Health services for children and young people with SEN or disabilities provide early identification, assessment and diagnosis, intervention and review for children and young people with long-term conditions and disabilities. Services are delivered by health professionals such as occupational therapists, speech and language specialists, physiotherapists and psychologists. In addition, public health services for children ensure a whole population approach to health and wellbeing including preventative services such as immunisation for the whole population and targeted immunisation for the most vulnerable.
Health services support early identification of young children who may have SEN, though special neonatal screening programmes, and specialist health and developmental assessment where concerns have been raised. Community paediatricians in conjunction with other health professionals, particularly therapists, are often the first people to notify young children with SEN to local authorities. They provide diagnostic services and health reports for EHC needs assessments.
Health professionals advise education services on managing health conditions such as epilepsy and diabetes, and health technologies such as tube feeding, tracheostomy care and ventilation in schools. They are able to provide an on-going overview of health and well-being. They seek advice from paediatric specialists when necessary and facilitate training for educational staff.
Therapists have important and specific roles in supporting children and young people with SEN or disabilities, working directly with children and young people, advising and training education staff and setting programmes for implementation at home and in school.