Paediatric Autism Assessment Service
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.
For young people aged 18 or above, please speak to your family GP who can refer you to the adult assessment service at The Manygates Clinic, Wakefield.
Request an assessment
Professionals and agencies
Please complete the local Autism Assessment Referral Form (available to download below). This is a two-part referral and requires information from yourself as the initiator and from the child / young person's school. Please ensure that consent is sought from the adult with legal parental responsibility prior to submission.
Parents* and young people
If you believe that your child, young person or yourself (as the young person) may have autism or you are worried about social communication skills, you should discuss this with your 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).
The criteria for referral
A referral can be made if all of the following criteria is met:
- the child should be registered with a Barnsley GP
- the child or young person is under the age of 18 – if they have turned, or are about to turn 17, 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
An Early Help Assessment (EHA) should be initiated by a professional working with the family, if a GP agrees that autism is a diagnostic possibility.
The EHA plays an important part of addressing your child or young person’s, needs. It helps to:
- identify your child's strengths
- assess what difficulties your child may be having
- find out what additional support (if any) is needed and who would be the best person to offer this support
- support collating relevant evidence to support the need for an assessment
What does the assessment process involve?
There are five stages to being assessed via our team*:
- Initial Autism Assessment Clinic.
- Independent Communication Assessment - this is requested by our team.
- Update from educational setting - and other professionals who may be involved.
- Autism Assessment Conclusion and Feedback Meeting.
- Post Assessment follow-up appointment - and then discharged from the assessment pathway.
More detail about these steps will be provided to parents or carers when their child is accepted onto the assessment pathway.
*Please note: the above steps may vary depending on the individual case.
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 move forward with an assessment. Some children cope well without the need for a diagnosis.
Autism is a lifelong diagnosis. It is important to consider what this diagnosis could mean in the long term for young people as they move into adulthood, rather than focusing on the short term advantages only.
Referral form (for professional use only)
Notes to referrers:
- please ensure that you follow the guidance and checklist given at the start of the referral to avoid referrals being returned
- please do not give this form to parents to complete; this form is to be completed by professionals only
- the referral must be signed by parents and an active EHA in place with clear evidence of how the child’s needs have been addressed
- referrals are to be submitted in full – it is not the ASDAT teams responsibility to chase missing information, nor can we hold part referrals
- completed referrals should be returned to Barnsley.ASDAT@nhs.net
The form can be downloaded using the link below:
Accessing support and services
There is no treatment or cure available for autism. It is changes to routine, the environment and the way we communicate with autistic people that may help.
Below are a few ideas of what may be helpful following a diagnosis:
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.
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.
Support 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
The Barnsley Family Information Service is an excellent resource - 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 identifying 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
- information on the Children’s Disability Register
- a brokering service for parents and carers of children with disabilities, looking for childcare
We would recommend sourcing information from credible sources rather than unverified sources such as social media groups and forums. Credible sources of useful information that we recommend include:
- National Autistic Society
- Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA) Society
- The Challenging Behaviour Foundation
Post diagnosis booklets
Post diagnosis booklets are a useful resource, given to all parents following a diagnosis through our service. The booklets identify many services, charities and resources which can be accessed to support specific needs of a child.
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 shared 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 read about treatments not recommended for autism, on the national NHS website.