Children's Specialist Services

We are a team of advisory teachers, children's therapists, and children and family support workers. 

We provide expert advice and information to children and young people who are deafblind or have sensory impairments, their families, carers, and to professionals who work with them. 

We also provide support in the home, at school, or at our family centres.

Watch our subtitled film showcasing the services we provide for children and families.

Who do we help?

Our service is for children and young people aged 0 - 18 years who are deafblind or multi-sensory impaired (MSI), regardless of their diagnosis. We also continue to work with young people who are still in a school setting, until the academic year in which they turn 19.

When we talk about deafblind or MSI children we mean:

  • Children who have difficulties with sight and hearing and sometimes learning or other additional disabilities
  • Children who have medical conditions that are likely to cause problems with sight and hearing as they grow older – for example Usher syndrome

Also – although they would not be described as being deafblind – we can often offer some support to the families of children who have problems with either hearing or vision, combined with learning or other additional disabilities.

If you are not sure, please get in touch.

Our core offer of support to families

This is the service that we will provide to every child or young person who are deafblind or have sensory impairments living in England, Wales and Northern Ireland:  

  • We will get in touch within two working days from when a family first contacts Sense
  • Each family will meet a member of the team within eight weeks of first getting in touch with us
  • Each family will have their own personal case worker
  • Each family will have the opportunity to attend at least one family event per year
  • We will keep in touch with families through an annual contact

"We've built up a long history and knowledge of deafblindness – the strategies and interventions that are most appropriate to support people - so that people who are deafblind or have sensory impairments are able to become independent individuals."

Steve Rose, Head of Children's Specialist Services.

Sense support packages

A young woman with glasses smiling

We know there are times in a child or young person's life when their families will need more support – like when they are starting school, changing schools or moving into adulthood. Our team can provide extra support at these key times, or if families are having difficulties.

We have also developed a range of support packages that reflect families' need for additional contact:

Opening DoorsSupport for when a child first receives an identification of deafblindness or multi-sensory impairment. We can offer practical ideas about how to develop the child's skills, advice on suitable play activities and help parents to communicate more effectively with their child.

Tuning InHelping parents and carers to develop effective ways of communicating with their pre-school child. We work with small groups of families to help them become more confident in communicating with their child and to find new ways in which they can 'tune in' to what their child is trying to tell them.

Direct SupportOur team offers additional support for families struggling to cope or experiencing particular problems associated with their child's deafblindness or multi-sensory impairment.

Supporting children in hospitalSupporting families by helping hospital staff understand the needs of their deafblind or multi-sensory impaired child.

Getting a ResultWe work with young people and their families to help them plan for adulthood in a way that ensures they are able to make an active choice about their future and feel more in control of their life.

Other types of support we offer are:

  • Parent and carer groups - to help families meet, share information and receive support (currently only available in some areas)
  • Events - we run a range of family day events across England, Wales and Northern Ireland throughout the year.  These are a chance to meet our team and for families to chat, play and have fun
  • Toy libraries - each of our family centres has a library of resources for parents to borrow giving them the chance to try out a range of sensory toys to see what their child best responds to
  • Assessments - our team carry out holistic assessments that look at the child as a whole and focus on their abilities and how they can be developed further. We can also help with formal assessments as part of the SEN (special educational needs) statementing process

Some of our work with children and families is paid for by our supporters' donations. Where a local authority (or other body) has a legal duty to provide a service – for example, an assessment for an SEN statement, monitoring by a qualified MSI teacher or deafblind guidance assessment – we would not provide that service from charitable funds.

However, local authorities may wish to commission us to undertake such work. There may also be times when families need more support, such as intervenors in the home, or consultancy support in school.

Families (or the professionals working with them) can commission services from us by using direct payments or personal budgets

Intervenors in Action DVD

Do you know what an intervenor does? Do you know who intervenors work with? The Children's Specialist Services team at Sense have produced a new DVD called Intervenors in Action to answer these and other questions about intervenors.

What you can expect from us

The team strives to provide a high standard of service at all times. We recognise that each child is an individual, with their own potential and challenges, and we need to find the best way to help them.

We aim to work closely in partnership with families and the professionals supporting their child.  We will ensure that both families and professionals have the information they need, including information about rights and the help that may be available to families – not just the services which are provided by Sense.

Getting in touch

To find out more please contact Sense's Information and Advice service who will ensure you are put in touch with the right team:

Tel: 0300 330 9256 or 020 7520 0972
Textphone: 0300 330 9256 or 020 7520 0972
Fax: 0300 330 9251


Related links

Training calendar

RNIB has information on a wide range of issues that are important to blind and partially sighted young people.

First published: Wednesday 30 May 2012
Updated: Monday 14 November 2016