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Neurodevelopmental services

What is neurodiversity?

Some people think and act differently to other people because of the way their brain works. This is called neurodiversity.

Neurodiversity can affect someone's behaviour, memory or ability to learn.

Neurodiverse conditions include:

Being neurodiverse can mean your child or young person needs extra support and help from services.

Background reading

A parent group in Essex has produced an excellent guide on Supporting your neurodiverse child. It includes lots of useful general information. However, for specific information about Norfolk-based services and support please use this website.

Where to get support for your neurodiverse child

Healthy child programme

All children and young people develop in different ways and at different rates, but it's useful to know what to expect.

The healthy child programme team provide information and advice about child development on the Just One Norfolk website, including:

You can also contact the healthy child programme team for advice by phone or text.

Support from your child's place of learning

Your child does not need to have a clinical diagnosis to get special educational needs support.

If your child has difficulties with learning, their early years' keyworker or teacher will adapt teaching methods and materials to suit the child's style and rate of learning.

If there are still concerns, your child may have special educational needs (SEN) and SEN Support will be put in place.

Support from your child's GP

Talk to your child's GP about your concerns.

They can give you advice about your child's behaviour and development. They may decide to ask your local neurodevelopmental team to see your child. This is called making a referral.

It's a good idea to write some notes to help you explain what's causing your concerns.

Your notes might include things you've observed about their:

  • Behaviour and how they interact with other people
  • Communication and language skills
  • Ability to learn and understand new information

Support without a referral

Your GP may decide that the neurodevelopmental team do not need to see your child. They will explain the reasons for this decision and what you can do next. Find out where to get more advice and support. 

Private assessments

If you decide you would like your child to have a private assessment, there are important issues to consider first. Find out more about private neurodevelopmental assessments.

Referral for NHS assessment

If your GP decides that your child needs to be referred to a neurodevelopmental team, they will contact your local NHS team.

Supporting evidence

Your GP will need to tell the neurodevelopmental team about:

  • Your concerns about your child and what you’ve observed
  • Their observations of your child’s development and behaviour

Your GP will need information from your child’s place of learning. They might ask you to get this information or contact the school directly.


The neurodevelopmental team will review all of this information. The team will decide whether there is evidence that your child needs a neurodevelopmental assessment.

If the referral for assessment is accepted

If the neurodevelopmental team decides that your child needs an assessment, they will add your child to the waiting list.

Unfortunately, the waiting list is long. The neurodevelopmental team will put you in contact with Family Action, who can support you while you wait for the assessment.

While you're waiting, you can also:

If the referral for assessment is not accepted

The neurodevelopmental team might:

  • Need more evidence to decide if your child needs a neurodevelopmental assessment
  • Decide your child does not need a neurodevelopmental assessment

If the team needs more evidence, they will send a letter to you and your GP asking for more information.

If the team decides that your child does not need an assessment, they will send you a letter to tell you this. The letter will include information about other services that may be able to support your child.

Your child will still be able to get special educational needs support at their place of learning.

You might want to look at the support available from other organisations, talk to your GP or talk to the healthy child programme team.

What happens at a neurodevelopmental assessment


A member of the neurodevelopmental team will contact you to learn more about your child and their development. They will talk to you about your child and the information provided in your referral. They may ask you about:

  • Your child's birth
  • Your child's early developmental milestones
  • Childhood illnesses
  • Your health and experiences
  • Your home situation

Some of these questions might feel quite intrusive. The team will only ask you for information that will help them understand your child's health and development.

Your child's personal health record (red book) may help you answer some of the team's questions.

The team will review the information from this consultation and make a plan for your child's assessment. They will send you a letter to tell you about the assessment plan.

Assessment activities

Each neurodevelopmental assessment is different depending on the needs of the child or young person. The assessment may include:

  • Questionnaires for your family and your child's school to complete
  • A visit to your child's school, or a home visit if your child is under 6 years old
  • Specialist assessment by a speech therapist, occupational therapist, nurse or clinical psychologist
  • For younger children - a play-based assessment to assess their social communication skills
  • For older children - answering some questions, talking about things they like and don't like, and some games and puzzles

Each activity gives the professional a chance to observe your child in different situations and get to know them on a one-to-one basis.

The team might ask you to wait in the waiting room during some parts of the assessment. They will explain why they are asking you to do this.

After the assessment

The neurodevelopmental team will review the results of the assessment. They will decide whether your child should be diagnosed as neurodiverse. They may diagnose your child with more than one neurodiversity condition eg Autism and ADHD.

They will meet with you to explain their diagnosis and the support they can offer your child.

The support they offer you may include:

  • Advice and signposting to other services
  • Giving your child's place of learning advice about what they need to do to support your child
  • Specialist nursing
  • Psychological therapy
  • Speech and language therapy
  • Occupational therapy

Private neurodevelopmental assessments

Before getting a private assessment, instead of an NHS neurodevelopmental service assessment, you should consider the important points below.

If your report is not from an assessment with the NHS neurodevelopmental service:

  • A multi-disciplinary quality assurance (QA) process will be needed
  • Any report must meet the clinical standards set out by both:
    • The National Institute for Health and Care Clinical Excellence (NICE)
    • NHS England

If the QA process identifies problems with an assessment or diagnosis, we might not include it in an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP).

Please also view the 'Reviewing the evidence' section on the Education, health and care (EHC) needs assessment requests page.

What to expect from a private service

You should check that the person completing the assessment is qualified to complete a specialist neurodevelopmental assessment and give a diagnosis. They could be:

  • A child psychiatrist or consultant paediatrician registered with the General Medical Council (GMC)
  • A specialist nurse registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)
  • A psychologist, occupational therapist, or speech and language therapist registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)

The National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) provides guidance on neurodevelopmental assessments and diagnosis:

You should ask the private service if the assessment, diagnosis and assessment report will meet the NICE standards. This means the assessment will involve:

  • Your child being at the centre of the assessment and having their voice heard
  • Reviewing information from more than one setting (usually home and school)
  • A clinical observation
  • The use of questionnaires or specialist standardised assessments

Your local NHS neurodevelopmental service team can tell you what they would expect to see in a private assessment report. They cannot give you advice on which private service to use.

Transferring from a private service to an NHS neurodevelopmental service

Your child can get treatment from the NHS after having a private neurodevelopmental assessment and diagnosis. You will need to ask your GP to make a referral to your local NHS neurodevelopmental service.


There can be differences between what private services prescribe and what NHS services prescribe. It may not be possible for your child to continue with the same medication or dose when they transfer to an NHS service.

Where to get more advice and support

Family Action

Family Action provides services to support parents and carers of children with additional needs. They will support you while you wait for a neurodevelopmental assessment, and after diagnosis.

They can give you individual advice about your child's needs, and provide workshops, support groups and courses.

Positive Behaviour Strategies

Positive Behaviour Strategies is an online course for families of children with additional needs.

It can help you think about how you communicate with your child and give you some practical skills and strategies to help you manage their needs.

Support groups and events

There are local and national organisations that support parents and carers of children with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND). They can support you if your child has a neurodevelopmental condition or if you're concerned about their development.

SEND support groups and events