First steps

How to approach your GP

The first step in seeking a diagnosis is to book an appointment with your GP. Remember that a GP does not carry out assessments or give a diagnosis. All you need to do is illustrate to your GP that your child is experiencing an unusual level of difficulties that require further investigation. The aim is to obtain a referral to a paediatrician, often in a Child Development Clinic, or CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service).

Your appointment may be an emotional experience for you and you may find it hard to keep focused. It is helpful to make a few brief notes before a visit and it can be beneficial to take a supportive friend or relative with you. Below are a few points to think about:

  • Illustrate the range of difficulties, don't just focus on challenging behaviour. Problem areas may include: anxiety, friendships, social skills, concentration, learning, obsessive behaviour, mood swings, school attendance, etc.
  • Make it clear that these are historic and ongoing problems, not just a new phase.
  • Show that problems arise in a range of situations/environments and with different people, eg at home, school, with both parents, grandparents, when out, at friends, etc.
  • It can be helpful to show ways in which traditional parenting skills have limited effect, eg Inability to learn from consistent discipline, sanctions or consequences.
  • If this is not your only child, it may be helpful make comparisons to your other children. Otherwise you could compare with other children you know well. Comparisons could be made against typically developing children or any you know with established difficulties.
  • Do mention any concerns that may have been expressed by school, health visitors, nurses, social workers, other professionals or even family and friends.

Referral to specialist services

Your GP can make a referral to specialist services, such as a Paediatrican or CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service). It may also be appropriate to initiate discussions with education services (e.g. Educational Psychologist, Autism Team) at this time depending on where the child is in their educational context.

The Elizabeth Newson Centre, Nottingham

ln some cases a referral for assessment may be made to the Elizabeth Newson Centre in Nottingham, also referred to as ENC. This is part of NORSACA. Click here to fInd out more.

>>Preparing for an assessment