Referral guideline – Developmental and learning difficulties


Developmental and/or learning difficulties which are impacting on a child’s everyday functioning.

GP management

  • Obtain history from parents/carers regarding concerns, onset and course of symptoms, developmental progression, family history of developmental problems, and collateral information from school/child care if available. See Milestones (Queensland Health)
  • Refer to Red Flags Early Intervention Guide for Children 0-5 years
  • Hearing and vision assessment essential. (Basic audiology and visual acuity/eye health only – NOT behavioural optometry or auditory processing assessment)
  • Consider Parents Evaluation of Developmental Status questionnaire (PEDS) as a way of eliciting parental concern.
  • Provide any supporting information or previous reports from medical specialists or agencies including Child and Youth Mental Health Service (CYMHS), allied health professionals or school.

When to refer

Children present with developmental and/or learning difficulties which are impacting on their everyday functioning. Red flags present at any age. Refer early – do not wait.

Other Referral Options

  • If primary emotional disorder (e.g. severe anxiety/depression) refer to Child and Youth Mental Health.
  • If main concern is attention difficulties without other developmental concerns, refer to Private psychologist, General Paediatric Outpatient Department or Private paediatrician.
  • If main concern is behavioural difficulties without other developmental concerns, refer to Positive Parenting Program (PPP), private psychologists or other community organisations.

Essential referral info

  • Clinical Concern or Question (problem to be addressed, history of presenting concerns, suspected diagnosis, parental concerns).
  • Relevant Developmental History (summary of developmental progression, consider: speech and language, cognition/learning/attention, fine and gross motor, social emotional/play/behaviour, self-care).
  • Relevant Medical/Surgical History (General health, antenatal or perinatal factors such as drug/alcohol exposure, pre-term delivery or low birth weight).
  • Relevant Social/Family History (parental relationship issues, mental illness, substance abuse, parental disability, family in crisis, Child Protection involvement, literacy/language considerations for parent/carer or other relevant information).
  • Recent Investigations or Assessments (Hearing and Vision test reports, Medical and/or allied health reports).

Parent service

Child Development Program

Contact details

Child Development Program Clinical Access Service
The Clinical Access Service is also the first point of contact for GPs and other health providers wanting to know more about the Child Development Program, including referral processes.
t: 1300 731 805

Child Health Service
Hospital Switchboard

(Ask for the general paediatric registrar)
t: 07 3068 1111 


Parents’ evaluation of development status (PEDS)
Personal Health Record (red book)
For health professionals – Child Development Program Referral Form
Red Flags Early Identification Guide (for children aged birth to five years). Second Edition