Autism Spectrum Assessment Service

The Special School Nurse Service provides a responsive and high standard of nursing care for children with complex health needs who attend special schools across Devon.

The Autism Spectrum Assessment Service provides diagnosis and help for children and young people up to 18 years of age suspected of being on the Autism Spectrum.

We assess children and young people and provide advice regarding post-diagnostic support.

Please see below for referral information or visit our referral criteria page.

Support available:

  • Exeter, Mid and East Devon
  • Northern and Torridge
  • Okehampton
  • West Devon
  • South Hams excl. Dartmouth and Totnes
  • South Hams incl. Dartmouth and Totnes
  • Teignbridge

  • Exeter, Mid and East Devon
  • Northern and Torridge
  • Okehampton
  • West Devon
  • South Hams excl. Dartmouth and Totnes
  • South Hams incl. Dartmouth and Totnes
  • Teignbridge

  • Referral Criteria – Autistic Spectrum Disorder

The Autism Spectrum Assessment Service consists of multi-disciplinary teams serving young people across the county.

The virtual, multi-disciplinary ASD teams are made up of the following professionals:

  • Specialist Speech and Language Therapist
  • Paediatrician and/or Psychiatrist
  • Specialist Autism Spectrum Practitioner
  • Clinical Psychologist

We also have access to the following professionals:

  • Educational Psychologist
  • Learning Disability Nurse
  • Occupational Therapist
  • Social Workers
  • Assistant Psychologist
  • Specialist Nurse
  • Occupational Therapist
  • Specialist Teachers

Diagnostic assessment

The diagnostic assessment contains:

  • Detailed paediatric and or psychiatric assessment (including physical and medical investigations)
  • Developmental, diagnostic and dimensional Interview (3di). A detailed structured interview with parents focusing on the CYP current presentation and developmental history
  • Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) usually done by two clinicians working with the child in a series of guided play and storytelling activities. The actual activities vary according to the age of the child.

Further assessments

The following assessments may be used if more information is required and will depend on individual needs of the child or young person:

  • Individual speech and language profile/assessment
  • Individual cognitive assessment
  • Educational psychology assessment
  • Observation of CYP across different settings, including school, home and clinic settings
  • More detailed developmental/ social history
  • Review of information across health, education and social care
  • Consideration of sensory processing needs

Formulation of the diagnosis is done at a multi-disciplinary team meeting where all aspects of the assessment process are considered before an outcome is agreed. The outcome is then discussed with the family and also with the child/young person where appropriate.

It is usual that a school meeting is arranged to discuss the outcome of the assessment and recommendations for support. The assessment aims to comply with NICE Guidance.

Guidance and helpful information

All children and young people being considered for an ASD assessment will require a medical assessment, which will be undertaken by a paediatrician or psychiatrist, depending on the primary needs of the child or young person, prior to being accepted onto the pathway.

Where children are already supported by level 3 services (including a Statement of Special Educational Needs or Education and Health Care Plan (EHCP)) we require copies of their existing statement/plan, previous assessments undertaken, analysis of the impact achieved from any interventions implemented to date together with the name of the child’s lead professional (or key worker).

This is in order to:

  • Make informed decisions regarding the need for specialist assessment
  • Ensure that children do not receive repeat assessments unnecessarily
  • Ensure that outcomes from specialist assessments feed into the support network/plan currently in place for the child and their family


Click here for more information on the Autism Assessment Pathway.

For further information please see the referral criteria page.

What is the process?