Scottish Allied Health Professional (AHP) Pathway for Children with Down’s syndrome aged 0-3 years

On behalf of children and families with Down’s syndrome, Down’s Syndrome Scotland made a request to the Allied Health Professional Children and Young People’s National Lead at Scottish Government for a Scottish AHP Pathway for Children with Down’s Syndrome and their families. It was agreed there is a particular need for this pathway for children from birth to 36 months. At this early stage of their development, children with Down’s syndrome can have additional support needs which include managing low muscle tone, feeding difficulties and delayed speech development and parents/carers should be supported with targeted intervention from relevant AHPs.  This national care pathway will guide you and your child up to age 3 and enables you to access specialist AHP services at the appropriate time and be signposted to appropriate interventions which support your child’s early development.

Once children are over age 3 and attending an education provision, the GIRFEC process is established to make referrals to AHP services as and when needed.

Ready to Act (2016) is the Scottish Governments national framework supporting the development of an Allied Health Professionals (AHP) children and young people’s (CYP) community across Scotland. It has five ambitions for AHPs: early intervention and prevention, participation and engagement, partnerships and integration, access and leadership. Using these ambitions “When to Request Support from AHPs” postcards were produced and are included in our new baby packs given to all new parents across Scotland. You can also access them by clicking on the picture below.

These postcards are designed to help you recognise developmental or health needs, or when you and your baby may need extra support from a specialist allied health professional like a physiotherapist, occupational therapist or dietician.

All AHP services have an open access policy, meaning that anyone can make a request for assistance at any time for a specific need. These postcards are intended to complement that policy by supporting you and paediatric staff to identify concerns.

On the front of each postcard you will find the topic and stage that that postcard refers to and the reverse of each card asks questions related to that topic which you can ask your midwife or health visitor to go through with you to identify if specialist support may be needed and who they need to contact.

These postcards should be used alongside the information in the Personal Child Health Record (PCHR) insert for children with Down’s syndrome which your health visitor provides for you.

As children with Down’s syndrome develop at different rates, it has been challenging to find evidence for specific ages at which they acquire specific skills. The most readily available professional guidance is provided by the Personal Child Health Record (PCHR) insert for babies born with Down’s syndrome. This developmental guidance, along with the use of a developmental journal e.g. Early Support Developmental Journal for babies and children with Down’s syndrome, could be used to support the development of appropriate targeted and specialist intervention by AHP services for your baby through the early years.