SEND Children's Dietetic Service

Our specialist dietitians offer advice to parents and carers of children and young people with special education needs and disabilities (SEND) to support with diet and nutritional concerns. These include any concerns about a child or young person’s growth, restricting what they eat and/or concerns with weight gain or obesity.

How our dietitians can support you and your child

We offer advice and provide strategies to support you including:

  • Nutritional advice such as healthy eating, portion sizes, appropriate volumes of fluids and adding oral nutritional supplements

  • Ways to fortify food to provide the energy or nutrients needed

  • Healthy lifestyle behaviours

  • Referrals to other community health services to support you and your family. 

What happens at your first appointment?

You will have an initial assessment appointment with one of our SEND dietitians.

Before your appointment it is helpful to keep a food diary, writing down everything your child is eating and drinking over three days. We will discuss the different foods and drinks the child is consuming in detail during the first appointment.

We may suggest further appointments, depending on your child’s needs. On some occasions we may arrange to see you and your child at school.

Who can be referred?

We see children and young people who have a GP in the borough of Lewisham, or they attend a special educational needs school in the borough of Lewisham.

Who can refer to our service?

Children and young people can be referred to our service by any professional working with them and their family. This includes, but is not limited to, GPs, nurses, speech and language therapists, occupational therapists, and social workers.

When to see your GP or healthcare professional to discuss a referral

  • Is a child losing weight or failing to grow?

If a child is not gaining weight or growing in height this sometimes has health consequences. If you have any concerns about a child who is not gaining weight, has lost weight, or is not growing as expected, please speak to your healthcare professional such as your GP who can decide if referral to our service Is appropriate.

  • Is a child eating an extremely limited range of foods?

It is common for children with social communication disorders such as autism to restrict what they are willing to eat. For example, a child might eat fewer than 20 different foods and may exclude one or more food group (eg protein, dairy, fats, carbohydrates, or fruit and vegetables). Sometimes children take a long time to make small changes to their eating even when following professional advice.

If a child is upset by new foods or changes to their favourite foods such as other food touching it or a change in the texture or taste – their reactions can become extreme, and food can cause a lot of anxiety for the child. A child might be at risk of becoming ill from not eating or drinking enough. Some children may experience nutritional deficiencies, dental decay, dehydration, and severe constipation. If you have any concerns with a child who has a self-restricted dietary intake, please speak to a healthcare practitioner such as your GP who can decide if referral to our service Is appropriate.

Our specialist dietitians support children and young people who have very restrictive diets, including those with a diagnosis of avoidant restrictive feeding intake disorder (ARFID).

  • Is a child gaining too much weight?

If a child is gaining weight too quickly this can lead to other health conditions including obesity. Gaining too much weight may also increase a child’s risk of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and strokes. It can also impact a child’s self-esteem and mental health particularly where a child experiences negative comments or bullying. If you are concerned that a child is overweight and this is impacting their health and wellbeing, please speak to a healthcare practitioner such as the GP who can decide if referral to our service Is appropriate.

For professionals

Please see our detailed referral criteria.

If you want to refer a child to our service, please send a completed referral form to

Contact details

Phone: 020 3049 1231


Phone: 020 3049 1231 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm)