Learning Disability Team

The Learning Disability Nursing service specialises in providing support and advice to families and other health and educational staff, across Devon.
Our service is available for children and young people and their families who meet our criteria. Our services are delivered in clinics, family homes, preschool and school settings.

Support available:

  • Exeter, Mid and East Devon
  • Northern and Torridge
  • Okehampton
  • West Devon
  • South Hams excl. Dartmouth and Totnes
  • South Hams incl. Dartmouth and Totnes
  • Teignbridge

  • Exeter, Mid and East Devon
  • Northern and Torridge
  • Okehampton
  • West Devon
  • South Hams excl. Dartmouth and Totnes
  • South Hams incl. Dartmouth and Totnes
  • Teignbridge

  • Referral Criteria – Challenging Behaviour
  • Referral Criteria – Emotional Support for Parents
  • Referral Criteria – Learning Disability and Autistic Spectrum Conditions
  • Referral Criteria – Learning Disability Nursing
  • Referral Criteria – Sexual health for young people with a learning disability
  • Referral Criteria – Sleep Problems
  • Referral Criteria – Support with communication for a child or young person with a learning disability

We are a specialist team of Learning Disability Nurses and child Learning Disability Clinical Psychologists who provide a county-wide community Learning Disability service which includes advice and support to families and to other professionals.

Our service includes behavioural, sleep and toileting assessments; working with children who have profound and severe levels of learning disability (including children who additionally have Autistic Spectrum Disorder) and supporting the development of community and school based programmes of support.

As such this service offers both indirect and direct support to children and young people with learning disabilities & facilitates their access to mainstream services.

How can we help?

The function of the Learning Disability Team is to provide specialist community learning disability nursing, psychological input and specialist advice, as well as support and health facilitation for children and young people with learning disabilities and their parents/carers, which will enable them to access mainstream health and community services across Devon.

We will:

  • contribute to the Early Help Assessment and Team Around the Child (TAC) process to ensure that children and young people with learning disabilities, additional and safeguarding needs are fully identified and communicated;
  • adopt a lead professional role as appropriate for children and young people with a learning disability with complex health needs, when appropriate to the Learning Disability Team, following an assessment of the needs of the child or young person; and
  • provide specialist therapeutic interventions which may include: behavioural or functional assessments; assessment of a child/young person’s emotional development; sleep assessments; and we will also work with children on the Autistic Spectrum (ASC).

The team see a large proportion of children and young people with a learning disability who also have a diagnosis or presentation of an Autistic Spectrum Condition (ASC) and who are also identified as having severe needs which impact on their behaviour.

The team can work with parents/carers to develop coping skills and resilience around the impact the learning disability may have on their child. We also support the use of innovative ways of supporting the young person to access positive physical health and emotional wellbeing, either by promoting inclusion or directly supporting the child or young person and their family to access mainstream health provisions.

Guidance and helpful information

A request for service is appropriate if there are significant concerns about the child’s development, health, well-being or behaviour and these are having a significant impact on the child’s functioning at home.

Before submitting a request for service:

  • It is important that the child or young person has been seen in person and assessed by the requester
  • Prior attempts have already been made by frontline staff to resolve the child or young person’s difficulties with mainstream support
  • Formal consent has been obtained for someone with legal parental responsibility for the child before a request for service is made. Please remember that young people aged 16 and above are able to give consent to the request in their own right and some young people under the age of 16 who are competent to consent to a request can also do so. Although it is always usual to obtain parental consent for a request, the service will see young people alone, as appropriate. In such cases, the requester should give careful consideration to any risks involved to the young person and assess the capacity of the young person to consent to the request.
  • Information from the requester regarding what is needed to support the child, young person and/or family to engage with the service. Please note that any child protection concerns should already have been reported to the statutory agencies prior to request.

Toolkits and Strategies

The following toolkits are available to support you to record behaviours, sleep patterns and other information which will be useful in assessing what the support a child or young person requires:

  • Behavioural pack >

    This toolkit includes basic information and advice on behaviour. The pack will allow you to record information which is useful during a clinic assessment to allow the clinician to assess the help needed.

  • Sleep hygiene information and sleep diaries >

    This includes sleep hygiene information sheets to give you basic advice for promoting healthy sleep patterns. We only support families with severe sleep problems but this information is useful for all families and children.  The sheets here allow you to record information on sleep patterns and approaches which will be useful for the clinican when you attend an appointment with us. 

  • Independence pack >

    This pack includes a basic explanation of techniques which may be useful for a family and help to reduce anxiety. 

What is the process?


Children and Family Health Devon
Single Point of Access Team
1a Capital Court
Bittern Road
Sowton Industrial Estate
Exeter EX2 7FW

t: 0330 0245 321