Social Communication and Autism Assessment (Haringey)

Social Communication and Autism Assessment (Haringey)

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We offer high-quality, family-centred assessments for Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC) for children between 2.5 and 11 who have a GP in Haringey.

Following assessment, we signpost to education and health and voluntary sector services that may be able to support them with understanding ASC and finding solutions for difficulties they may have.

Our team includes Speech and Language Therapists, Paediatricians and an Occupational Therapist. We also work closely with psychiatrists and clinical psychologists in Haringey CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service) and the Tavistock Autism Assessment Service.
 
 

What is Autism?

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability which affects how people communicate and interact. More than one in 100 people are on the autism spectrum and there are around 700,000 autistic adults and children in the UK. It is not a disease or illness, but a difference in the way a person’s mind works.
 
We use the term Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC) or autism. You may also hear the term ‘autism spectrum disorder’, which is the formal label used in professional manuals and textbooks but, increasingly, the word ‘neurodivergent’ is used to describe people with conditions linked to differences in brain development, such as autism, ADHD and dyslexia.
 
There are no medical tests that can diagnose ASC. Professionals will make a diagnosis by gathering information from lots of sources about how a child behaves and communicates. ASC can affect children’s development in these ways:
  • Communication
  • Understanding other people, social rules and emotions
  • Imagination and flexibility, including play skills
  • Sensory processing e.g. light, sound, texture

The words ‘spectrum condition’ are used as there can be a wide variety of strengths and differences.

Our service is an assessment one only and children and young people can access therapy services, support in nursery/school as well as the voluntary sector with or without a diagnosis. Please see the Haringey Local Offer for up-to-date information on available support.

 

Referral, waiting list and assessment

 We see children who have been referred by, for example, a nursery/school Senco, speech and language therapist (SLT), Health Visitor or GP.

Our referral forms are here:
 
One of our team will make a decision about the assessment pathway, depending on the child’s age and level of language.
 
Waiting List
Once we have accepted a referral, we send a letter giving an approximate waiting time and details of support that can be accessed while you wait. Our waiting times are long, and we are working hard with commissioners to reduce them.
When your child is near the top of the waiting list, our admin team will contact your child’s nursery/school, if they attend one, and send them a questionnaire to complete. This is really important as we need information about how your child manages in multiple settings. Let us know if you do not want us to make that contact.
 

Assessment for under-5s

Assessment could happen in one of the following ways:

  • During speech and language therapy (SLT) sessions.
  • An appointment at Tynemouth Road Medical Centre.
  • A virtual appointment with an SLT specialist.
  • Using ADOS -2 assessment (autism diagnostic observational schedule).

If your child is assessed by an SLT specialist, they will also have a medical check with a doctor. We also request information from your child’s nursery/childcare setting/school to help us.

You will be told more about the pathway your child is on once they reach the top of the waiting list.

Sometimes it’s not possible for us to reach a conclusion and further information/assessment may be needed. This will be explained, but could consist of one or more of the following:
  • Further information from nursery/school or other professionals.
  • Nursery/school visit to observe your child.
  • Multi-disciplinary team discussion.
  • ADOS assessment.
 

Assessment for over-5s

When your child reaches the top of the waiting list, you will be offered an appointment at Tynemouth Road Health Centre. This is usually with two clinicians for 2-3 hours.
 
Talking about the assessment with your child can be difficult, but for those with good language skills we recommend you explain something about the assessment before their appointment. Here are some suggestions:
  • Talk about what your child might be worried about, for example, making or keeping friends, listening to other people, being distracted or upset by loud noises etc. 
  • Explain the assessment will try to find why they have these worries and help them.
  • Tell them the assessment will also focus on their strengths and what they are good at.
  • Let them know we see lots of young people with similar difficulties.
  • If you think your child is ready, you can also tell them that we want to find out if they are autistic.
During the assessment, one clinician will complete the Autism Diagnostic Observational Schedule (ADOS 2). This will involve some conversation, playing and a few activities, such as puzzles and short tasks, depending on their age and language level.
 
At the same time, another clinician will take a developmental history from you, including information about your child from birth to present with particular emphasis on them at the age of 4/5. Before the appointment, try thinking back to this time - school reports, photos or videos often help – and make a note of any specific events that occurred, such as moving house or starting school.
This part of the assessment can take 1-1.5 hours and parents and children are usually in different rooms, but it depends on their age/language level. If you need an interpreter, one will be arranged, and it will say this on the appointment letter.
 
It is also okay for you to bring another family member or friend. We are not able to accommodate siblings unless they are babies in arms/buggies as it can be a long appointment and they will not be able to join in with the assessment.
 
Once the ADOS assessment and developmental history are completed, you will be given a break while the clinicians look at information from the day alongside information from school/other professionals.
 
Sometimes it is not possible to reach a conclusion on the same day and we may seek further information/another assessment that could consist of one or more of the following:
  • Further information from school or other professionals.
  • Nursery/school visit to observe your child in a different setting.
  • Multi-disciplinary team discussion.
You will then be invited to a feedback session, which could be face-to-face or virtually if you prefer.

Feedback for under-5s and over-5s
Feedback may be given on the same day or at a separate appointment. We will talk about your child’s strengths, differences and any difficulties they may have and whether they meet the criteria for a diagnosis of ASC. Either way, we will talk about what happens next, including support available and signposting to local services.
 
If your child receives a diagnosis, you will be given a written pack with information. If a diagnosis is not given, we will explain what happens next and if any other referrals might be appropriate.
 

Report and discharge

Following this assessment, you will receive a report describing your child’s strengths, differences and difficulties and how the conclusion was reached. This report may also include strategies that could support your child at home/nursery/school. 
 We will share this report with your GP, nursery/school and Haringey Autism team with your permission.
 
Your child will then be discharged from our Social Communication & Autism Team, but may still be followed up by the doctors if there are any medical concerns and will continue to be seen by SLT specialists, if appropriate.
 
 Confidentiality
Everything you tell us or that we write down will remain private and confidential with your child’s NHS records. We will always ask your permission before sharing information with anyone working outside our service.
The only time where we may need to share information without your permission would be if we learned that either you, your child, or someone else were at significant risk of harm. Even in this situation, we will always let you know what information we have shared and with whom.
 
Please tell us if you have sensitive information to be kept confidential and we will always try to respect your wishes.
 

Further Information

For travel and parking information, please visit our Tynemouth Road Health Centre page.
Last updated19 Jan 2024
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