Information for parents and children with SEND about COVID-19


Many parents and carers will have concerns about the Coronavirus outbreak, particularly anyone who has a child with additional health needs.

Below are  some key sources of information and additional things that you may want to think about.

Schools are still contactable and if you are worried about anything you should email your school or to ask for specific support and advice for your child.

If you want to talk to your child about Coronavirus and its impact, you might find it helpful to use a child-friendly guide like this one from Mindheart that is available in a variety of languages including Turkish, Romanian, French and Polish.

There is also an easy-read guide from Mencap and What's Up with this Coronavirus? is another useful child-friendly explanation in graphic format.

There is also an easy-read guide on social distancing from the Down Syndrome Association.

You can get advice from the National Autistic society guidance and helpline for parents, young people and staff.

 Guidance in British Sign Language is available from Signhealth.

This is an uncertain time for all of us and young children can find it particularly difficult to manage their anxieties and keep positive.

This video by Dr Pooky Knightsmith, also has some good advice for families and teachers during this period.

Other agencies that also provide individual support for children are:

If your child is under Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services(CAMHS) then you need to know that In response to Covid-19, national guidance is being followed, particularly in reducing footfall in line with social distancing requirements to protect patients, staff and services.

NELFT CAMHS service continues to be operational. The Covid- 19 measures in place are:

  • The service is providing a telephone/virtual based service, where possible.
  • The service is making regular telephone contact with all existing patients.
  • The service is also providing advice, signposting and support material.
  •  Duty Management, Psychiatrist and senior clinical staff rotas are in place.
  • Unfortunately the service has had to cancel or postpone all non-critical face to face forums, at present, including Autism and Attention Deficit Disorder assessments (ADHD).
  • new referrals of children will be risk assessed and support provided as needed.
  • The service is focusing on the most vulnerable, high risk children and sustaining critical services for children and their families
  • If families or professionals need support in this period, please contact the duty service on 03005551247, between 9-5 and Mental Health Direct 03005551000 outside of these hours.

In addition, IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapy) services are also available for parents that have Mental Health concerns which may be exacerbated by worrying over their children in these times. You can self-refer online to Waltham Forest Talking Therapies by phoning 0300 300 1554 Option 4.

NHS England have issued a description for all community services of all non essential clinical services  to stop so that the staff  can  support the NHS response to Covid  19

Therapy Services are continuing for some children where there would be a high risk to their health if their therapy stopped. This applies to:

  • Children who have an eating and drinking difficulty (Dysphagia)
  • Children and babies who have had an injury or operation and need physio or occupational therapy
  • Children who have deteriorating physical conditions.

Unfortunately this means that NELFT’s autism diagnostic and therapy services are not operating at this time. NELFT are still running some of the medical clinics for children who have significant medical needs e.g. epilepsy clinics, however it is important to note that the majority of clinics are being carried out via teleconferencing. 

If you are a parent of a child with additional needs or your child has an Education Health and Care plan, and you are very concerned about your child’s communication, or physical therapy, you can contact the service for advice on the following numbers:

  • Physiotherapy  - 0208 430 7980
  • Occupational Therapy  - 0208 430 7960
  • Speech and Language Therapy  - 0208 430 7970

If you are  parent  or professional and are concerned that a child’s needs maybe changing significantly please contact the main email line, as this is being monitored daily: tel: Wood Street 0208 430 7777

The majority of children who may have Covid -19 have some symptoms of a cold or flu but rarely experience severe symptoms. Children who may experience more serious symptoms and therefore need to be stay at home and be isolated or shielded are those with the following needs:

Please do contact your GP if you think your child may fall into this category and you require a letter to show to your employer or services such at supermarkets.

 Child with severe asthma, sickle cell or diabetes

Child who has a physical disability e.g. a wheelchair user and as a result has respiratory compromise

Child who has an autoimmune disorder such as thyroid difficulties, immune suppressed or has a heart condition

Child who has had a treatment for cancer

Child who has had a previous lung condition e.g. pneumonia or had TB

If your child does not have one of these conditions they do not need to shield, however it is very important that if your child does become very ill that you seek advice as early as possible. This poster gives you some symptoms to look out for, that are not Covid-19 related but require medical attention. When and how to access advice when children become ill or are injured (PDF)

If you need help whilst at home due to social distancing and self isolating e.g. to pick up shopping or medicines from the pharmacy, you can register yourself with the NHS volunteer responders.


If you are normally the primary carer for your child, it is important to make sure that your alternative care (i.e. partner, family or friends) know in advance any special arrangements for looking after your child if you get sick (and/or have written instructions ready) - you may not be up to explaining all the details if you are ill.

If you are interesting in accessing school respite you can contact the SEN team at Waltham Forest on if your child has an EHCP or you can contact ….. (general contact) if not

If you do not currently have support from Early Help but are experiencing difficulties during this outbreak and require some support, please self-refer to Early Help via mash on:

TEL: 0208 496 2310

(Monday-Thursday 9.00am-5.15pm and Friday 9.00am-5.00pm)

OUT OF HOURS: 020 8496 3000


The thought of educating your child at home may seem very difficult at first, but you can find lots of advice in the Managing the transition to home schooling document (lPDF, 970KB) on how to establish routines and how to help children access their schoolwork.

You can find some specific advice about home-educating children with visual and hearing impairments below. Families of children who benefit from the use of visuals, can access a free 30 day trial of the Widget App using the code WIDGIT30

This Supporting the Family guide (PDF, 3MB) has lots of useful guidance as to how to balance your child’s day as well as guidance for good apps and apps which are not so good to help you to recognise them.