talk to someone who has first-hand experience of a child/young person with SEND you can contact Greenwich Parent Voice who can offer both emotional and practical support for parent carer - firstname.lastname@example.org.
For information, Advice and Support on any element of your child/young person’s SEND you can contact Royal Greenwich SENDIASS (Special Educational Needs and Disability Information, Advice and Support Service) by calling 020 8921 8402.
These NHS pages contain useful information on receiving a diagnosis:
What is a learning disability?
Children with a learning disability - Coping with diagnosis
Profound intellectual and multiple disabilities