Disabled children and their families

Early years support

You should make sure you are comfortable with the educational setting for your child.

Specialist education can take place in a number of mainstream schools or there are special schools or units available for children with greater needs.

Pre-school support services

It can feel like you have a mountain to climb when trying to find out the best services to meet your child needs, and how you can access these. Thurrock already has great advice and information, however, all ready for you to use.

Child Development Centre

Thurrock has a Child Development Centre where assessments can take place. It is able to provide early intervention and offer diagnosis, as well as giving advice on the next steps to take, and which services to access.

You would normally access this service through a doctor, health visitor or paediatrician. There are many professionals available at the centre and they cater for all disabilities. They can explain the needs of your child and offer a clear pathway for your child to take, as well as putting you in touch with professionals who will continue to work with you.

All details are kept and they will talk with you about ideas before any decisions are made.


Portage is a home visiting service that allows professionals to visit the home of a child with additional needs. They can give practical help and advice to parent and carers, and are able to come out to any home whatever the child’s disability.

Lead professionals

Having so many people involved in your child’s care can be confusing and sometimes you may feel like you’re repeating yourself. Depending on your circumstances, you may choose to have a lead professional who can manage all the different types of support for you and your child.

They can perform many different roles and act as a single point of contact for your family and child. They can also help with decision-making and coordinate things that need doing.

Top tips

If there has been a diagnosis since birth then your midwife or health visitor will be able to refer you either to the Child Development Centre or a specialised nurse, who will be able to discuss the next steps.

If there wasn’t any diagnosis at birth but you notice your child may be showing signs of additional needs, make sure you see your doctor or health visitor. They will be able to run tests to find out whether your child has specific needs. You may be referred to the Child Development Centre or a specialised nurse.

You want what’s best for your child. Help is available locally, whatever the disability.