First, here’s the legal bit.
Thanks to section 17 of the Children Act 1989 if your child is disabled or might be disabled he or she is legally entitled to an assessment of need.
This might mean assessing for specialist services, such as speech and language therapy, or equipment or respite care for parents or carers.
It does not cover education.
Now, here’s the practical bit.
Some hospitals and local authorities work well together and automatically offer you an assessment. If they don’t, you need to ask your social worker, if you have one, for an assessment.
If you don’t have a social worker, then contact your local authority’s disabled children team. You may request an assessment verbally, by letter or email.
There is no minimum age for assessment and you do not need a confirmed diagnosis.
On receiving your request your council has one day to reply. No reply is considered a ‘no’ to your request.
An initial assessment must be carried out within seven days. A more in-depth ‘core’ assessment must take place within 35 days.
If you are refused an assessment, send your council a copy of this letter, drafted by solicitors, which can be found at the Every Disabled Child Matters website at: http://councilfordisabledchildren.org.uk/help-resources/resources/letter-parents-who-have-been-refused-assessment
Once you have been assessed, the local authority team working with you will come up with a ‘care plan’. It will explain what needs your disabled child has and what services can be provided to meet those needs.