Will children’s services agree a child with ADHD or autism is a disabled child and prove support?
2 minute read
The Children Act 1989 definition of a disabled child includes those who suffer from a mental disorder of any kind. This is set out at section 17(11) of the Children Act 1989 which says:
A child will be considered disabled if:
- They are blind, deaf or dumb (unable to speak because of a verbal impairment)
- They suffer from a mental disorder of any kind
- They are substantially and permanently handicapped by illness, injury or congenital deformity (a deformity present at birth).
A mental disorder is a disorder or disability of the mind. ADHD is recognised as a mental disorder. So a child who has ADHD should be considered to meet the definition of disabled that is in section 17 of the Children Act 1989.
A child with autism should be accepted as meeting the definition of disabled in the Children Act 1989 if they suffer a mental disorder of any kind.
Information about the child’s disability from anyone working with them or their family will be useful to share with children’s services. This may be a letter from a teacher, support worker or doctor for example.
If a formal diagnosis is available it will be helpful for this to be shared with children’s services. But, the Children Act 1989 does not require there to be a formal diagnosis of a condition in order for a child in need assessment to be carried out. So an assessment should never be refused on the basis that a formal diagnosis is not available.
Even if it a child is not accepted as being disabled, a family can still request extra support and for a child in need assessment. Remember, children’s services departments:
- Must provide a range and level of services available to help children in need and their families (section 17(1) Children Act 1989).
- And they should carry out a child in need assessment where the parent or carer requests this if they think a child may be a ‘child in need’.
See our Child in need page for more information.