If you’re worried that your child may have a disability, talk to your GP or public health nurse (PHN) as soon as possible. They can talk to you about what will happen next.
Children who have mild or moderate difficulties may be referred to one or more health professionals in their local primary care services.
Children who have a range of significant difficulties may be referred to a Children’s Disability Network Team. This is a team of professionals with expertise in disability who work closely together.
A referral can be made by a healthcare professional. Or you can make the referral yourself.
To do this:
- Complete the Children’s Services Referral Form (PDF, 106 KB, 11 pages)
- Complete an Additional Information Form for your child
The Additional Information Form lets you describe your child and what your concerns are. It will help to refer them to the right service for them.
Complete the Additional Information Form for children aged:
- 0 to 12 months (PDF, 130 KB, 7 pages)
- 1 to 3 years old (PDF, 204 KB, 10 pages)
- 3 to 6 years old (PDF, 221 KB, 12 pages)
- 6 to 12 years old (PDF, 183 KB, 10 pages)
- 12 to 18 years old (PDF, 166 KB, 9 pages)
After a referral
When a referral is received, health and social care professionals will look at all the information you’ve provided. They use this to decide on the most appropriate service for your child.
The service will then contact you and let you know what will happen next. They will provide you with support as soon as possible, but you may have to wait for some services.
If you have to wait for services
Disability services may have a waiting list. How long you wait will vary, depending on the type of support your child needs and the demand for services in your area.
While you wait you can find help in other ways. For example, organisations dedicated to particular disabilities like Down Syndrome Ireland. They can provide information on disabilities and conditions, advice and emotional support.
Children who are having difficulties at school
If your child is having difficulties at school, for example (struggling to keep up, reading difficulties) speak to your child's teacher or the school principal. They can advise you on what to do next. This may include an educational assessment for your child.