Redesigned Autism Diagnostic Pathway for children and young people

Health commissioners and providers in partnership with families and the local authority are currently undertaking a ‘proof of concept’ pilot in East and North Hertfordshire to test a new autism spectrum diagnostic pathway.

The outcomes that the commissioners are looking for this pathway to deliver for children and their families are:

  • Compliance with NICE guidance
  • Single point of access
  • Positive experience for the young person and their family
  • Reduction in the length of time it currently takes for a young person and their family to receive a diagnostic decision
  • Utilisation of the optimal combination of professionals to support correct and timely diagnosis
  • Support to families; management of expectations, information, advice and guidance and signposting during diagnostic process

Following a pre- testing phase that completes in December the pathway will be tested on a small cohort of children in East and North Hertfordshire during January to June.  The pilot will explore a number of key areas.

  • To understand whether this pathway can be delivered within a maximum of 20 weeks
  • To understand any required changes with respect to gathering referral information
  • To test whether desirable or feasible for a named MDT to follow a child through the pathway
  • To test the principle and application of having a lead pathway professional for each child
  • To understand resource differential between current and proof of concept pathway
  • To understand the impact of CAMHS explicit involvement in proof of concept pathway
  • To understand families and Young People view of the proof of concept pathway
  • To identify areas for improvement in the application of the pathway
  • To test the pathway operationally
  • Gather post pathway support gaps

Each child will be reviewed using a multidisciplinary team approach, the membership of which will vary dependent on the child’s age. The core team will consist of a Community Paediatrician, Speech and Language Therapist and CAMHS professional. For children in an educational placement the SENCO or other applicable representative may be invited to the family feedback session if felt appropriate.

The new pathway will be evaluated with input from families and young people, this evaluation will support commissioners to make an informed decision as to next steps.


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