Services that support autistic children and young people
There are a wide range of services available to support autistic children and young people, and their families. Which type of services and therapies will be required depends on the individual needs of the child or young person concerned.
Some of services that are most commonly involved in supporting autistic children and young people are listed below:
Bi-Borough Autism Advisory Services
The Specialist Service is for children and young people referred within educational settings in Westminster and the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea.
The team supports autistic children and young people and delivers advice and support for schools and parents, enabling them to meet the needs of children who have been diagnosed as autistic.
The Advisory Service supports all children and young people who have been diagnosed as autistic who attend Westminster or RBKC state-maintained nursery, primary and secondary schools. Input is also provided for private, voluntary and independent nurseries.
How they work: The team works in Early Years settings, primary schools and secondary schools in the respective boroughs in order to fully include children with ASC in mainstream settings; fulfil their learning potential, maintain well-being and enhance social communication skills. This includes a diagnosis of autistic spectrum condition (ASC) Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA) or a diagnosis previously identified as Asperger’s Syndrome; Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDS NOS)
In schools input may consist of:
- Observations - providing feedback and suggested strategies for use in the classroom
- Modelling approaches with identified teaching and/or support staff
- Triage sessions for teachers / LSAs to discuss issues
- Transition support
- Advice on differentiated resources
- Crisis intervention advice
- Advice on adapting the physical environment / audit of provision
- Support for students to understand their diagnosis
- Liaising with other agencies
- Bespoke training for schools
- When circumstances allow: training at the school, or Queen Elizabeth II Special School/other venues
Support for parents:
- Parental training - Parents’ Autism Awareness Courses (PAAC)– for under 5s over 5s and Secondary age; Puberty and Relationships; Support for Siblings
- Parents’ Coffee Mornings
- Parents of girls with autism support group
- Liaison with Full of Life (RBKC) and Make it Happen (Westminster) and other agencies
- Home visits may be made in occasional circumstances (where appropriate)
Referrals can be made by:
- Health professionals
- Schools or Early Years’ settings
- PVI settings
- Parents / carers
- Local authorities
- Social Service / Early Help
Make referrals by emailing the Bi-borough Autism Team: AEYIT@rbkc.gov.uk
A referral form must be completed with signed parent permission given
Children and Young People's Occupational Therapy Service
Children and Young People's Occupational Therapy (CYPOT) works collaboratively with children, their families and school communities to enable children with a range of needs, including autism, to achieve their potential within their occupations at school, home, and the wider community.
Many autistic children and young people experience sensory processing needs. Occupational therapists can assess these needs and suggest strategies that can help in everyday activities.
Where there are needs, occupational therapists may also assist with motor coordination and daily living skills.
Educational Psychology Consultation Service
What is an Educational Psychologist?
Educational and Child Psychologists have expertise in education, learning, child development and the application of psychology to improve the learning and well-being/mental health of children and young people up to the age of 25 years.
They apply the highest-quality psychology to make a positive difference to children and young people’s lives. Using a wide range of skills, expertise and specialist knowledge they support schools to ensure that children facing difficulties can learn and develop, helping to improve their educational outcomes.
Where do Educational Psychologists Work?
Every state-maintained nursery, and primary and secondary schools has a named link Bi-borough Educational Psychologist (EP).
The Educational Psychology Consultation Service has strong and positive relationships with schools and with other council and partner agencies, children’s and adults' social care and health. The advice and support the service is able to offer is therefore very well integrated into the broader systems of support for vulnerable children and young people and those with SEN and their families.
How do Educational Psychologists Work?
Time is usually paid for by schools, who buy in visits from the service every year. Educational psychologists work with teachers and parents, and children & young people themselves, where there are concerns about learning, progress and/or wellbeing. Together, they use consultation to find ways of making changes that mean things work better.
Sometimes educational psychologists also work with a school to think about their environment and provision. This might involve staff training.
A school will always ask your permission before involved an educational psychologist. When an educational psychologist has been involved, they will typically observe children in their normal learning environment and sometimes meet with children. This might be to gain their views; it might also be to carry out an assessment that helps everyone reach a better understanding of what might help them to learn.
Not all autistic children will be known to an educational psychologist - lots of schools will be able to support children using their existing skills and resources.
Educational psychologists also have a statutory role. All children who have an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) or where a request is made and agreed, will be known to an educational psychologist. A statutory assessment will involve the same things as above but is funded by the local authority not the school.
VIG – sometimes educational psychologists might be involved with children and families through specific interventions such as Video Interaction Guidance.
We actively encourage the involvement of parents, carers, teachers, learning support assistants (LSAs), children and young people in a collaborative problem-solving approach. As such, we understand that those who know a child or young person best are usually those who can provide ongoing support at home and in school. Much of our work supporting autistic children and young people involves working in collaboration with teachers and Special Educational Needs Coordinators (SENCos) in school to explore specific needs, assess and prioritise areas where additional support is required, develop ideas for strategies and intervention approaches, and remain involved in monitoring and reviewing the success of these approaches over time. This often involves an ongoing consultation role through a process of plan-do-reflect-and review cycles with schools.
Child Development Services
Child development services work to identify, assess, investigate and support children and young people (0-18) with-long term neurodevelopmental disorders and neurodisabilities, including those who are autistic.
The core team at child development centres consists of paediatricians, clinical psychologists, clinical nurse specialists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, music therapists and speech and language therapists. This multi-disciplinary approach ensures that a wide-ranging level of support can be provided to children and young people who are referred.
It is typical for a child development service to be at the core of an assessment for autism spectrum disorder and to offer ongoing healthcare support.
In addition to their primary neurological condition, many children and young people involved in this service also have complex medical conditions e.g. gastro-oesophageal reflux, seizures, or constipation.
Child Development Services in Westminster
There are two child development services available in Westminster, where each serves a different part of the borough.
The north of the borough is served by the Woodfield Child Development Service
The south of the borough is served by the Cheyne Child Development Service
Speech and Language Therapy Service
The Speech and Language Therapy Service helps children and young people (0-19) who have speech, language or communications needs (SLCN). As autistic children and young people frequenly experience some degree of SLCN, it is common for the Speech and Language Therapy Service to be involved in their care. Sometimes this support will be offered before a child or young person receives an autism diagnosis.
Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS)
Autistic children and young people are more likely to suffer with mental health problems, including depression and anxiety. The Westminster Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) offers evidence-based therapies to support any child or young person who experiences these difficulties.
Westminster CAMHS also offers a specialised service for diagnosed autistic children and young which is delivered through the Neurodevelopmental and learning disability team.
Bi-Borough Short Breaks Service
Short breaks enable disabled children, young people and adults to have time away from their carers, explore new opportunities, have fun and broaden their social networks whilst promoting independence. Families with children between the age of 0 and 18 may be entitled to short breaks, to find out more click here.
CNWL Autism Roadmap
Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust (CNWL) has launched a new digital tool to help parents, carers and families find support for children and young people that have been diagnosed with autism, or who may be waiting for a formal diagnosis.
You can access the Autism Roadmap online at the new dedicated webpage: www.cnwl.nhs.uk/news/year-of-the-child/year-child/autism-roadmap
Autistic people may require support with things like communication, interaction with others, using their imagination, being flexible and feeling overwhelmed by activity in the world around them.
Autism is different for everyone, but this roadmap offers advice and guidance about some of the challenges autistic people may face and how our services can help. Topics include behaviour, communication and language, sensory, eating habits, toileting, sleep, mental health and more.
Find out more about the Autism Roadmap here.