Need help completing the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) application form?

When you first have this drop on your door mat, you will be forgiven for thinking ‘where on earth do I start?!’

Take a deep breath!

Firstly, this form is your opportunity to explain all the difficulties that your child has.

However, filling this in can often come with mixed emotions. On one hand, you are applying for something that you are likely to be entitled to which will help your child and your family, but on the flip side, it can be really hard to write down, what can be viewed, as the negatives. Also seeing all your child’s difficulties down in black and white can be emotive.

As parents, we like to try and focus on the positives and this goes somewhat against the grain, however, for this purpose you need to try and put your personal emotions to one side and focus on the task in hand.

Not many people love forms, I certainly don’t, but unfortunately this is just one of those things we gotta do!

The application form does come with a useful guidance, so please do read this! However, as I’ve recently had my daughter’s renewal through, I thought it may be useful to provide some additional tips as I work my way through ours. This is not intended to be used as a replacement for the DWP Guidance as I am just a mum sharing my thoughts!

I’m completing this as a parent of a child diagnosed with Autism, PDA, OCD, Multiple Anxiety Disorder, ODD, Mood Dysregulation and Depression. However, each child is naturally individual but hopefully some of this will be helpful to you.  

No Magic Wand UK’s Top Tips:

  • Complete each section as if it was worse-case scenario. Quite often, it’s tough to acknowledge how difficult things can be, however it is important, for this purpose, that you are able to explain just how difficult things can be
  • If it all feels too overwhelming, enlist the help of a friend or family member who knows your child well, they may be able to offer input
  • Make notes first before transferring your answers onto the application form. It may take a little longer, however you can then be clear in what you are saying
  • Write SMALL as the comments boxes really aren’t big enough and continue writing outside the box if necessary (I even found myself writing UP the page!)
  • There are no right or wrong answers, this is about YOUR child
  • Whilst the ‘Care’ component questions asks you to consider ‘day time’ to be ‘from the time your child gets up until the time you go to bed’, do consider whether you would indeed go to bed earlier if your child didn’t have these difficulties? If this is the case, then these should be viewed as ‘night time’ difficulties. You are only able to be awarded the ‘High’ rate Care component if your child needs help during the day and night
  • Even if you find you have answered ‘no’ to a question, you may still have something you wish to add in the comments box, so pop it in. For example, you may have ticked ‘able to physically walk’, within the ‘Mobility’ section, but then you may want to add in the comment box ‘may refuse to walk if in meltdown even though able to physically walk’ and go on to describe what that may look like
  • Brace yourself, it’s a very lengthy form, so allow a few days to complete, you don’t need to complete this all at once!

Additional (to the DWP Guidance) Tips:

  • The National Autistic Society have provided this useful article on ‘DLA for Children – the Mobility component’ which clearly sets out how the ‘Mobility’ criteria also now includes: ‘The severe mental impairment’ criteria. The ‘Mobility’ component is no longer assessed purely on physical disability and now looks at whether your child has a ‘state of arrested development which results in severe impairment of intelligence and social functioning’:

https://www.autism.org.uk/about/benefits-care/benefits/children/dla-mobility-component.aspx

(These following numbers relate to the numbering in the DLA Application Form)

  • #14 – insert the ‘lead’ professional’s details here and then include anyone else that your child may be seeing in #70
  • #16 – if this is your first application, include any assessments or tests that your child has either had or is waiting for. This could be a Psychiatric/Psychologist/Paediatric assessment, Occupational/Educational Psychology assessment, Therapy assessment, MRI scan, blood tests etc. If this is a renewal, include any updated reports or anything that you have since your last application. I personally have included older reports too, for example, the paediatrician’s report diagnosing PDA, as the Maudsley don’t recognise PDA so does not form part of their diagnostic report
  • #17 – list all the reports, letters and assessments which you have as supporting evidence. Also list these within #70 where you can include the dates on the reports
  • #22 – include any therapies, conference calls, risk assessment/monitoring appointments, medication you child may be on, any additional support in school, sensory diet etc. With regards to ‘how long have they had it?’, if you are unsure just estimate. Please note that this doesn’t mean the date you child received a diagnosis, it is more about when YOU, as the parent, first noticed the difficulties
  •  #23 – Here I included things like visual timetables, structured timetable at school to include sensory breaks, Zones of Regulation, personalised indoor and outdoor den, quiet room at school and land base, sensory diet, various regulatory aids (ipad, music, dance), home adaptations, warning sticker on car to warn other motorists that I may brake suddenly, gym ball, giant spinning top, exit card at school and ME when out and about

‘Mobility’ Section:

  • #34 – here, if applicable, you can mention why you believe your child meets the ‘severe mental impairment’ criteria within the ‘Mobility’ component. For example, explain, in detail, what behaviours your child displays when overloaded/overwhelmed/in meltdown. Also use the National Autistic Society link as guidance
  • #35 – include further information about the difficulties. For example, if school has ever deemed it unsafe to take your child offsite, safety of everyone whilst travelling, road safety or lack of it, vulnerability, awareness or lack of awareness of danger, disruptive behaviours, general ability to maintain friendships, whether your child needs physical restraint (this doesn’t necessarily mean full on restraint), appropriateness in public, how vigilant adults need to be, known triggers for your child and what can happen – give examples  

‘Care’ Section:

  • Throughout this section, when considering the ‘time spent helping your child’, think not only about the average amount of time but also the longest length of time that has been needed and write in the maximum
  • #37 – When thinking about the difficulties ‘getting in or out of bed’, also include any sensory difficulties, mood/emotions, triggers and behaviours as a result of triggers and write these in the comment box
  • #38 – if your child is able to use the toilet independently, they may struggle with their clothing for example so include what this may look like
  • #39 – whilst your child may be physically able to move around the house, consider how your child is if in meltdown and the behaviours they can present with
  • #40 – if you have a PDA’er, like myself, and these general hygiene routines are no longer adhered to on a daily basis due to the extreme behaviours insisting on these causes, then write this. Explain the behaviours that would present should you insist on these on a daily basis. Also, mention any difficulties that may occur when out and about too, for example taking your child swimming
  • #41 – whilst your child may be able to physically dress and undress themselves, your child may have, for example, sensory difficulties which causes problems, so include these and any behaviours they may present with
  • #42 – for my daughter, I ticked ‘no’ to this question, however I did add a comment about the difficulties we have with overeating and the behaviours that can be present as a result of trying to manage this
  • #43 – taking medication is overall not a problem for us, however this needs prompting and me to administer these, which I included in the comment box. However, sadly, suicidal ideology is present so I included something around this in my response about having to be hyper vigilant. I also included the difficulties around getting her to therapy, the preparation required and also the engagement difficulties
  • #45 – again, whilst it was a ‘no’ for us regarding ‘difficulty hearing’, I did add a comment about her sensory difficulties and the behaviours that can be present as a result
  • #47 – include here any information from a Speech and Language assessment, but also any difficulties with communication in social situations. Include any difficulties following instruction as well as difficulties with telling adults how they are feeling
  • #49 – include in the comments all behaviours and risks
  • #51 – with this question and in particularly the tick boxes, think about other factors that may impact these things, for example, your child may be able to independently go to the toilet but needs staff supervision to avoid confrontation with a peer, then note this by the question and tick the ‘yes’ box  
  • #52 – include within this question any difficulties ‘mood’ can make on ‘hobbies, interests, social or religious activities’. Also, include whether indeed your child is UNABLE, for example, to participate in clubs due to their anxieties

You are almost there!

  • #53 – don’t forget that ‘during the night’ is any time AFTER you would have liked to have been in bed!
  • #54 – this is your opportunity to reiterate the biggest challenges and the levels of supervision your child requires!
  • #55 – REMEMBER this date is about when you first noticed the difficulties, NOT when diagnosed!
  • #70 – You are probably all information’d out by this point! Check that you have covered everything in the previous sections, but if you feel you have anything else to add, include it here. I used this section to continue on from #14 regarding the ‘professionals seen (or continues to see), as well as listing all the supporting evidence (with dates) I was sending with my application

DON’T FORGET TO SIGN AND DATE YOUR APPLICATION IN SECTIONS #21 & #71!

Finally:

  • Make a note under ‘What to do now’ that your ‘supporting evidence’ is listed in #70 AND DON’T FORGET TO INCLUDE THE SUPPORTING EVIDENCE WITHIN YOUR APPLICATION!

Phew…you are done! And breathe! Now you just need to sit back and await the decision on your application!

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