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Children's disability services

Children's disability services are for children and young people up to 18 years who have complex needs.

If your child has less complex needs they may access services from your local primary care service.

For example, if they have a speech delay your local speech and language therapist can help.

But sometimes your child may need to see a children’s disability network team (CDNT).

What is a children's disability network team?

A children’s disability network team (CDNT) provides specialised support and services for children who have a disability and complex health needs associated with their disability.

The CDNT supports a child’s development, wellbeing and participation in family and community life. This works best when everyone works together as a team around your child.

The team members share their knowledge, information and skills with you and your family so you can support your child’s development.

This helps children and young people to develop, learn, and take part in everyday activities. Team members can meet children and families in their home, in school or in our office.


Referrals to the CDNT

CDNT members

This CDNT includes health and social care professionals. They provide services for children with disabilities. Each team member specialises in different areas of child development. They work together to support children with complex needs.

Who your child sees and how often they see them will depend on your child's needs. The team will discuss this with you.

Their aim is to support your child to thrive, grow, and learn.

They will also help your family to learn how to best support your child.

CDNTs have:

Some teams also have access to:

  • dietitians
  • family support workers
  • nurses
  • social care workers

How CDNTs work

CDNT members may work with your child together or separately depending on your child’s needs and the priorities agreed with you. This approach to team working is in line with evidence from international best practice.

This may include:

  • individual or group therapy
  • parent training on topics relevant to your child
  • support for a child’s full participation in pre-school and school
  • advice on financial entitlements, housing and transport

Individual Family Support Plan

Your family and the team will agree on a plan for your child. This is called an Individual Family Support Plan. It is based on your family's needs.

Together you will:

  1. talk about the issues in your family
  2. talk about how to goals that could address these issues
  3. talk about how you will achieve these goals - what to do, how to do it, and who will do it

Types of support available

Your family can work together with the CDNT team as equal partners.

The team can do this through:

  • information sessions, talks and workshops
  • group work
  • one-to-one therapy
  • an Individual Family Support Plan

They match the best type of support with your child’s needs and the goals you have agreed.

The team may need to try a few different approaches to get the best results.

Information sessions, talks and workshops

Information sessions, talks and workshops for families can cover topics like:

  • how to help your child sleep through the night 
  • toilet training for children who have extra needs
  • supporting your child to develop their language and communication
  • how to prepare your child for the move from primary to secondary school
  • how to help your child play with other children and develop friendships

Group work

Group work is for children who have similar needs. Bringing children together in groups is more fun for them and they can learn from each other.

It also brings together parents who have common challenges. This gives you a chance to meet other parents, and share your ideas and experiences.

Examples of group work include:

One-to-one therapy

These are interventions that address your child’s individual needs. Your child may have difficulties with movement, communicating, feeding, eating, drinking, or swallowing.

Difficulties with movement 

If your child has difficulties with their movement or posture, they will meet a physiotherapist or an occupational therapist.

Your family and the therapists will agree on a plan. This could include treatment or equipment.

Some children may need a specialised service. This could include a review by an orthopaedic doctor. This is a doctor who specialises in muscles, bones and joints.

Difficulties with feeding, eating, drinking and swallowing

There may be many reasons why this is an issue for your child. A full assessment may include help from several healthcare professionals. 

You may need to bring your own food and drink from home so the team can see what your child eats and drinks.

Translated children's disability network information

We have leaflets on children's disability services. It is available in 8 languages.

Page last reviewed: 16 September 2022
Next review due: 16 September 2025