Referral Criteria – Sleep Problems

Children and young people with additional support needs (including children and young people with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder), are far more likely to have serious sleep problems than other children. They may not settle, or they may wake early or often throughout the night. They might be very noisy or distressed, and sometimes cannot be left unattended. Often parents have to sleep in shifts for months or years. Sleep deprivation can have a devastating effect on the whole household.

Conditions in scope

The Children’s Community Learning Disabilities Team will accept requests for service for:

  • Children and young people up to 18 years of age, registered with a Devon GP, who have a diagnosis of profound, severe (or moderate, where there are child protection issues) learning disabilities, including those children and young people who have acquired this status

Requests will be considered for:

  • Children and young people who have been identified as having a cognitive impairment which is severe or profound and which limits educational and practical development
  • Children and young people attending other special schools or attending mainstream provision (or attached units) with a Statement of Special Educational Needs (or Education, Health Care plan equivalent), dependent upon the child/young person’s level of learning disability, the level of functional impairment and the nature and severity of the presenting problem.

Exclusion Criteria

Requests for service will not be accepted for children and young people with:

  • Mild learning disability
  • Higher functioning Autism Spectrum Conditions (i.e. average or above average intelligence),
  • Acquired head or brain injury
  • Issues that are school based only, where the family does not require support – these should be supported by educational services such as Educational Psychology and Behaviour Support services

Consideration will be given on a case by case basis in regard to specific syndromes that do not necessarily mean there is an associated learning disability.

The requester should first consider appropriate mainstream services that would better meet the child/young person’s needs or provide the evidence that the child/young person’s disorder meets the criteria.

For example, if a child/young person with a learning disability presents with possible mental health problems, then a request should be made via the Single Point of Access (SPA) to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).

There are times when it might be more appropriate for a child or young person to access mainstream services, such as school and public health nursing, in line with the guidance around inclusive practices.

Pre-request requirements

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 making your request:

  • It is important that the child/young person has been seen in person and assessed by the person making the request for service
  • Prior attempts have already been made by frontline staff to resolve the child/young person’s difficulties with mainstream support, and that evidence of this is included along with the formal request
  • Formal consent has been obtained for someone with legal parental responsibility for the child before a request is made
  • Information from the person making the request regarding what has been discussed/is needed to support the child, young person and/or family to engage with the service (see Request for Services form)

Please read and share our Sleep Hygiene information before considering making a request. If you feel a request is still needed please request a Sleep Assessment via the Single Point of Access (SPA). The parents will be asked to complete sleep diaries prior to being offered a first appointment.

How can I help the young person before making a referral?

Children and young people with learning disabilities who need support with their sleep behaviour can be referred to the Learning Disabilities team who will undertake a Sleep Assessment.

Please also ask parents to review the information for them on this website about Sleep Problems and provides information and advice for parents to support their child while they are waiting for a referral and an appointment. It is helpful if the family can download and read the Sleep Hygiene information, and complete a sleep diary, from the same page.


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