Advice and support for families of children with special educational needs and disabilities

Support for families with children who have SEND

What advice is available to support parents and carers of children and young people who have, or may have, special educational needs and disabilities

Key contacts

  • If you're concerned about a child's safety or wellbeing, you can make a referral to First Response or phone them on 0117 903 6444.
  • If you're concerned about your child's learning and progress at their education setting, talk to your child's teacher or the school's SENDCO. The Ordinarily Available Provision has more information about support schools should be able to offer.
  • If you need information or advice about early support for your child's additional needs, phone FLORA on 0117 352 6020, or email
  • If you have a question about how to ask for an EHC plan, phone us on 0117 922 3700.
  • If you need independent information and advice, phone SEND And You (SAY) on 0117 989 7725.

Support in Bristol

Families, Local Offer, Resources and Advice (FLORA)

The FLORA team provide information and advice for children and young people with additional needs and their parents and carers.

For more information, email with your name and phone number. The team will contact you within 3 working days.

You can also call FLORA on 0117 352 6020. They're open:

  • Monday, 8:30am to 5pm
  • Tuesday, 8:30am to 5pm
  • Wednesday, 10:30am to 8pm
  • Thursday, 8:30am to 5pm
  • Friday, 8:30am to 4:30pm

Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Independent Advice and Support Service (SENDIASS)

SEND And You (SAY) provides independent advice and support on things that relate to a child or young person's special educational needs or disabilities. It's free, confidential and impartial, and is for:

  • parents and carers of children with special educational needs or disabilities
  • children and young people with with special educational needs or disabilities

They're open Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 4.30pm.

The Council for Disabled Children's introduction to the information advice and support service has more detail about the different types of support on offer.

Children and young people with SEND can use the service independently to ensure their views are shared, they understand educational processes and can contribute to decisions about their future.

Parents and carers with parental responsibility can use the service to understand the rights, processes and policies in place for children and young people with SEND and for support in voicing their views.

Information, advice and support may include:

  • statutory work, which may lead to an education, health and care (EHC) plan
  • concerns and getting help early
  • SEND support in schools
  • accessing services to support education
  • signposting to other services
  • disagreement resolution
  • exclusions

Parenting courses

We offer family learning courses about autism.

We also offer parenting courses for all parents about:

  • young children
  • challenging behaviour
  • anxiety
  • teenagers
  • involvement in the criminal justice system

Bristol Parent Carers

A participation group for families with children and young people with disabilities and special needs to help influence how services are run.

Carers Support Centre

Carers Support Centre offers a range of services for parent carers with a child age 18 or younger. These include practical and emotional support, advice and information.


HappyMaps is for parents to find useful resources on behaviour and mental health for their children, from babies to young adults. There is general national information and also local information on counselling, charities, local CAMHS (Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services) and parenting groups for the South West. 

Healthwatch Bristol 

Helps families have their voice heard in decisions about health and social care services.

Bristol Autism Support (BAS)

A not-for-profit social enterprise providing information, support and training for parents and carers of autistic children in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire. You do not need a diagnosis of autism to access the support.

Off The Record for parents

Mental health support. Find a downloadable parents' pack, local parent carer support group and helpline.

The Autism Page

A collection of resources created by a local mother of an autistic child.

The Family Centre (Deaf Children)

Supports families with a deaf child or a deaf parent. They run a range of activities, including family sessions, a kids club, a youth club, family sign language tuition. 

Ups and Downs South West

Local charity that deals with the health and education of children and young people who have Down Syndrome. They offer support to children and young people, their parents/carers and all linked professionals. 

Murmuration Community Therapy

Murmuration sets up nurture groups, which are small groups for 6 to 8 SEND parents nurturing connection and belonging, starting with an 8 week mental wellness course. Murmuration supports each group to continue as they wish, being there for each other as friends, connecting as families or continuing to meet as a group.

Your child could be at pre-diagnosis stage or you could be years into the journey. All are welcome, whatever the disability or neurodivergence. 

New groups start regularly throughout the year, sometimes with specific parent groups. Get in touch to learn more and join the waiting list for the next start dates:

National support 

The national Information, Advice and Support Services network.


Advice, information and support for parents of disabled children, whatever their health condition. They also bring families together so they can support each other.

Guide Dogs

Guide Dogs provide services for children, young people and families. Find support:

  • for your family
  • to guide your child through school
  • with assistive technology and sensory toys
  • to help your child read 
  • for help with early diagnosis 
  • to develop life skills
  • to get out and about safely

You can visit their website or call them on 0800 781 1444 or email on


Supports families with children affected by a neurological condition aged under 17 years. For example: neuro-genetic conditions, Cerebral Palsy, Epilepsy, Developmental Delay, Autism, ADHD, Learning Difficulties.

Children's Education Advisory Service (CEAS)

Provides advice to service and MOD families about the education of service children, including issues relating to SEND. 


Supports children, young people and adults with sensory impairment, and their families. The people we support are deafblind, or sometimes have single sensory impairment with additional needs and/or multi sensory impairment.


The only charity dedicated to the bowel and bladder health of all children and teenagers in the UK. They provide expert support, information and understanding to children, teenagers, parents, carers and professionals.

Independent Parental Special Educational Advice

The IPSEA helpline operates as a call back service, offering 30 minute telephone advice sessions.


Scope Navigate

Offers a phone service called Navigate that provides support at the start of your journey as a parent of a disabled child. It's a 6 week programme that aims to put you in touch with a personal advisor, helping you to talk about your feelings and concerns.

Phone them on 0808 801 0510. They're open:

  • Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm
  • Saturday, 9am to 12pm

Scope Disability Energy Support

Scope’s Disability Energy Support service provides free energy advice to any household where a disabled person lives across England and Wales.

Book an appointment at Scope Disability Energy Support.
Freephone: 0808 801 0828, Monday to Friday 11am to 4pm, excluding bank holidays.


Information about benefits and financial help for disabled people with disabilities.

Disabled Children’s Partnership

A group of 60 disability and children’s organisations campaigning for improved health and social care.


AccessAble publish accessibility information for places of interest in the UK and the Republic of Ireland. They have accessibility information about venues in Bristol.


Advice on daily living equipment, such as using baths and moving disabled children in and out of them.

National Autistic Society

Provides support and services for autistic people (including those with Asperger's syndrome), their parents and carers, and professionals.

National Deaf Children's Society

A national support service for deaf and hard of hearing children.

Rainbow Trust Children's Charity

Provides emotional and practical support to families who have a child with life-threatening or terminal illness. They support seriously ill children, up to the age of 18 with a life threatening or terminal condition, and their families in the family home and local community.

Referrals can come from any source. They enable families to manage everyday life whilst caring for a sick child and to make the most of time together.

Call 01249 705881 to find out about the services in the South West.

Tourettes Action

A leading support and research charity for people with Tourette Syndrome and their families.

If you know of any organisations that should be on this list please let us know by emailing us at or using our feedback form.


Provides support to people who grow up with, or have grown up with, a disabled brother or sister.

The Stroke Association

Offers a childhood stroke support service, providing information, advice and networking events to families affected by stroke in childhood. Contact them online or call 0303 3033 100.

The Nystagmus Network

provides a number of free to download resources, which contain practical information and advice for parents and carers who have a child with nystagmus.

The Listening Ear

The Listening Ear is from the charity Contact (for families with disabled children). They offer one to one telephone appointments with a family support adviser for parent carers looking for a listening ear, reassurance and practical and emotional support.

Wellbeing videos

The educational psychology team have created 3 videos with psychologist Ross McIntosh to support parents and carers with their wellbeing.

View the videos on our YouTube playlist:

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