Services that support children and young people with autism
There are a wide range of services available to support children and young people with autism, 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 children and young people with autism are listed below:
The Specialist Service comprises of the Outreach and Training Service - Westminster Special Schools (Westminster) and the Autism and Early Years Intervention Team (Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea).
They support children and young people with an Autistic Spectrum condition (ASC) and deliver advice and support for schools and parents, enabling them to meet the needs of children with a diagnosis of autism.
Westminster: The FWSS Westminster Training and Outreach Service supports all children and young people with a diagnosis of autism who attend Westminster state-maintained schools.
RBKC: The Autism and Early Years Intervention Team supports children and young people with autism within schools and nurseries within RBKC. Input is also provided for private, voluntary and independent nurseries. Within the Foundation Stage, input can be provided for any children with any special educational need.
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 and fulfil their learning potential and social communication skills. This includes autistic spectrum condition (ASC); Asperger’s Syndrome; Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA).
In school input may consist of:
- Observations - providing feedback and suggested strategies for use in the classroom
- Modelling approaches and team teaching
- Triage sessions for teachers / LSAs to discuss issues
- Transition support
- Advice on differentiated resources
- Crisis intervention
- Advice on adapting the physical environment / audit of provision
- Support for students to understand their diagnosis
- Liaising with other agencies
- Bespoke training for schools
- Training at the Queen Elizabeth II Special School or Kensington Town Hall
Support for parents:
- Parental training - Parents’ Autism Awareness Course (PAAC)– for under 5s and over 5s; Puberty and Relationships; Support for Siblings
- Parents’ Coffee Mornings
- Parents of girls with autism support group
- Home visits (where appropriate)
- Liaison with Full of Life (RBKC) and Make it Happen (Westminster)
Referrals can be made by:
- Health professionals
- Schools or Early Years’ settings
- PVI settings (in RBKC)
- Parents / carers
- Local authorities
- Social Service / Early Help
Make referrals by emailing:
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 children and young people with autism 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.
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 children with autism 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.
Child development services work to identify, assess, investigate and support children and young people (0-18) with-long term neurodevelopmental disorders and neurodisabilities, including autism.
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
The Speech and Language Therapy Service helps children and young people (0-19) who have speech, language or communications needs (SLCN). As children and young people with autism 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.
Children and young people with autism spectrum conditions (ASC) 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 children and young people diagnosed with autism which is delivered through the Neurodevelopmental and learning disability team.