School age: children 4 to 16 years

1. Support and assessment

If you suspect your child or young person may be autistic, you can talk to the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO) at your child’s school. They will be able to talk about how your child presents in school and can work with you to put strategies in place to support your child, both at home and school. After this, they might work with you to create a document called a One Page Profile to share the best approaches that all key adults should take. Some children may need a more detailed plan of support called a Support Plan, which the SENCO would discuss and create with you.

Requesting an autism assessment

If you decide that you would like an assessment to be carried out, you need to discuss this with the SENCO at your child’s school. They'll decide with you if a request for an assessment is appropriate at that time. If a referral for assessment is agreed, they'll need to provide evidence of what has been put in place to support your child so far, and how successful this has been. They'll also need lots of supporting information from home.

If your child is home-schooled you can talk to their GP, who can refer your child for an assessment in lieu of a SENCO. They'll need as much supporting evidence as possible from home and any other agencies that have been involved with the child.

If you have any questions or need advice, you can contact the Multi-Agency Safeguarding and Support Hub (MASSH).

All referrals are sent to the MASSH, where they are screened by our Referral and Information Officers to make sure the referral information is appropriate to proceed. If it's appropriate to proceed, they are then screened by a mental health practitioner for any risk or safeguarding concerns. Once the initial checks are complete in the MASSH the referral is transferred to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) to begin the assessment pathway.

Not all referrals for an assessment end with a diagnosis. The practitioners completing the assessment will review all supporting referral information, along with their overall findings. They may conclude that your child does not meet the criteria for a diagnosis of autism. If this is the case, you'll receive a report from the practitioners which will explain their decision and signpost to relevant services or resources to assist you in supporting your child.