What is the process?
Many children who exhibit autistic spectrum conditions may also have specific language disorders, sensory processing difficulties, and emotional or mental health difficulties alongside of this. We will be carrying out a detailed assessment using evidence-based standards to help you and those who work with your child to best support them as they grow up. 30% of children who go through this process (known as ‘the pathway’) are not diagnosed with autism however the assessment process will help provide information and advice which will assist you in the future. We know you may have been on a journey just to get to this point but please bear with us as you go through the pathway as each stage is designed to ensure that we get the best outcome for your child.
Click on the headings below to reveal the details behind each step of the pathway.
Step One – Request for an assessment
Ideally, your request will arrive with us on a Request for Services form, and contain as much information as possible about your child.
We would normally expect that an Educational Psychology report completed by your child’s school would be sent to us with your request, and a ‘Devon Graduated Response’ (DGR) document too. You should also send any other assessment reports completed recently. This might include Paediatrician Reports, Speech and Language Therapy Assessments and so on.
You should also send us a completed consent form, as this allows us to gather further information from other health, education and social care providers as we need to – without asking you for permission each time.
Finally, please also complete our ASD Screening Questionnaires before making your request. This provides us with essential information.
Step Two – Review of all information received
Once your request has been received by us we will check if any information is missing and request this from you or other agencies. We will also check what information we have already from any previous or ongoing support from the other services we provide.
This information is then screened by one of our Specialist Practitioners to ensure it is an appropriate referral for our service. If it is not appropriate then we will let you, and the professional who referred you to us, know why.
Step Three – Request for a Paediatric assessment
If you have not had any recent involvement with a paediatrician the next step is for us to request this from your local hospital. This is to ensure there are no underlying physical health issues that may be impacting on your child’s behaviour. Your local hospital is likely to have its own waiting list for this assessment.
We will copy you into this request to keep you informed of the progress of your referral. When the paediatric assessment is returned to us we will make a final decision regarding accepting you for the next stage. Very few children and young people will be rejected at this stage.
Step Four - Diagnostic assessment
Once we have received the paediatric assessment, you will be informed in writing that your child has been placed on the waiting list for an autistic spectrum assessment. You will then be contacted by the autistic spectrum team offering a date for you and your child to attend an autistic spectrum assessment clinic. You will receive written confirmation detailing the date time and venue of clinic.
The clinic will include a parent interview and a separate child/young person assessment. The assessments that we use are:
- The Developmental, Diagnostic and Dimensional Interview (3di). This is a detailed structured interview with parents/carers focusing on the child or young person’s current presentation and developmental history.
- The Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS). This is usually administered by one clinician 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 information about these assessments will be explained to you ahead of the meeting. The appointment will last up to two hours including some feedback from the assessment.
If the assessments give a clear indication that your son/daughter is on the Autism Spectrum then you will be given a provisional diagnosis at the end of the clinic where you will be able to ask further questions. Your child’s assessment may need to be discussed at a Multidisciplinary team meeting before it is finalised.
Step Five – MDT (Multidisciplinary team meeting)
This meeting discusses the results of assessments; confirming/declining a diagnosis or requesting further specialist assessment to support the assessment process. This could be a Speech and Language assessment, a Developmental Assessment or a Cognitive Assessment. We may also wish to observe your child in a different setting, such as in school or at home.
The team will only request further assessments where they feel that they do not have enough information to make a diagnosis. We’ll inform you if this happens. Once the extra assessments have been completed your son’s/daughter’s case will be discussed at MDT again and a final decision will be taken.
Step Six – Final report
This report will be written following the multi-agency team meeting. The report will summarise the results of the assessments along with diagnosis if appropriate, along with some broad recommendations. The report will be sent to you and any other professionals involved with your child.
Step Seven – Parent workshop
Following our final report, you will be offered the opportunity to attend a workshop to learn more about Autism. This is currently being offered online, with the option of a follow-up phonecall or online drop-in.
Children and Family Health Devon
Single Point of Access Team
1a Capital Court
Sowton Industrial Estate
Exeter EX2 7FW
t: 0330 0245 321