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Cheyne Child Development: while you wait leaflet - Pre-School Age (Hammersmith and Fulham children)

This information has been developed for parents and carers of children awaiting an multidisciplinary social communication assessment.

We have put together some information for you to support your child’s development while you wait.

There are many things that parents and carers can be doing to help support their child’s development and many resources available for children and their families.

Why your child has been accepted for a multidisciplinary social communication assessment

  • Parents may asked for the referral following concerns of their child’s development including some questioning if their child`s has autism
  • Communication: Some children are referred because they have difficulties with their speech and language or other aspects of their communication. For example, they may be delayed in learning to speak, or may not use non-verbal gestures.
  • Social Interaction: Children are often referred because of difficulties interacting with others. They may find it difficult to make friends or engage in social conversations, they may misunderstand social cues, or may appear uncomfortable, awkward or anxious in social situations.
  • Other behaviours: Children may be referred because they show certain behaviours or interests. They may flap their hands, have unusual interests, or want to follow certain routines. Others have sensory difficulties and are over-sensitive to sounds, smells or textures.
  • Concerns by professionals including speech therapists, health visitors, nursery and school staff –of your child’s delayed development and or related difficulties – sometimes questioning if these might be explained by a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder

Expected outcomes of assessment 

  • Getting a diagnosis for a child can be helpful, as it enables parents, as well as others, to understand and support your child better. 
  • Documentation from your child’s assessment should include explanation of  your child’s individual strengths and difficulties
  • The assessment will aim to advice on the support your child might need to help them achieve their maximum potential
  • Possible outcome of assessment might include a diagnosis of, Autism spectrum disorder ( ASD), developmental delay or a specific language difficulty
  • You may find it helpful to read about autism spectrum disorder or other difficulties that your child is experiencing (see information section below).

Signs of autism in children

NHS website: Click here

What is autism

National autistic society: Click here

Developmental language disorder

Developmental Language Disorder ( Click here

What you can do whilst waiting for assessment

  • Access a nursery or school place for your child
  • Access support from speech and language therapy  assessment – please see additional information under communication websites towards the end of this document  
  • Encouraging you child’s play skills under the section on SEND/Health/Speech and Language therapy. You can also look at the website: which has lots of ideas/activities to support play and communication
  • Accessing support for your child’s individual needs, including behaviour, sleep, feeding, and toileting, advice. We have included some advice in this booklet and would suggest for you to look at this before discussing any further support with the team at your child’s assessment.
  • Before your child’s assessment you will be offered contact from the specialist nursing team, if you need to contact them beforehand then please email or call 0203 315 6470
  • You can access support from your local Early intervention social care team, Cheyne specialist nurses can help with this:  or call 0203 315 6470

Benefits of nursery or school before assessment 

  • Accessing nursery placement will help provide your child with additional play opportunities including access to indoor and outdoor activities
  • Nursery provides a routine and structure to your child’s day. This routine should help your child feel more confident and secure, in control of their feelings and is great preparation for school readiness
  • Attending nursery provides ongoing  evidence of your child’s  strengths, progress, and challenges in areas they may need support with.
  • Nursery will help with your child’ social communication assessment –including additional reports on their progress and interaction with children of similar age.

Accessing nursery or school placements

  • 2 year old offer: Some children will qualify for 15 hours free nursery placement. For further information: see local SEND offer for list of available nurseries; you can also contact your Health visitor for support with this or the Cheyne specialist nursing team 
  • 3-4 year old offer: All parents/carers with a child aged 3-4 years are entitled to receive 15 hours; see local SEND offer for list of available nurseries
  • School placement: Mainstream and specialist – you will need to apply to your local education department by the 15th January to access placement for the following September; see local SEND offer for list of available schools

Additional support in nursery and school

If you are concerned about your child’s progress at nursery or school, speak to their nursery key worker, or class teacher or the school/ nursery Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENDCO). You might want to ask them the following questions: 

  • What progress is your child making?
  • What support is being put in place for your child?
  • How will your child’s progress be monitored/what are their targets?
  • What will be done if your child does not make progress?
  • They may also be able to advise you on what approaches they have found useful at nursery or school, which you can try at home.
  • If for some reason you or your child’s nursery or school , feels your child might need additional support to access education then you can access further information from the SEND local offer or Cheyne specialist nurse team,

Support with behaviour

If you are struggling with your child’s behaviour or other specific issues: Speak to your Health visitor or contact the Cheyne specialist nursing team . We would advise for:

Sleep advice 

We understand how difficult life can be when your child has a sleep issue and how there are many factors which can be can affect children’s sleep  We would advise you to access advice  sleep guidance  whilst you are waiting for assessment. Further support can be discussed at your child’s assessment.

Please see the following links:

Support with feeding concerns 

  • If you have concerns for your child’s growth we would advice for you to access support from your child’s health visitor for weight and height measurement and discussion of further support as required
  • If you have concerns your child is a very fussy eater and their diet is often restricted to certain foods, then you can access advice from the infant and toddler forum – with further support discussed at your child’s assessment:

Toileting advice

  • Toileting- we would advice you to access advice from the following Eric – website – with further support discussed at you child’s assessment
  • If your child is aged 4 plus and not yet fully toilet trained, contact your child’s Health visitor or specialist Cheyne specialist nurse, –you should be eligible for support with free nappies until your child is successfully toilet trained

SEND local offer 

Each local council has a  SEND Offer  for children with disabilities and complex health needs .The local offer aims to bring together useful information across education, health and social care within one website.

Look on your council’s Local SEND Offer website to find out what other support or services are available locally. Many services are inclusive and do not require a diagnosis to be able to access them. 

Local Services: Hammersmith and Fulham 

For more info search “SEND Local Offer Hammersmith and Fulham” in your internet search engine:

Stephen Wiltshire Centre

The Stephen Wiltshire Centre is a purpose-built specialist centre for children with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) and their families, who live in Hammersmith & Fulham. Your child doesn’t need a diagnosis to access support.

They operate a duty phone line between the hours of 9am - 4pm, Monday to Friday. The duty line is available for enquiries of accessing support including general support and signposting, to stay and  play groups, nursery  and school  and short term support from individual integrated key support workers.

To contact the duty line, please call 0208 753 4443 or contact the Cheyne nursing team  or 0203 315 6470

Parents Active

Is a local parent led organisation supporting parents of children and young people with disability. This includes a support network for parents to gain and share information. Parents are kept informed through coffee mornings, events, website, training, workshops and newsletters.

Communication websites 

Helpful Organisations

National Autistic Society (NAS)


ERIC is the children’s bowel and bladder charity and offers advice, parent workshops and a helpline to support toileting in children.

  • T: 0808 169 9949

Contact a family

They offer practical information and resources about support for families who have a child with a disability

Ambitious about Autism

The national charity for children and young people with autism. Their parent hub provides practical information and resources about ASD. They also have an online community for adults with autism, parents and professionals.

The Challenging Behaviour Foundation

A charity for people with severe learning disabilities and challenging behaviour. They offer information about challenging behaviour both online and over the phone. 

Accessing support for yourself 

We appreciate that waiting for your child’s assessment can be a stressful time. It is very important that you try to seek support from friends and family whilst waiting for your child’s assessment

If you are more isolated and do not have a supportive social network, there are other services available that can provide support.

You might benefit from accessing a parent carer forum group- they offer regular meetings and individual support:

  • Parents Active: 0208 748 5168
If you are really struggling to manage your feelings or feeling very low, it is important that you speak to your GP, or your child’s Health visitor, about how you are feeling. They may be able to refer you to counselling services.

Any further questions?

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any further questions or concerns.

For questions about your appointment or waiting time, contact the social communication appointments coordinator on 0203 315 3121.

For questions about the assessment, and resources whilst you wait email the specialist community nursing team

Preparing for the assessment 

  • We understand that bringing a child for an assessment can be an anxious time for parents. We recommend that both parents attend the assessment where possible. If this is not possible, you are very welcome to bring a friend or relative to support you. 
  • We might send pre assessment questionnaires to completed by parents or carers  – normally questions about their health and development history, so that you and the team are better prepared.
  • The assessment involves detailed interviews with you as the child’s parent or carer, concentrating on the child’s early development , current behaviour and direct play assessment with your child, as well as collecting information from nursery or school
  • We will ask for a nursery or school functioning questionnaire to be completed shortly before or after the assessment especially of their interaction with children of similar age.
  • It is helpful for you to bring your Child’s Red book (child health records) so that we can see information on their growth and immunisation history. 
  • We advise for you to bring a drink and snack for your child as some appointments will be 1-2 hours; a favourite toy might also be helpful
  • Another common question asked by parents is how to prepare their child. This will vary depending on the age of your child- however for young children the assessment is very much play based so hopefully they will enjoy their experience.

Contact details 

Cheyne Address

Chelsea and Westminster Hospital (main location)

The Cheyne Child Development Service

Doughty House

369 Fulham Road

London, SW10 9NH

T: 0203 315 6488

Parkview Centre for Health & Wellbeing

The Cheyne Child Development Service

Cranston Court

56 Bloemfontein Road

White City, London W12 7FG

T: 0203 704 6060


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