Additional Needs & Disabilities


Transition is the word we use to describe moving from something familiar to something different. Changes happen for us all throughout life.

Big changes happen for our children and young people when they start nursery, school or college, or have change in the team that provides support and care for them as they move towards adulthood.

Change can sometimes be unsettling for children, young people and their families. If your child has additional needs and / or disabilities these changes can seem even more challenging.

  • Your son or daughter might find changes of people and routine extra hard.
  • You might worry that your child’s or young person's needs won’t be met in their new setting and / or with new people. 

It can be a hard time for you all and it can take time to adjust. Parents and carers play an important part in helping their children and young people to prepare for new experiences and help the transition go smoothly. 

Dive Deeper

Things That Can Help

If you know a change is coming up try and begin preparation early.

Talk About Any Changes

  • Use whatever communication style works best for your child or young person. You might use pictures, photos or objects to help them understand.
  • Repeat the ‘story’ of the change to come often, so your child or young person has time to get used to the idea.
  • Use a calendar and cross the days off until a big change will happen. This can help time has to passing make more sense.
  • Write a social story – breaking the story of what will happen into small parts. Add photos and pictures too.
  • Keep repeating the story as often as they might need to begin to know what is going to happen.

You Own Anxiety

You may have worries and anxieties about the change and how your child or young person will cope.

Talk to friends and family about your feelings, but try not to let your child overhear your worries. Children and young people are very tuned in to their parents feelings.

If you are able to be positive about the change in front of them it will help them feel less worried.

Moving Between Settings

If your child / young person is moving between settings, talk to those who have been working with your child and ask how they will share information with the new team.

Make contact with the new team. You know your child best. Share their likes, dislikes, things they enjoy and things that make them worried or overwhelmed.

You and your child may be able to have visits to new nurseries, schools or services.

Settling In

Once your child has made the move to the new placement or setting, help them adjust.

  • Give lots of praise and encouragement.
  • Keep to routines and boundaries at home so that they get plenty of rest and feel secure. 
  • Ask for feedback on how things are going at the new placement. Share any concerns you or your child have.
  • Let them know if you notice any changes in the way your child is behaving at home.
  • Praise your child for coping with a new place and people.

It can take time to get used to somewhere new. If you are worried talk to the school or setting, or talk to the professionals who support your child.

Online Course for Parents of Children with Additional Needs

This online course is for parents with a child with additional needs. It is for parents, relatives and friends of children who may have a physical or learning disability or who may have autistic traits. This short course will help you learn about:

  • Understanding and responding to your child's feelings
  • Self-regulation & anger
  • Communication and tuning in
  • Having fun together

Sign up for FREE with access code: JON70

Find out more

Who can Help?

If you feel your child has additional needs, it is very important to communicate with your child’s school. You and your child should be involved with decisions that are being made about potential support.

To learn more about what you can do if you have concerns about your child’s progress, visit the SEND Local Offer website pages for parents.

You can contact the Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520 631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.

To speak to other Norfolk parents and carers, you can join our online community forum below.

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