Assessing your child's disability

You can refer your child directly to a children’s disability service or a primary care service. 

Access referral forms

An Assessment of Need is a separate legal process that is set out in the Disability Act 2005.

An Assessment of Need is not necessary to access health services.

An Assessment of Need as outlined in the Disability Act 2005 will identify your child's health needs and what services are required to meet your child's needs.

A person must be born after 1st June 2002 to be assessed. An application for an Assessment of Need can be made by a parent, legal guardian or personal advocate.

A young person aged 16 or 17 years can apply for their own Assessment of Need.

Usually, a team will assess your child and identify their health needs. Some children will be assessed by one person. The Assessment Officer will decide if your child needs a team assessment or an individual assessment.

You will receive an assessment report. The assessment report will provide you with information on the health and education needs of your child. You will also receive a list of the services your child needs.

Applying for an Assessment of Need

To apply for an assessment, you can fill in the Assessment of Need application form and send it to your local Assessment Officer.

After you send in your application form you will receive a letter confirming receipt within two weeks. Your Assessment Officer may contact you for more information about your child that will help to show the nature and level of difficulty experienced by your child. If the Assessment Officer is satisfied that your child needs an assessment they must arrange this referral within 3 months of receiving your completed application. Once this referral is made there will be a further 3 months to assess your child and complete the Assessment Report.  In some cases, there may be a delay for clinical reasons or due to exceptional circumstances such as illness or bereavement in your family. 

The Assessment Officer will contact you to discuss any delay in the process.

The Assessment of Need is undertaken in line with the same standards across the country. A copy of these standards can be obtained from your Assessment Officer.

Service Statement

The Assessment Officer will provide the Assessment Report. If the assessment report states your child has a disability, it will be sent to your Liaison Officer.

The Liaison Officer will prepare a Service Statement for you. You will receive the Service Statement within 1 month of the completed assessment. The Service Statement will list health services and supports that will be provided to your child. You will receive your child's Assessment Report and Service Statement at the same time.

If the assessment report states your child does not have a disability, then the Assessment Report is sent directly to you and you do not receive a Service Statement.

Complaints procedure

Special complaints and appeals procedure are available if you are unhappy with your child's Assessment of Needs or service statement. You can use this process if:

  • the Assessment Officer decides that your child does not meet the definition of disability and you disagree
  • your child's assessment was not started or completed within the time-frames specified. Your child's assessment must be started as soon as possible but no later than three months from the date of receipt of your completed application form. Once started, it must be completed within a further three months from the date of commencement.
  • you believe that your child’s assessment was not carried out in line with the standards for assessment
  • you believe that the content of your child's Service Statement is inaccurate or incorrect.
  • your child has not received a service that is detailed in his or her Service Statement

You can make a complaint at within 3 months of the date on which you became aware of the cause of the complaint

If your complaint is about the assessment process, please contact the Assessment Officer. If the complaint is about the Service Statement, please contact the Liaison Officer. They should be your first point of contact to seek a resolution.

If you are still not happy and wish to escalate your complaint you can contact the Disability Complaints Officer. You can ask the Assessment Officer or Liaison Officer for a form to complete. This form also lists the grounds on which you can make a complaint. The form, when completed, needs to be returned to the Complaints Officer. The Complaints Officer is an independent body. This means that the Complaints Officer will look at your complaint objectively and fairly.

You can also contact the Complaints Officer directly on 045 880 400 or by e-mail to

What if I am unhappy with the outcome of my complaint?

If you are unhappy with the findings and recommendations of the Complaints Officer you can appeal to the Disability Appeals Officer. If the HSE has not acted on the recommendations of the Complaints Officer, you can appeal to the Disability Appeals Officer or you can go to the Circuit Court to seek an enforcement order.  An information leaflet and an application form for this appeals process will always be included in the Complaints Officer’s final report.

The Disability Appeals Officer is independent and is appointed by the Minister for Health. The Appeals Officer is not part of the HSE. For more information about making an appeal, contact the Disability Appeals Office on 1800 211 583

Further Reading