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

Relationship support for parents and co-parents

Research suggests that parents of children with behaviours that challenge experience higher levels of parental stress.

Parental stress, in turn, is associated with a higher risk of relationship distress and conflict, which in turn can affect outcomes for children.

Support for interparental relationships helps you think about how to manage stress, pull together as a team and communicate better.

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 flora@bristol.gov.uk with your name and phone number. The team will contact you as soon as possible.

You can also call FLORA on 0117 352 6020.

Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Independent Advice and Support Service (SENDIASS) Go to http://www.supportiveparents.org.uk (opens new window)

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 Go to https://youtu.be/54R4cDbX6L8 (opens new window) 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 Go to https://www.bristolparentcarers.org.uk/ (opens new window)

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 Go to https://www.carerssupportcentre.org.uk/our-services/parent-carers/ (opens new window)

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 Go to (opens new window)

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  Go to https://healthwatchbristol.co.uk/ (opens new window)

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

Bristol Autism Support Go to (opens new window) (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 Go to https://www.otrbristol.org.uk/parents-and-professionals/ (opens new window)

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) Go to https://fcdc.org.uk/ (opens new window)

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 Go to https://www.upsanddowns.net/ (opens new window)

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 Go to https://murmurationcommunitytherapy.weebly.com (opens new window)

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 Go to https://councilfordisabledchildren.org.uk/information-advice-and-support-services-network (opens new window).

Contact Go to https://contact.org.uk/ (opens new window)

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 Go to https://www.guidedogs.org.uk/services-we-provide (opens new window)

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 children@guidedogs.org.uk

Cerebra Go to http://www.cerebra.org.uk/ (opens new window)

Supports families with children aged under 17 affected by a neurological condition such as: 

  • neuro-genetic conditions
  • cerebral palsy
  • epilepsy
  • developmental delay
  • autism
  • ADHD
  • learning difficulties

Children's Education Advisory Service (CEAS) Go to https://www.gov.uk/government/groups/the-childrens-education-advisory-service-ceas (opens new window)

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

Sense Go to https://www.sense.org.uk/ (opens new window)

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.

ERIC Go to https://www.eric.org.uk/ (opens new window)

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 Go to https://www.ipsea.org.uk/ (opens new window)

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

Scope Go to https://www.scope.org.uk/family-services/ (opens new window)

Scope Navigate

Offers a phone service called Navigate Go to https://www.scope.org.uk/family-services/navigate/ (opens new window) 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 Go to http://www.scope.org.uk/disability-energy-support (opens new window).
Freephone: 0808 801 0828, Monday to Friday 11am to 4pm, excluding bank holidays.
Email: disability.energysupport@scope.org.uk.

GOV.UK Go to https://www.gov.uk/browse/disabilities (opens new window) 

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

Disabled Children's Partnership Go to https://www.mencap.org.uk/get-involved/campaign-mencap/disabled-childrens-partnership (opens new window)

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

AccessAble Go to (opens new window)

AccessAble publish accessibility information for places of interest in the UK and the Republic of Ireland. They have accessibility information about venues in Bristol Go to https://www.accessable.co.uk/organisations/bristol-city-council/access_guides (opens new window).

National Autistic Society Go to https://www.autism.org.uk/ (opens new window)

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

National Deaf Children's Society

Childhood deafness charity for every deaf child, no matter the child's level or type of deafness or how they communicate.

Provides free, independent support and information to:

  • parents and carers
  • deaf children and young people
  • extended family members
  • professionals

Provides opportunities to connect with other families and professionals through events, online forums and local groups.

Rainbow Trust Children's Charity Go to https://www.rainbowtrust.org.uk/ (opens new window)

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 07825 601 354 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.


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:

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