Last updateMon, 28 Jan 2013 9pm

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Road Map

Going down the HEALTH ROUTE (Children)_ - first steps





For those of you who are not good with directions (I am one of them) and those of you who are familiar with Spaghetti Junction – you will be grimacing now for sure! Get your strongest shoes on, grab a flask of tea (maybe something stronger!) and let’s get started. Please don’t expect miracles or quick fix solutions, the wheels turn VERY slowly.  This article is intended for use with children. For those of you who are adults or adolescents who are in search of a diagnosis, please read the article entitled 'ADULT NEEDING DIAGNOSIS, HELP!

The minute a parent ‘flags’ up an issue with their child’s behaviour, eyebrows appear to become raised and fingers of blame are pointed. It is sadly a sign of the times. Parents by enlarge get blamed for most things, including the behaviour of their little sweetie. It’s a tough decision for many to seek help, but for those that do here are a few hints to prepare you. Please note for international readers  this information is applicable to the UK.

Generally parents head for their family doctor or if the child is school age it could be the teacher heading for the parents!

But given the choice which way is the best?



Let’s explore both routes and find out who everyone is. You may come into contact with a few people. Let’s take the mystery out of it.  You may not have to see everyone on the list beneath but it is likely that you will have to make more than one visit for accurate assessment and diagnosis. Be prepared to be handed from one to the other like pass the parcel!  Latest research suggests that for every ONE child suspected of being on the Autism Spectrum – families will need to see 16 professionals. For those families with multiple children – well you do the maths!

General Practitioner/Family doctor

This is a fully qualified doctor who has trained separately to become a general community doctor looking after the needs of people within their community. These doctors are generally consultant level. It will take approximately 10yrs to reach this position and involves graduate/doctoral level at university/medical school.

Consultant Paediatrician or Psychiatrist

These are expert doctors specialising in children and mental health.  It will take approximately 13yrs reach this position at both graduate and post graduate/doctoral level at university/medical school.

Community Paediatrician

Community paediatric doctors are a team of specialist children’s doctors with skills and expertise in child development, immunisation, social and educational paediatrics.  They work within a number of multidisciplinary teams to assess and meet the health needs of children and young people with disabilities or special needs, those who are ‘Looked After’ or where there are concerns regarding a child’s safety. It will take approximately 8 – 10yrs to reach consultant level at doctoral level.

Consultant Neurologist

A Consultant Neurologist is a doctor specialising in diseases and illnesses of the nervous system and brain. He/She will deal with epilepsy, multiple scleroses, headache, brain injury, neck and back injury, stroke, nerve damage, neuro-degenerative disorders, neurodevelopmental conditions and Parkinson’s disease. It will take minimum of 13yrs to reach this level. There are only a very small number of Paediatric Neurologists in the UK.


There are a variety of these; Educational, Clinical, Chartered being the ones you will more than likely come into contact with.  These professionals will use specific tests to establish a diagnosis and to advise further. Some are able to diagnose as well as assess. You may see more than one! A specialist Psychologist will have undertaken minimum 6yrs training at graduate and post graduate level at university.

Health Visitor

Health visitors are Registered Nurses (min 4yrs training at university/hospital clinical setting)  who have undertaken further training to work as part of a primary health care team.  They specialise in child development and will see children from birth through to adolescent. It has to be said though that predominantly they work with the under 5's and pre schoolers. As their name suggests, their role is to promote mental, physical and social well-being in the community by giving advice and support to families in all age groups. Health visitors will train for approximately 6yrs to become qualified.

Specialist Autism Nurse

These are Registered Nurses  nurses who have post graduate qualification and experience in Autism and associated conditions. Nurses with this experience can take medical histories, train and advise on a one to one level or clinic based. It will take 4yrs of general nursing training followed by post graduate 1 – 5yrs courses at university.

Speech and Language Therapists

A specialist in speech and language difficulties Communication includes speech (articulation, intonation, rate, intensity, voice, resonance, and fluency), language (phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics), both receptive and expressive language (including reading and writing). Speech and Language Therapists train for 3yrs at graduate level.

Occupational Therapist

Occupational Therapists provide services to improve the patient's ability to accomplish everyday tasks associated with a maximum level of safe independence.

Occupational therapists assess functioning in activities of everyday living, including dressing, bathing, grooming, meal preparation, writing, and driving, which are essential for independent living. Occupational Therapists train for a minimum of 2yrs at graduate level but can take up to 6yrs depending on speciality.

Social Worker

A trained specialist in the social, emotional and financial needs of families and patients. Social workers often help families and patients obtain the services they have been prescribed. It is usual for a family in need to be appointed a Social Worker who can co-ordinate other services. Social Workers will have trained for minimum 4yrs at graduate and post graduate level.


Psychotherapists work with individuals, couples, families and groups to help them overcome a range of psychological and emotional concerns. With the client as an active participant, psychotherapists use personal treatment plans and a variety of non-medical-based treatments the clinical training to become a Psychotherapist takes a minimum of 4 years (part time) and is the responsibility of each training institution to decide when a trainee is fit to qualify. In general, to work as psychotherapists, individuals will need to undertake training recognized/accredited by the Association of Psychotherapists or equivalent. It should be noted that anyone can call themselves a ‘psychotherapist’. We recommend you check they are qualified and recognised by an official organisation.


An audiologist is a healthcare professional specializing in identifying, diagnosing, treating and monitoring disorders of the auditory and vestibular system portions of the ear. Audiologists are trained to diagnose, manage and/or treat hearing or balance problems. It takes approximately 7yrs to train at doctoral level.


An orthoptist investigates diagnoses and treats sight-related problems and abnormalities of eye movement and eye position. Orthoptists carry out tests to diagnose problems and to determine appropriate management. They work with patients of all ages, from the very young to the elderly, and use specialist skills to help improve their vision. It takes approximately 4yrs at graduate and post graduate level.

Play therapists, art therapists, music therapy.

Creative therapy refers to a group of techniques that are expressive and creative in nature. It enables clients to find another form of expression beyond words. This provides limitless modes of expression. Therapies can include sand play, clay, movement workshops, and role play with music therapy. It can take anything from a year to 3yrs to train depending on the level of course entry.

Outreach workers

Outreach workers are, by definition, employed to reach out to the community in a direct way and much of their work will focus on family homes or education and play centres used by the Early Years Development and Childcare Partnerships. Training can be ongoing with a good educational background and qualifications to support it.

So as you can see the list is long and we haven’t included EVERYONE here, this is just a taster of the most likely! Everyone is different so no one follows exactly the same path.

As you can probably understand the path is a long difficult and arduous one. It is no wonder parents are constantly feeling overwhelmed.

Jelibean aims to offer a ‘wraparound’ approach putting everything under one roof. One day we will achieve our aim of ‘one stop Jelishop’ everywhere in the country.

For the other route, please click into – Going the Education Route, find out what to expect!