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Referrals for assessment are increasing, and the numbers of children and young people being diagnosed are also increasing.  Health professionals work with families and schools to assess for autism and make a diagnosis.

You can view information on the NHS pages about autism. You can also see what the autism team do, and who they are on their team leaflet.

You will be able to find information about Autism Assessments on the Autism Assessments Pages.

In York, there are three autism diagnostic service, depending on the age of the child or young person.

Under 5

Assessment is undertaken by the child development centre at York Hospital.  Referral to the service is from either a GP or a speech and language therapist.  The whole pathway at York Hospital can take about 1 year, because paediatricians will want to rule out any other health or development issues before considering a full assessment for autism.  If your child is diagnosed with autism, then you will be invited to a discussion and advice session with the specialist teacher for autism and the autism speech and language therapist.  There will be help and support in early years’ settings and into school, depending on the level of need your child has, which will be discussed with you.


5-18 years

If your child or young person is of school age and under 18, the referral for potential assessment is made to CAMHS.
You may self refer to the service, or be referred by your GP or on the advice of your child’s school.  The number to call to self refer is York Single Point of Access on 01904 615345.

The initial situation will be discussed with you and/or your family by our SPA team (single point of access) who will be able to guide you through the process or signpost you to other services depending on your childs need.

Due to considerable increase in referral rates there is currently a significant wait for autism assessments within CAMHS.

There are three parts to referral and assessment process:
1.    Initial 30 minute call to you to discuss the issues around the referral.  If agreed that further assessment is needed, then appropriate screening forms are completed by families/carers and school.

2.    An initial assessment with a member of staff, following which a decision is made about which form of support is best suited to your child or young person, and which, if any, pathway is the most appropriate within the CAMHS service for a young person to be allocated to.

3.    If the initial assessment concludes there should be a full autism assessment, this will be undertaken by a multi- disciplinary team, and include a parent/carer interview and a play based assessment with the young person.  Lime Trees has a leaflet for parents and families about the autism assessment appointments.   

If there is a positive diagnosis of autism, parents are invited to join an ASCEND course, run jointly by Lime Trees and York City Council specialist teaching team, which offers advice and information about autism and some of the approaches to parenting children and young people with autism.  

It may be that other recommendations are made as a result of the autism assessment for those who do not receive a diagnosis of autism.

Over 18 years

Referrals are made through your GP, your social worker or the community mental health team to the Tuke Centre on Heslington Lane for assessment and diagnosis.Please follow the link for more information.

Support for young people with Autism

Keyworker Service

What is the Humber, Coast and Vale Keyworker Service?
•    The new Keyworker service is being developed as a response to the NHS England long term plan commitment that by 2023/24 children and young people with a learning disability, autism, or both, with the most complex needs will have a designated Keyworker.
•    The Keyworking function is an important response to ensuring children, young people and families get the right support at the right time, and that local systems are responsive to meeting their needs in a holistic and joined up way.  
•    The initial phase of this work 2021-2023 is focused on “children and young people who are inpatients or at risk of being admitted to hospital”.

What will a Keyworker do?
•    Act as the main point of contact for children and young people and their family.
•    Build and maintain positive, trusting, and appropriate relationships with children and young people and their families / carers during the supportive period aimed at avoiding admission or facilitating discharge and strengthening links with relevant services.
•    Work on behalf of children and young people and their family/carers towards unblocking challenges and barriers.
•    Ensure all children/young people have a clear personalised plan to promote their development.
•    To ensure that Care Education and Treatment Review recommendations/ actions are completed in a timely manner and that there are updates to the Dynamic Support Register to reflect this.
•    The Keyworker will ensure continuity of care for the child/young person, and work across systems and services to ensure they respond and react to child/young person’s needs as required.

Why and how can a Keyworker help?
•    Many children and young people with a learning disability, autism or both, struggle to get the help they need from the system.
•    The system processes supporting children, young people and families can be complex and not joined-up or adaptable.
•    Keyworking is an opportunity to address these issues and improve outcomes for children, young people, and families.
•    Keyworkers are central to ensuring that children, young people, and their families can navigate the complexities of the system.
•    A core role for Keyworkers is to facilitate the co-production of this personalised approach.

Who can have a Keyworker?
The criteria for access to a Keyworker is as follows
•    A diagnosis of a learning disability, autism or both.
•    0-25 years of age, although our primary focus is under 18.
•    Potential risk of inpatient admission or are currently in hospital.
•    The child/young person is on the Dynamic Support Register (DSR). Priority Referrals are with those at Red & Amber and at crisis point. Those at Green currently do not receive an allocated Keyworker, however, may receive signposting or consultation.
•    Reside in the geographical area of Humber Coast and Vale which includes Hull, East Riding, North Lincolnshire, North East Lincolnshire, York, and North Yorkshire.

Accessing the Keyworker Service
Enquiries are welcomed from young people and their families alongside queries from professionals.

The Lead Professional involved in the child or young person’s care can make a referral by completing the referral form and consent form this will be available on the Local Offer.

Our service will be flexible to meet individual needs:
•    We can arrange for an interpreter if you or your family need one.
•    Let us know if you want or need information in a certain way and we will try and do this.
Our service is confidential. We will discuss with you who we share your information with. If we are concerned about the safety of a child/ young person we have a duty to report this. The Keyworker service is committed to working with the Safeguarding Children’s Board. Guidelines and the Principles of the Children Act 1989 (updated 2004).

To find out more, please visit the service's directory page.

Support for families

There are many organisations offering information and support for people and families affected by Autism, including: