Autism assessment

Autism is a lifelong, developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with and relates to other people, and how they experience the world around them (National Autistic society), it is often referred to as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Autism assessment

  • What can I do if I think my child has Autism
  • What help and support is available if you have concerns about your child’s development or think they may have autism?
  • How are children assessed for Autism

This video explains a little about what autism is and how it affects people:

Amazing things happen video

What can I do If I think that my child has autism?

We have developed this pathway to enable the right services to be provided, at the right time, by the right person, to improve outcomes for children, to use resources effectively and to avoid duplication.

If you are concerned about your child’s development or behaviour and you would like to talk to someone, you can contact:

  • Your health visitor
  • Staff at your local children's centre
  • Staff at their nursery (their teacher, key person or the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCo)
  • Your childminder

They will discuss your concerns and offer advice and support. If your child needs further assessment they may be referred to a speech and language therapist or to the Specialist Children and Young People's Service (SCYPS).


What help and support is available if you have concerns about your child's development or think they may have autism?

There are services provided in the local area to support children's speech, language and social skills.

  • Your health visitor can provide advice and guidance on areas such as toileting, sleep or managing behaviour
  • Newham's Children's Centres offer services to support all children to have the best start in life we would encourage you to attend your local children’s centre with your child. Children’s centres run targeted stay and play sessions with a greater focus on supporting children’s development. Family support workers can provide support and guidance and can refer on to other agencies if necessary. These include ‘messy play’ and ‘fun with food’ sessions.
  • Little Champions is a drop in stay and play session for children with SEND, for further details contact your local children's centre
  • If you would like to find out about a nursery places for your child please follow this link
  • If your child attends a nursery you may be invited to a Ready, Steady, Play session. These screening play sessions run weekly in four children’s centres in Newham. Staff from Private, Voluntary and Independent (PVI) nurseries can refer children that may have a delay in their learning, development or their speech, language and communication skills. Parents can come and meet a member of the team, discuss their child’s needs and hear about strategies that could be used at home or at nursery. Referrals to other agencies can be made if necessary.
  • Advice, support and guidance from the nursery or setting SENCo. Setting SENCos are also supported by Area SENCos if your child attends a Private, Voluntary or independent (PVI) setting.

How are children assessed for autism?

Step 1: Initial screening assessment by a speech and language therapist

Children who are under 5 and referred to SCYPS will be seen first for an assessment by a Speech and Language Therapist (SLT) who will gather some information from you, ask about your child’s development and communication and play skills.  The SLT will then observe and assess your child’s play and talking and offer some advice, support and strategies so that you can help your child at home.  We will also send a copy of this plan to your child’s nursery.

Following this assessment, you will then be signposted to or offered a service based on your child’s needs, this could include one or more of the following:

  • Referral for an Autism assessment where information from nursery and other professionals are gathered
  • Speech and language therapy sessions ‘Play and Communicate’
  • Come and Problem Solve interactive web based sessions (CAPS) for advice and strategies  run by specialist SLT and OT these cover communication, sensory preferences , play and interaction strategies
  • A range of practical web based speech and language therapy and occupational therapy tutorials to build parents knowledge and skills in supporting their child and providing early intervention.
  • Web based tools to support parents manage their children at home and school around areas such as communication, play, toileting and dressing.
    (Video’s with tips to support children’s speech, language and communication skills

We aim to offer an appointment within 18 weeks of referral or sooner. Families will be advised at the appointment on the timeframes for the next steps as these can vary depending on the presenting needs and information about the child.

Step 2: Children who are referred on for an autism assessment

Whilst you are waiting for an autism diagnostic assessment we will be using that time to find out more about your child from a range of people who know your child. This will include yourself, nursery or school staff, children’s centre staff, therapists who have provided intervention etc.

This gathering of information and reports about your child is an important part of the assessment process. We need to have a full picture of your child in different settings and situations over a period of time.

During this time, you will have full access to a range of services described within this document to support your child’s needs. Your child does not need a diagnosis to access these services and support. This includes support within an early year’s educational setting.

Step 3: The autism clinic appointment

At the clinic appointment you will be seen by a range of health professionals. During the assessment, they will use a range of toys to assess and observe your child’s play skills, interaction, understanding, spoken language and behaviours which builds upon the information already gathered from anyone who has worked with your child. The assessment will help the relevant people understand and support the child.

What support is availale after an autism diagnosis?

Home visit

All families will be offered a visit from a specialist health visitor within four weeks of receiving a diagnosis. It may be useful for you to write down any questions that you have before this visit.

Follow on support

Specialist Health Visitors also provide three monthly follow up support; with a focus on areas such as behaviour, toileting and play for those families who need it

Post diagnosis workshop

All families will be invited to a post diagnosis workshop where you will receive information about autism, how to help your child and the services and support available in Newham.

Ambitious About Autism Parents Toolkit

The national organisation Ambitious About Autism have developed a toolkit for parents who think their child has autism or who has had a recent diagnosis. Click here find out more and to download a copy.

Last updated: 08/09/2022

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