Specialist Neurodevelopmental Team
Assessment and Diagnosis for Children and
Adolescents with Developmental Disorders including
Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
- What do we do?
- What is Autism?
- What does the assessment involve?
- What about confidentiality?
- What happens next?
- Who is part of the multidisplinary team?
- Where can you go for further support?
- How to contact us?
What do we do?
The Islington CAMHS Specialist Neurodevelopmental Service offers high quality, family-centred, assessments of Autism for Islington’s children and adolescents between 5-18 years of age. We also assess other neurodevelopment conditions that may occur with Autism, or might be confused with Autism.
We work as a multi-disciplinary team, including child and adolescent Psychiatrists, Clinical Psychologists, Speech and Language Therapists, Occupational Therapists and Paediatricians.
- Tailor our approach to meet the individual needs of each young person.
- Work with parents and carers to enable you to make informed choices and access support to address your child’s changing needs.
- Work with education services as well as the national/local voluntary sector to help you.
- Collaborate with other teams within CAMHS and across other agencies.
What is Autism?
Autism Spectrum Disorder is a type of developmental disorder. A developmental disorder is something that people acquire before, during or soon after birth. There are no simple medical tests that can diagnose Autism. Professionals will make a diagnosis by gathering information from multiple sources about how a young person behaves and communicates. Autism is a condition that can affect children’s development in the following areas (these can also occur in other conditions):
- Understanding other people
- Understanding social rules
- Understanding emotions
- Imagination and flexibility
- Sensory processing: e.g. light, sound, texture
Autism is commonly referred to as a spectrum condition. This means there can be a wide variety of strengths and difficulties. All children with Autism have strengths and there are a number of skills and strategies they can learn so that they manage their difficulties better.
What does the assessment involve?
We will invite you and your child to attend a series of appointments at our clinic.
Here is an outline of the meetings that will take place:
Parent Information Meeting
- Opportunity to learn more about the assessment process
- Receive screening questionnaires to fill in before the first appointment
4-6 meetings for ‘core assessment’
- Family Meetings
- Separate parent and child meetings
- A school visit to observe your child in this context
- ADOS—This is a standardised evaluation of a young persons communication and social skills using a series of play based and conversational tasks.
Possible extra meetings if additional assessments are needed: e.g. cognitive, speech and language or occupational therapy assessment.
Up to 3 Feedback Meetings to explain our findings to parents, child and school.
Timeline: We aim to complete our ‘core’ assessment and provide face to face feedback for parents within 8 weeks. This may take longer if additional assessments need to be carried out.
We aim to provide a child-friendly written report within 10 weeks.
We aim to complete a finalised ‘official’ report for parents and professionals within 14 weeks. Occasionally the final report may take longer e.g. if additional assessments are required.
What about confidentiality?
Everything you tell us or we write about you will remain private and confidential within 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 or your child were at significant risk of harm. Even in this situation we will always let you know what information we have shared.
We will ask your permission to film one of the sessions involving play based and conversational tasks (ADOS). We never let anyone outside our team view this unless you give us your permission.
Parents and young people have asked whether this film will be put on the internet. The answer is always NO!
What happens next?
About 50% of the children we assess receive a diagnosis of Autism.
What happens if my child is given a diagnosis of Autism?
After the assessment and feedback meeting we will offer you: 4-12 Post diagnostic sessions at our clinic to further discuss the outcomes of the assessment and the next steps. These include:
- A school feedback session where we will meet with your child’s teachers to feedback the outcomes of the assessment and make recommendations for school.
- Support links to other services such as early support key worker, family support workers, voluntary organisations.
- Practical advice about where to go for help with benefits, education issues, etc.
- We will also refer you to other specialist services if your child has additional needs e.g. Speech and Language Therapy within the school, Bridge Outreach Service (autism advice for mainstream school).
What happens if my child is not given a diagnosis of Autism?
After the assessment and feedback meeting where a diagnosis is not given we will refer your child to the most appropriate team(s) to meet any needs identified in our assessment. These teams will help you understand your child’s difficulties better and find solutions.
These teams could be:
- Another team at Islington CAMHS e.g. if your child has depression or ADHD
- Services outside CAMHS e.g. Families First and mentoring services.
Who is part of the multidisciplinary team?
Though you will be assigned two clinicians to work with your family, there are a range of professionals involved in our team who help ensure we can provide you with a high quality assessment. A key part of the assessment is discussing our findings as a whole team. Each professional will be able to carry out the ‘core’ assessment, but will also offer their own professional perspective in meetings. Additionally they can carry out specialist assessments so that we can come to the best possible conclusion to help your child. Here is a list of the different professions:
The role of the clinical psychologist in the NDT is to offer evaluation and provide support for the problems associated with young people with special needs and their families.
- We can assess your child’s psychological development as part of the multi-disciplinary team approach. This may address specific problems of learning and development, emotional and social difficulties.
- We can assist children and their families in understanding their difficulties.
- We can provide advice to carers about specific developmental problems, e.g. eating, sleeping.
- We offer families psychological support for emotional and behavioural problems.
Speech and Language Therapy
Speech and Language Therapists on the team have been trained in speech, language and communication development and can work with children and families who are referred to the NDT.
What do we do?
- Assess your child or young person’s development as part of the multi-disciplinary approach
- If necessary we may also carry out a specific assessment of your child or young person’s speech and language development and make recommendations
- Liaise with the wider speech and language therapy teams who work within mainstream and special schools
Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialise in helping young people who have emotional and behavioural difficulties. There are a wide range of conditions that we can help with in addition to autism. Some of the more common are depression, anxiety and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Child and adolescent psychiatrists always try to work jointly with parents and other professionals. Talking-based approaches are by far the most common ways in which child psychiatrists achieve positive changes for their clients. Occasionally we can prescribe medication if we think it would be helpful in addition to other strategies.
Occupational therapists work with children with additional needs which affect different areas in the child’s and family’s life. Occupational Therapists often focus on function and practical solutions in the areas of:
- Independence skills- Dressing, toileting, personal hygiene, eating & drinking
- Play skills and Leisure
- Skills needed for school- handwriting, organisation and planning, fine and gross skills
- Emotional development- Self-esteem, social skills
Paediatrics is the branch of medicine that deals with the medical care of infants, children, and adolescents. As well as undertaking ‘core’ assessments within the NDT we are medical doctors who can:
- Support parents about their child’s special medical needs
- Arrange Specialist Investigations and treatment
- Conduct medical examinations (rarely necessary)
- Gather relevant medical information about your child.
The different schools of family therapy have in common a belief that, regardless of the origin of the problem, and regardless of whether the clients consider it an “individual” or “family” issue, involving families in solutions often benefits clients. The involvement of families is accomplished by their participation in the therapy session. The skills of the family therapist include the ability to influence conversations in a way that brings out the strengths, wisdom, and support of the wider system.
Where can you go for further support?
Parent and Carer Information and Support Service
Northern Health Centre Outreach Office 0203 316 1930
National Autistic Society
Information, training and resources on Autism
Helpline 0808 800 4104
Islington Children and Families
Local services for children and families in Islington
Family information service 0207 527 5959
How to contact us?
020 3316 1824