Portage is for families who have a child with SEND (learning difficulties, special needs, neurodiversity or significant developmental delay/social or communication issues) who are aged 0 – 3 1/2 years. Support is given to the family in the form of regular home visits, teaching the parents and carers how best to help their child learn, grow and develop.

Portage Plus is a specialist home and nursery-based teaching service for children over 3 years old to starting school age, displaying significant difficulties with social interaction and communication or has a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Portage Plus is offered weekly for 12 sessions.

Portage home visitors work in partnership with parents and/or carers to support the child’s learning at home and in some circumstances the early years setting the child attends. Parents are empowered to make a difference to their child and given support in other matters that may impact on their parenting and enjoyment of their child.

Portage visitor and parents together plan developmental goals in areas such as learning, communication, relationships and movement. Parents learn how to combine learning new skills through play and integrating therapies i.e., physiotherapy, occupational therapy or speech therapy where appropriate.

Portage is a citywide service with an open referral process so anyone may refer.

Coaching model

A coaching model is used with parents and carers including foster carers, childminders and extended family. Teaching activities or strategies are used and integrated into the families’ daily routines or the routines of the child’s natural environment. In addition, it is vital to be including and combining the other therapies the child is receiving. The interventions may include strategies to support the child in participating in family activities or the activities of the childcare setting/other environment. Weekly teaching activities modelled on visits are left for parents to practice until the portage visitor returns.

Every child is assessed in all areas of development using a range of assessment tools, including those relating to the EYFS; gross and fine motor, speech, language and communication, cognition and learning (knowledge and understanding of the world), self-care and independence (personal, social and emotional development), literacy, mathematics and creative skills. Hearing or vision issues are included as well as sensory processing difficulties.

Portage Plus is a more structured intervention that takes place in the home and in the child’s early years setting. The focus is on social and communication difficulties e.g., children who may go on get a diagnosis of ASD. This is for children from 3 years to starting school age. A weekly teaching session takes place in the home over 12 sessions and during this time visits can also be made to the early years setting the child attends. Strategies for Portage Plus include PECS, intensive interaction, TEACCH, Makaton, Identiplay, visual rewards systems etc.

Portage training

The Portage team deliver training on aspects of working and supporting children with SEND or with ASD/ND profile and offer the accredited National Portage Association workshop.

Visit the Traded Services website for further information.

Further information: