Children aged 0-5 years: Social Communication Conditions / Autism

Early Years support offer for parents and carers

What support is available and how to get this support?  

This page gives information about a range of services, groups, workshops and on-line resources that are available for parents/ carers of children aged under 5 years of age, where there are concerns about social communication conditions/ suspected autism, or where the child has a diagnosis of autism.

Initial concerns – seeking advice

Initial concerns – seeking advice

If your child is under 5 years of age and you have any concerns about how your child is developing, their speech, communication or behaviour – you can speak to any of the following:

They will listen to you and discuss your concerns. They will give advice and signpost you to appropriate groups, workshops or support provided in Newham. It is good to engage with these practitioners as soon as possible as they are helpful for you and your child.

The practitioner will remain available if you wish to go back to talk to them further.  At this stage the practitioner will develop a plan and monitor your child to see how they progress with the advice and interventions suggested. This support is part of the early intervention for your child.

The Universal Support Offer

What is meant by the Universal Support Offer?

Universal support means that this help and support is available to all children under 5 years of age and their parents/carers. Your child does not need to have a diagnosis to get these services.

Health visiting service

What is this?

The health visitors are practitioners who are skilled in child development. All children under 5 years of age have a health visitor and access to the health visiting service.

The health visitor will assess your child and provide practical advice of what to do. The service have available parent workshops around topics such as toileting, behaviour, feeding, sleep, communication that you can attend. Health visitors will give an early support plan and review your child, provide advice and make referrals on to other services, if needed.

How do I access?

You can contact your health visitor through the ‘single point of entry’ phone number for the service:  0203 373 9983.

Details of the different workshops are on the Newham Local Offer (on-line)

or by contacting the service on 0203 373 9983.

Talking Tots

What is this?

This a parent-training group that provides advice and strategies for parents to use with their child at home to support play and communication.  You will receive 3 parent workshop sessions, these maybe face to face or virtual. These sessions will give you lots of practical advice, tips and strategies to practice with your child. Members of the health visiting team deliver these sessions.

How do I access?

Speak with your HV or use the link below

Overview – Health Visiting Service – Newham Council

Talking Tots Programme – Ready, Steady, Talk! - Newham Online Forms ( or phone the Health Visitor phone line :0203 373 9983

Little Talkers programme in Children Centres with parents

What is this?

Little Talkers is a 4 to 5 week programme of face-to-face sessions where parents and children interact to practice communication and play skills. This programme is for children with speech delay (usually from 18 months). This means they may only be using a few words but their play and listening appear to developing appropriately.

Delivered through the children centres, the practitioners running this programme have received training from the Early Years Speech and Language Therapy Team (ELFT). The Little talkers programme aims to equip carers with practical skills and strategies to support children in developing language and communication.

How do I access this?

This service is by referral only. This referral can be made by any professional - from a SALT, Early years communication practitioner,  Health Visitor, early years practitioner, or Family support worker.  The referral form can be found here - Newham Families Advice and Support | Best Start in Life (BSiL) Children's Centres

Accessing groups delivered by children’s centres and health visitors, and also attending parent workshops will help provide advice and strategies to try with your child. For all children this universal level of advice and support is very helpful and makes a difference.

When you have Continuing Concerns

Continuing concerns

Where you as a parent have continuing concerns or where the Health visitor has identified a delay in your child’s development e.g. at the two year old health check, or when your child’s early year’s practitioner has identified delay in learning and development, it is important that further support and advice is put in place.

Early Notification

The health visitor or early year’s practitioner, working with your child, will make an ‘early notification’ to the Early Years Single Point of Access (SPA) to request further support and early intervention services.

The Early Notification process is about allocating support and intervention in a timely way. A child does not need a diagnosis for an Early Notification to be made or for support to be accessed. Any practitioner who is concerned about a child’s development, should discuss their concerns with you, as the parent, and make an early notification to the local authority. This notifies the local authority that the child has additional needs.

Access to nursery or childcare for two year olds.

When an early notification is made, you as a parent will receive a letter which can be taken to any early years setting and free childcare will be provided for 15 hours per week. A practitioner from the SEND hub will provide support to help you find an early years setting for your child or you can speak to your health visitor.

Targeted support offer

What is targeted support?

Targeted support is provided when your child has a need that requires more focused support and advice. Children’s centres and health visiting services and pre-school settings all provide a range of these ‘targeted’ support and interventions, along with other services that your child might need at this stage.

Early Years Support Plan

What is this?

If your child attends an early years setting, and additional support is required, the setting will develop  an Early year’s support plan (EYSP).The support plan records the areas of need that your child has, the outcomes that you are looking to be achieved and will record  the actions to be provided to meet these needs and outcomes.

How do I access this?

This outcome-focused plan will be written with you by early year’s staff in response to your child’s needs. You will be given a copy of this support document.

The EYSP sets out the ways in which parents and practitioners will work together to support your child’s development. The SENCO (for schools) or the Area SENCO team, for early years settings, will provide support and the EYSP will reflect the strategies identified by professionals involved (e.g. SALT, OT, Education support services, SENCO) and in partnership with parents.

If you do not have an EYSP please speak with the early year’s practitioner and/or SENCO in your child’s setting.

Through the termly monitoring and review process for the EYSP it may be necessary for the practitioners to make further referrals for your child to get additional help from specialist support and specialist services. These referrals will be made as required for your child and will always be discussed and agreed with you first.

Targeted support in the children centres

Little champions – drop in group  

What is this?

This is a drop in ‘stay and play’ group for up to 6 families with children who have additional needs around their play, interaction and communication. It offers a range of engaging activities to support communication, sensory needs, social skills, play and interaction skills. Delivered by trained staff within the children’s centres, the group is also supported by skilled autism practitioners from LCIS.

Little Champions groups are weekly drop in session for parents to practice play and interaction as well as provide opportunities to network with other parent’s with similar concerns. The group is run at different children’s centres across the Borough of Newham.

How do I access this?

To attend a ‘little champions’ session- please contact your local children’s centre

Health Visiting support plan /specialist support.

What is this?

A support plan will be developed between you and the health visitor to record your child’s needs and identify the actions to be taken to support you and your child. This will be reviewed and monitored regularly by your health visitor.

The health visiting service provide targeted parent workshops which provide advice around toileting, feeding and sleep.

How do I access this?

Please phone the Health Visitor phone line :0203 373 9983

Or look on the health visiting / 0-19 health services webpages

You will receive an acknowledgment letter confirming the waiting times for an appointment and your child will be placed on the SLT waiting list. 

The letter you receive from the Speech and Language Therapy service provides advice and information about resources available freely on the SCYPS website to use whilst your child is on the waiting list. These resources will give you lots of practical ideas of things you can be doing to help your child with their play and communication.

You will also be given the phone number of a special early year’s speech therapy ‘hot line’ which you can call for advice whilst your child is on the waiting list.

The Speech and language therapy intervention offer

You will be invited to book onto one of our speech and language parent workshops, which is the start of your child’s therapy. It is important that you attend as you will be given advice and strategies at the workshop to use with your child at home.

Based on your child needs, you may be offered direct face-to-face therapy sessions, group interventions, parent workshops, or a combination of sessions and workshops. It is important that you attend as many of these as you can. After your final session, a report, advice and recommendations will be sent to you and your child’s nursery, (if they have one), and any other practitioners involved. This will include information about the SLT resources and videos on the SCYPS website that you can access at any time.

If required the speech and language therapist will fill in an ‘Early notification’ or check that one has already been made to access the pre-school language communication and interaction service (LCIS).

During the SLT sessions, if the therapist thinks it would be beneficial for your child to have a specialist assessment for autism, they will discuss this with you and with your consent, they will refer your child to the Children’s Autism in Newham Diagnostic (CHAND) Service.

Language Communication and Interaction Service (LCIS)

What is this?

This is a specialist service which provides pre-school support for children under aged 5 years who have a social and communication need or a diagnosis of autism. The LCIS early years team provide support for children and families through the ‘Little Champions’ Drop in groups and provide a range of workshops for parents. The LCIS team will also provide support for children who are starting in nursery or starting in school.

LCIS aim to :

  • To meet the continuous needs of the children as they are referred in weekly from early notification Panel
  • Deliver early interventions, enabling positive outcomes for the child’s development and progression. 
  • Support parents and schools to understand their child’s needs and how best to support them.
  • Will visit the child in pre-school and school settings to provide advice and recommendations to the SENCO and the school based staff.

To be accepted by LCIS, the child does not have to have a diagnosis of Autism, but must have a SALT report that states the child has Social and Communication Needs.  

How do I access this?

LCIS is only available to children who have been referred to the service through the Early Notification process.

Referral for an Autism assessment

CHAND service

What is this?

CHAND is the Children’s Autism in Newham Diagnostic service for children who show features of autism or have differences in their play and social communication. It is part of the Specialist Children’s and Young Peoples Service (SCYPS) and CHAND is based at Lord Lister Health Centre.

CHAND assess children whose parents and professionals notice that they play and interact differently (social communication skills) to see if they are autistic.

The CHAND team is a made up of Doctors, Psychologists, Therapists, Educational psychologists and Nurses who are highly skilled in assessing for autism. They can suggest things that will help your child to feel more confident and tell you where to look for help with building your skills and your child’s communication

How do I access this?

Your child may need to be referred to CHAND by a therapist, GP or school staff (teacher or SENCO).

When the team get the referral, they check that they have enough information to show that assessment is the best plan.

What can I expect if my child is referred to and accepted by the CHAND service?

The CHAND service has lots of people waiting for assessment. When your child is referred, they join the waiting list. CHAND may ask for more information from you, nursery, school or therapists to help them get you seen by the right team.

To make an Autism assessment they need information from everyone that sees the child and to understand their history.

The autism clinic appointment

The team is made up of SLT, Paediatricians, Psychologists and a Nurse who are all trained in assessing for autism. They decide who is best to see your child based on your child’s history.

You may have one or more appointments, these could be virtual or face to face. You will be interviewed about your child's development, such as when they started talking. It is useful to write down things you are worried about or have noticed are different, or any questions you have for the autism team.  

If you have a face to face appointment, your child will probably be shown a range of toys and games, and whilst they play together, the professional will watch and learn about your child’s play skills, interaction, understanding, spoken language and behaviours.

When this, the interview with you and the information from school and therapy teams are put together, the team will make a decision. It is not just based on what they see in clinic that day. Then they will speak to you and check that you agree.

The assessment is useful in helping school to better understand and support your child.

Following this assessment:

  • your child may be given a diagnosis of autism
  • your child may need more information or another assessment before a diagnosis can be given
  • your child may have different needs –not autism
What happens when a diagnosis of autism is given?

Post diagnosis support

Lots of people are autistic (1.6% of the population). Everybody is different and every brain makes different connections. We want children who are autistic to be understood so that they are given equal opportunities to live full, happy lives. 

It might be useful to read more about autism and talk to other families with autistic children to help you to get used to this new diagnosis. Sometimes people feel confused after their child gets the diagnosis and worry about change. Talking to other people can help make this time less confusing.   


CHAND report

The CHAND team will write an autism assessment report, which they send to you, the school and the GP. There are recommendations for nursery / school to try and it should give them a better understanding of your child so that they get the support they deserve.    


CHAND post diagnosis information pack

The CHAND team will provide a post diagnosis pack of information that will be given, emailed or sent to you after the clinic appointment. This pack provides information about ASC and shows a range of useful resources.


Post Diagnosis Parent workshop

You will be invited to an online workshop with professionals and parents.

This will help you understand what autism is and give a space to talk through your concerns and meet other Newham parents who are in the same situation.

You can discuss what helps other families and things you might find hard, or plans that work well for you and your child.

You will be sent the slides and other links you discuss in the workshop so that you can remember the things you’ve talked about and refresh yourself. You can come back to the workshops again later if you like. 

Specialist Health Visiting Support;

All families are offered a post diagnosis support from specialist health visiting service within 4 weeks of receiving a diagnosis.

Specialist Health Visiting service – ongoing  support

After you first session you will be allocated to a specialist health visitor who will ask you some questions to understand what is working well for the family, and to help identify any support that you or your child would benefit from.  A support plan will be developed which the specialist HV and you child will be reviewed at agreed times to check the progress being made and any further support needed.

If your child has received a diagnosis of autism, we encourage you to inform the professionals working with your child, particularly their pre-school setting, who will continue to meet your child’s needs.

No diagnosis given

If your child is not given a diagnosis of autism they will still be given a report summarising the assessment findings. The report may include advice-as it is likely that your child will still have some additional needs. Your child may continue to have support in their pre-school setting and health visiting will continue to monitor and meet your child’s needs.

You can still access many of the workshops and other support offered, which are mentioned in this document ….remember for most of the parent support workshops you do not need a diagnosis.

Please speak with your health visitor, school based staff or area SENCO about accessing support.


Early Years Support Plan and EHCP’s -when there is a diagnosis of autism

If a diagnosis of autism is given, support in a pre-school setting or as your child transitions to school, will continue to be provided by the staff working with your child. The early years support plan will be monitored and new goals set for your child as required.

If the setting cannot fully meet the needs of your child with the EYS plan, they may discuss with you an application for an assessment for an Education Health Care Plan (EHCP). The EHCP is not linked to a specific diagnosis but is based on the needs of your child. If the needs are being met in a setting through an EYSP this will continue and will be all that is required. However, if the setting is unable to meet your child’s needs with the EYS Plan, an EHCP may help identify better the support your child needs.

Further Support and resources

Whether your child is at home with you or attends a pre-school setting or nursery, there are a range of workshops, sessions and services which you can access based on your child’s needs. This could include one or more of the following: 

Stay and Play sessions in Children’s Centres

Play sessions which give your child opportunity to play and interact with other children

To access:   Please go the local offer website using the link below

Messy Play sessions in Children’s Centres

Sessions where your child can explore and participate in messy play with different textures e.g. wet sand, water, food play- very good for helping when children are showing signs of fuss feeding or not liking to touch different textures.

To access:   Please go the local offer website using the link below


Social communication Video resources 

Short video clips showing you how to support your child are available from both the speech and language therapy services and LCIS service. These video clips are short, practical and helpful!


To access: Please use the online link below-where you will find a further link to the SCYPS youtube site.

or click on the SCYPS you tube channel link below


My sensory world- Occupational therapy video resources

These videos explain about our sensory world and how to support your child if they are showing sensory preferences

To access: Please press link for the SCYPS you tube channel or go to the individual short video clips below:

  • Living in a sensory world 1. Introducing our senses:

  • Living in a sensory world 2: Sensory Preferences

  • Living in a sensory world 3: Knowing yourself and your  child

  • Living in a sensory world 4: Sensory Friendly environments

  • Living in a sensory world 5: When a sensory preference becomes an issue


Food exploration videos- Occupational therapy video resource

Training for parents on how to introduce food groups to your child when they are presenting as ‘fussy ‘or ‘picky’ eaters

Workshop 1:

Workshop 2:

Workshop 3:


Toileting workshop

Basic workshop run by health visitors and a more targeted workshop run by specialist health visiting

To access: phone the Health Visitor phone line: 0203 373 9983

Sleep workshop

Provided by health visiting and specialist health visiting service

To access: phone the Health Visitor phone line: 0203 373 9983

SCOPE sleep right service

Many children who have ASD have some difficulties with sleep. Sleep Right is a face to face service that helps parents and carers of disabled children to improve their child's sleep.

For concerns around children sleep routines, SCOPE provide:

  • A 6 weeks' support from a sleep consultant
  • group learning sessions
  • bespoke sleep plan
  • sleep diary

To access: Please complete an online application form at and one of the Sleep Right team will be in touch

Telephone: 0808 800 3333





MENCAP can provide a range of support including:

  • family connectors,
  • a vibrant ‘Whats app’ group for parent support,
  • DLA application support

To access:

Telephone:        0207 454 0454 Or 0808 808 1111




EPAtS – Early-Positive Approaches to Support (EPAtS) programme.

A course for parents of children with a child aged 0 – 5 which is ‘pan’ disability e.g. where there is development delay, ASD or learning difficulties. This is an eight week course for 2.5 hours per week. It is presented by a practitioner and a parent with lived experience

To access: Places on this training are allocated following an early notification, please speak to your child’s health visitor, speech and language therapist, key person or other professional to ask about an early notification for your child.


Connect With Me (CWM)

This is a holistic intervention programme of support for early year’s children with social communication needs or autism and their parents and carers.

It is made up of 6 one to one direct face to face sessions. In each session families and children will  access  the following activities

a)    music therapy, b) a family support worker, c) speech and language therapy, d) sensory differences, e) a sensory story and f) a play session.

 The parent and the child visit each of the activity stations in their session, taking part together and working on strategies they can use to support their child at home.

To access:  Places on this programme are allocated through the early notification process and children attending must have an identified social communication need and be known to LCIS.

All the above-mentioned services, workshops etc. are available to parent’s when needed either whether or not you have a diagnosis.

Support for your emotional needs as a parent

Having a child with additional needs and going through assessment processes with your child can be a very worrying and stressful time for parents. It is important that you have support for your own emotional needs. Speak with any of the practitioners involved with your child about how you are feeling, or speak with your Health visitor or GP.

Where can you get support?

Join a parent group such as:

  • Monthly specialist health visitor parent support  group

How to access ?   

phone the Health Visitor phone line: 0203 373 9983

MENCAP parent support group

Newham talking therapies

If you are struggling, need some guidance or just need some ideas to help your mental health, then take the first step by completing our online self-referral formOnce completed one of our team will be in touch to book you an assessment with one of practitioners. 

Alternatively you can always give us a call on 0208 175 1770 to get started. Our office are are Monday to Friday, 9am – 5pm.

If you feel you would like to make a start with some of our workshops take a look at our weekly workshops, to sign up today!

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Last updated: 06/09/2023

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