What to do if you think your child might be autistic.
As a parent, it is perfectly normal to have occasional worries about your child and their development. Sometimes these concerns persist, however, and then it is important to seek professional help to discuss your child’s development.
If you are worried about your child’s ability to communicate with other people and their social interaction skills, it may be appropriate to ask for your child to be assessed to see if they meet the criteria for autism. Where possible, it is advisable to discuss your concerns with any professionals working with your child (particularly your child’s speech and language therapist), before making a referral for further assessment.
The National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) has some helpful checklists, which summarise Signs and Symptoms of Possible Autism. They can be found online, and may be helpful when you are considering making a referral: https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg128
In Enfield, there are two possible routes to receiving an assessment for your child. If your child is under six years old, they will be seen by the Social Communication Clinic (SCC). If they are over six years old, they will be seen by the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS).
Making a referral to the Social Communication Clinic (SCC)
For children under 6 years old
Anyone can make a referral to SCC, via the General Development Service (GDS). The most common referrers are:
- Your child’s GP
- Your child’s Health Visitor
- Your child’s Speech and Language Therapist
- The Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo) at your child’s school or nursery
You can also refer your child directly to GDS, although it is always helpful to have information from the professionals involved with your child as well. When making a referral, please give as much information about your concerns as possible. You might like to think about things that your child can and cannot do. Send a letter to:
General Development Service
St Michael’s Site
Making a referral to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS)
For children over 6 years old
The best way to make a referral if your child is over 6, is to talk to the SENCo at your child’s school. Your SENCo can refer directly to CAMHS. Although you can request a referral via your GP, the GP may not have sufficient information regarding how your child functions across settings. We would therefore recommend that you talk to your SENCo in the first instance.