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LDMH CAMHS while you wait

Parenting a young person with a learning disability can be both rewarding and challenging. All parents and carers will go through periods where things feel hard to manage. If your child has a learning disability, this can add further complexity to parenting for several reasons, including issues with communication, accessing services, and additional health problems.

For young people with learning disabilities, mental health problems can present differently to the general population. It can be difficult for someone with a moderate to severe learning disability to express their thoughts and feelings clearly. Therefore, they often show how they feel through what they do, rather than what they say.

This resource aims to provide general advice and support to parents and carers who are waiting for input from the LDMH Team.

Consider physical health

Children with learning disabilities are more likely to experience physical health issues, and many of them may struggle to tell you they are experiencing discomfort or pain. This can lead to difficult behaviours such as harming themselves or others, or refusal to do things. If you see a change in your child’s behaviour or daily functioning, such as toileting, eating, drinking, sleeping patterns. Consider the possible physical causes such as an infection, constipation, earache, toothache, stomach pains etc. Some services that could help are:

  • Pharmacy
  • Dentist
  • GP
  • Paediatrician
  • Ryegate (Neurodisability service)
  • Eye test
  • Hearing test
  • Walk in Centre
  • A&E (in an emergency)

If your child is 14 years old or older, they can access an annual health check via their GP. Further information on this can be found on our resource library.

Seek emotional support

Caring for a child with a learning disability can be emotionally and physically tiring. It is important to seek emotional support for yourself. Reach out to support groups, online communities, or local organizations, such as autistic children and carers together (ACCT), Mencap and Sheffield Parent/Carer Forum. Connecting with others who have similar experiences can provide valuable insight, guidance, and support.

Maintain open communication

We will contact you when we have the capacity to see you and your child. Our waiting times can fluctuate depending on how busy we are. During the waiting period, you can call us to keep track of any updates or changes to the waiting list and let us know if your circumstances have changed.

Utilise local services

Consider which services you already have access to and utilise them for support. For example, consider what is available through school, your GP, Ryegate, Social Care, SNIPS, Continence Team and respite. The Sheffield Directory also contains lots of helpful information.

Focus on strengths and positive reinforcement

Children with learning disabilities often have unique strengths and talents. Encourage and celebrate your child’s achievements, no matter how small. It is important to acknowledge when things go well and be kind to yourself during difficult times. Consider what has worked well in the past and if this could help you make sense of and manage current difficulties.

Create a structured and supportive environment

Children with learning disabilities often benefit from structured and supportive environments. Can you put in place or return to consistent routines and clear expectations at home? Talk with your child’s school about strategies they use, such as visual timetables, and consider whether these could be useful at home. Creating a structured environment can help your child feel secure and promote their overall well-being.

Take care of yourself

Take time for yourself to recharge and rejuvenate, even if you only have small chunks of time available for this. Seek support from family, friends, or respite care services that can provide you with a break. Consider accessing special needs inclusion play care service (SNIPS) for respite. By taking care of yourself, you will be better equipped to support your child effectively.

What to do in an emergency or crisis

If you or someone else is in immediate risk of serious harm or injury, you should call the emergency services by dialling 999

9am to 5pm – Speak to the Sheffield CAMHS team on 0114 226 2348

Out of hours – after 5pm and before 9am

If you are under 16 years old please attend Sheffield Children’s Hospital Emergency Department (0114 271 7000)

If you are 16 years old or over please attend Sheffield’s Northern General Hospital (0114 243 4343)

Is something missing from this resource that you think should be included? Please let us know

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Please note: this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s NHS FT. These details may not reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If this information has been translated into another language from English, efforts have been made to maintain accuracy, but there may still be some translation errors. If you are unsure about any of the guidance in this resource or have specific questions about how it relates to your child, always ask your healthcare professional for further advice.

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Western Bank
S10 2TH

United Kingdom

Switchboard: 0114 271 7000

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