Autism Spectrum Disorder
Following an assessment with a Community Paediatrician your child may be referred on for an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnostic assessment with CAMHS.
This is a specialist assessment carried out by a multidisciplinary team. Your child may be seen jointly by a paediatrician, Speech and Language therapist, psychologist, education psychologist or complex needs nurse or your child may be seen by the SLT and complex needs nurse first and then a follow up appointment will be carried out with the paediatrician to feedback the assessment findings.
The assessment involves one member of the team, talking with you and finding out about:
- your concerns, and those of your child if appropriate
- how your child has been getting on at home, in nursery or school, or in care
- your child’s past and present health, and that of the family
- your child’s behaviour and development
- observe your child
When the members of the team have completed their assessment they use all the information from the assessment, the information you have given them and any information from your child’s school/preschool or other professionals who work with your child to help them come to a decision about whether your child may have an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
- If your child is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder
You will be told at the assessment if your child meets the criteria for a diagnosis of ASD. The team will explain more about autism spectrum disorder and how it might affect your child.
You will also be given information about the support you and your child can get in your local area. For example, you may be given contact details for support groups that can give you the opportunity to meet other families with experience of ASD, and advice about other services that are available.
There is no specific medication or treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorder. The key to achieving the best outcome for your child is the understanding of your child’s needs and managing them appropriately by the people who spend the most amount of time with the child. This will be family members and school staff. You will be offered different courses to attend to help you achieve this. It is important you attend the recommended courses to help you understand your child and diagnosis better.
The team will share information from the assessment with your child’s GP, and if you agree, with other professions such as your child’s school or other professionals if appropriate, to help them offer you the support you need.
A member of the team should talk to you (and your child, if appropriate) about all of this, soon after the assessment, and give you a written report explaining the findings of the assessment.
- If the diagnosis is uncertain
Sometimes there can be uncertainties when diagnosing autism spectrum disorder and it may not be possible to be definite about the diagnosis. If this happens the team will talk to you about what happens next. This may be that they will see your child again after an agreed period of time or they may refer your child to another team that can help.
- If your child does not have autism spectrum disorder
A member of the team will explain why your child doesn’t have ASD and may offer to refer you to other specialists (for example, child health services or child and adolescent mental health services, also known as CAMHS), if they think they may be able to help.
Please note: The demand for this clinical assessment is very high so at present the average time for this assessment to be completed is 18 months to 2 years. We are working to reduce this waiting time and understand that this period of waiting can be a difficult time. It is important to know that you can access support and resource workshops while you are waiting for an appointment and that a diagnosis is not required to access this support.
- Support you may find helpful while you wait for an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) assessment for your child
We know waiting for an assessment or diagnosis can be a really worrying time, but it’s important to know you can access support while you are waiting. Your child does not need a diagnosis of autism for you to receive this support.
Help at home
If you need support then the following services are available:
- Health Visiting Service (0 to 5 years)
The Health Visiting Team can provide support and confidential health advice. They can advise you on your child’s growth and development
- behaviour difficulties such as, sleeping, eating, potty training and temper tantrums
- healthy eating, hygiene, safety and exercise
- School Health Service (primary and secondary-aged children and young people)
The School Health Service provides support for a variety of health issues and will refer to specialist services, when needed. These include:
- daytime and night time wetting and soiling
- behaviour management
- healthy eating and lifestyle
- emotional health and wellbeing
- puberty and growing up
- sexual health
- stopping smoking
- drug and alcohol misuse
- Early Help Service
This service can offer support if:
- you are worried about your child’s behaviour
- you are struggling to cope
- you are worried about your family finances
- your child is struggling to cope with bereavement
- your child is being bullied
- your child refuses to go to school or college
- you or your child want to develop new friends and have new experiences
- you are having difficulties with family relationships
You can get in touch with the Early Help Triage Team by your child’s GP or preschool/school making a referral on your behalf. You can also access them by doing a self referral.
- Extra help at preschool or school
If your child is at a preschool or school then you can talk to your child’s key person (in preschool) or teacher about any concerns you may have. If there are concerns about your child’s development or progress then the keyworker/teacher or possibly the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCo) should speak to you about this. They will share with you what strategies they have already put in place to support your child and talk to you about the impact of this on their progress.
The trust nurse for people with Learning Disabilities and/or Autism, is Emma Houghton. She can be contacted via our switchboard on 01704 547471 or by calling our safeguarding team on 01704 705248.
- Useful websites
Autism Spectrum Database (ASD) UK
It is important to remember your child may not have ASD and their difficulties with social communication and interaction may be due to a different reason. However, some of the strategies and advice on these websites may still be useful.
- Support Groups:
- Facebook: West Lancs Autism Parent and carer support group
- West Lancs Parenting support group: for parents of ‘differently wired’ children. Meet 3rd Friday each month 11am at Twinkle House – WN8 9UP contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Divine Days Creative Arts – www.divinedays.co.uk Email: email@example.com
- The Out-of-Sync Child – Carol Kranowitz
- All my stripes: a story for children with Autism – Shaina Rudolph & Danielle Royer
- The Asperkid’s (secret) book of social rules – Jennifer Cook O’Toole
- Autism, the invisible cord: a Siblings diary – Barbara Cain
- A friend like Simon – Kate Gaynor
- It’s Raining Cats and Dogs – An Autism spectrum guide to the confusing world of idioms, metaphors and every day expressions – Michael Barton
- A Different Kettle of Fish: A Day in the Life of a Physics Student with Autism – Michael Barto
Useful Information for Adults
Sleepy time Group
- Autsim podcast and mental health blog
I’m a young adult who is on the Autistic Spectrum. I also have Dyspraxia and anxiety. I recently co-planned and co-delivered professional Autism training sessions across different locations in England from January to March 2020. This training was co-produced by NHS England and the National Children’s Bureau (NCB). I delivered the training with support throughout in partnership with Isabelle Garnett, an Autism parent consultant, and Rosalind Hardy, my Autistic friend and training colleague.
Last year, from August to November 2019, I also planned and co-delivered various training sessions in partnership with NCB staff and Rosalind about the importance of engaging with children and young people with disabilities.
I’ve recently created a podcast in partnership with the NCB about my personal experiences of Autism. Please click here to listen.
Rosalind has also created a podcast about her personal experiences of growing up and living with Autism. Click here to listen.
I’ve also written a blog about my personal experiences of mental health and anxiety. You can read it here.
Both me and Rosalind are also featured in an exciting national publication which showcases a variety of young people’s inspiring stories and achievements. You can find me on page 42. Rosalind is featured on page 45. Click here to read.
I hope this information is helpful.