What services do we offer

Our Autism Spectrum Disorder Assessment Team (ASDAT) offers a specialist assessment and diagnosis service for children under the age of 18. As a specialist medical assessment service, we are unable to offer support, training or interventions for autism. Our role is to focus on assessing the child’s difficulties against the DSM-5 criteria for diagnosis and to rule out any other medical factors which may be causing these.

What is autism?

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a lifelong condition that affects a child/young person’s social communication and interaction skills. A child with ASD is likely to see and understand the world differently to their peers and struggle with certain social aspects of life. Please watch the short ‘Amazing Things Happen’ video below for more information on what autism is.

For further information about autism, please visit:

How to request an assessment?

Parents/carers: If you believe that your child/young person may have autism or you are worried about their social communication skills, you should discuss this with their health visitor, school nurse or GP. If your child attends a nursery or school, then you should also discuss this with the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENDCo).

An Early Help Assessment (EHA) should then be initiated by a professional working with you. The EHA plays an important part of addressing your child/young person’s needs. It helps identify what strengths and difficulties a your child may be having, what additional support (if any) is needed and who would be the best person to offer this support as well as collating relevant evidence to support the need for an assessment.

Professionals: Please complete the Autism Assessment Team Referral form, on the resources for professionals page. This is a two-part referral and requires information from yourself and from nursery/school.

Parents/carers cannot self-refer to the autism assessment team.

What are the criteria for referral?

  • The child should be registered with a Barnsley GP.
  • The child / young person is under the age of 18 – if you are about to turn 18, please contact us to discuss this before submitting a referral.
  • An Early Help Assessment (EHA) must be active and reasonable time allowed to fully address the child’s needs. The need for a referral to ASDAT should be identified in the EHA review once other causes for the difficulties have been ruled out. What is early help?
  • The family give written consent to the referral being made and to the data sharing agreement – Verbal consent cannot be accepted.

What does the assessment process involve?

  1. Your child is likely to be seen in a Social Communication Clinic by a Community Paediatrician.
  2. Supporting evidence will be sourced from other professionals, including school to form part of the assessment. We will normally request an assessment from a Specialist Speech and Language Therapist which normally takes place in the school setting for primary age children.
  3. Multi-disciplinary Team (MDT) meeting and feedback meeting.
  4. Post diagnosis follow-up appointment and then discharged from the assessment pathway.

For more information about each of these steps, please see our Patient Information Leaflet entitled ‘Understanding the Autism Assessment Process for Children (0-18yrs)’ in the resource section of this page.

Is the assessment compulsory?

No – If you feel that your child does not need to be assessed or if you feel the outcome will make no difference to your child’s development, then you do not have to have an assessment. Some children cope well without the need for a diagnosis.

Autism is a life long diagnosis therefore it is important to consider what this diagnosis could mean in the long term for young people who are moving into adulthood rather than focusing on just the hear and now.

Looking for additional support?

Identifying the need

It is important remember that every child is different and different children need different intervention to support their needs, some need none at all. It is also important there is no ‘one size fits all’ intervention – these need to be based on the individual therefore it is important to identify the needs of the child to then identify which service would be best to access for this need. The Early Help Process is a good way of assessing the needs of the child and the impact this has on the wider family.

Where to find help

There is no treatment or cure available for autism, it is the changes to routine, environment and the way we communicate that may help.

Below are a few ideas of what may be helpful following a diagnosis:

  • Workshops – Attending a post diagnosis workshop such as First Steps or Cygnet Programme is recommended as these sessions give an understanding of how a child with autism may see the world and their responses to the world around them. They also give parents the knowledge they need to support these needs.
  • School – We suggest meeting with the Special Educational Needs Coordinators (SENCo) at your child’s education setting to discuss what additional support, resources or reasonable adjustments can be offered.
  • Groups can be a good way to meet other parents who understand both the joys and the challenges of supporting a child with autism. These groups, if facilitated correctly can be a positive way of sharing support, tips and resources.
  • Barnsley Family Information Service is a fantastic contact as they hold a database of all local information, services, groups and events. In addition to this, they can also offer information on:
    • early help, family support and family centres
    • local and national services including support groups, organisations, charities, local activities and things to do
    • short breaks for children with disabilities, including help to apply for a short break and identify a suitable provider
    • childcare, including how to access funded childcare places for two-year olds in receipt of DLA
    • accessing health, social care, and education services for your child
    • the Children’s Disability Register
    • brokering service for parents/carers of children with disabilities looking for childcare
    • Visit Barnsley Family Information Services
  • Online resource – We would recommend sourcing information from credible sources rather than  unverified  sources  such  as  social  media  groups  and  forums.
  • Post diagnosis booklets are a useful resource  given to all parents following a diagnosed through our service. The booklets identifies many services, charities and resources which can been accessed to support specific needs of a child.
  • Parent resources – Selecting parent resources from the navigation bar on the left had side of this page will take you to a section of useful information and links.
  • Children’s Disability Team – For families of children with more severe and complex difficulties, they can contact the children’s disability team for a needs assessment.

Fake & harmful autism ‘treatments’

Unfortunately there is a lot of misinformation share through social media about treatments and cures for autism – the simple answer is, there aren’t any! It is important to understand that using such methods which have not been clinically trialled or tested nor have they been approved could cause harm to your child.

For more information on how to spot or report fake treatments, please click here.