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What is Autism?

Autism is a lifelong condition that affects social interaction, communication, interests and behaviour.

Autism is on a spectrum and is often called Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or Autistic Spectrum Condition (ASC). This means that even though children and young people with ASD have the same type of difficulties some of them are more affected by the level of their difficulties than others.

People with autism may also be affected by other conditions as well as ASD.

Watch this video that explains a little about what autism is and how it affects people. 

Find out more about autism on these websites:

 Last updated 20/09/17

What to do if you are worried about the way your child communicates and interacts with other people?

If your child is under 5 years old you can discuss your concerns with someone from the following services:

If you child is over 5 years old…

If you child is over 5 years old and attending school ask to speak to the school SENCO or school's Speech and Language Therapist.

You can contact the Speech and Language Therapy Service  directly or discuss concerns with you GP.

The Social Communication Assessment Clinic (SCAC) can undertake assessment of 5-13 year olds where there are autism related concerns. This clinic makes assessments where the child or young person presents without significant learning difficulties.

Schools SENCOs (Special Educational Needs Coordinators) can make referrals to the Social Communication Assessment Clinic using the form on the Resources page for SENCOs, SEND professionals and others

How do children get a diagnosis of Autism?

Autism is diagnosed by looking at a child or young person’s social communications and interactions to see whether their behaviour, interests, or activities have any restricted or repetitive patterns.

Find out more: CAMHS ASD - Referrers guide 

Assessment are carried out by a team of professionals from Health and Education services.  

There are different assessment pathways depending on your child’s needs see the ASD pathway in the download section of this page.

Complex Communication Clinic

The Complex Communication Clinic is a specialist multi-disciplinary clinic for children where there are particular concerns about their development of communication, social interaction, play and some aspects of behaviour for children under 5 years presenting with possible autism and perhaps in need of a diagnosis.

Special Advisory Clinic (SAC)

The Special Advisory Clinic (SAC) is a paediatric assessment appointment delivered by a community paediatrician.

The clinic sees children who are 5 years and under and who may have developmental concerns.

Referrals often come through the MARS process but professionals e.g. health visitors and GPs may also refer directly to the clinic.

Find out more: Multi-Agency Referrals (MARs) meetings

Young people aged 14 years or over suspected of being affected by an Autistic Spectrum Disorder:

All young people aged 14 years or over suspected of being affected by an Autistic Spectrum Disorder are assessed at Specialist CAMHS, East London Foundation Trust, to also identify if the young people have mental health needs. 

All referrals for 14 years and older group go to East London Foundation Trust.

Find out more: Specialist CAMHS - City and Hackney - Homerton Row

Find out more: CAMHS Alliance

The Social Communication Assessment Clinic (SCAC) Referral form for assessment of Autism for 5-13 year olds (without significant learning difficulties) can be found in the download section of this page. 

Find out more: How Hackney identifies children and young people with special educational needs and disability...

What happens during the assessment?

The assessment will take place over time and your child will be observed in different settings e.g. home and school, so that the professionals carrying out the assessment can see them in different social situations.

At the start of the assessment families will be given more information about how it will be completed and when it will be finished.

Once all the parts of the assessment have been completed a report will be written and shared with the child's parents and if appropriate the child's school, nursery or other setting. The assessment will help the relevant people understand and support the child.

What support is there if my child has been diagnosed with Autism?

If your child has been diagnosed with Autism you will be invited to attend some information sessions to help you understand this diagnosis better and to think about how to understand and support your child. 

Next Steps is run at Hackney ARK by Occupational Therapists, CAMHS Disability Therapists and Speech and Language Therapists.

City and Hackney CAMHS also runs workshops after diagnosis called Pegasus. Parents are normally  invited to either Next Steps or Pegasus or may be invited to an

Early Bird courses were developed byt the National Autstic Society and are delivered by a specialist teacher and family ASD intervention worker with extensive experience of supporting families. See the links below for more details...

There are also groups that run regular sessions for parents to help them explore specific issues that come up and learn strategies that can help make thing a bit easier.

Your child’s school, nursery, children’s centres or school setting can access help for children with communication difficulties and autism from these services:

Some families may also be able to have some advice given in the home or via ASD specific group sessions

e.g. ASD Coffee mornings - run at Hackney Ark or ASD Parents Information sessions which are jointly delivered by professionals from Speech and Language Therapy, Occupational Therapy and CAMHS and run from Homerton Row. We try to keep the dates, times and any information on specific topics available on Hackney's Local Offer website "What's on?" page.

CAMHS Disability 

Service for children and young people with ASD from across the ability range (i.e. attending mainstream or specialist provision). 

2 x ASD Assistant Psychologists from the team at the Hackney Ark can offer school staff and families support to complement and collaborate with existing ASD services in the borough

This short-term work of up to 6 sessions, aims to help families directly with difficulties (for example, issues with communication, behaviour, eating, or sleep).

Find out more: CAMHS Disability Service

Approached to supporting pupils and students with autism in schools

Hackney Learning Trust have produced a position statement on the approaches used in schools to support children and young people with autism. 

Find out more: HLT Position Statement - Approaches to Autism

You can find more autism information, guides and toolkits in the download and externals links section of this page. 

Relevant support services and their contact details...


Hackney Independent Forum for Parents/Carers of Children with Disabilities (HiP) run information sessions on a variety of special needs related topics and these events and meetings are a good way of meeting up with other parents who live locally and have already been through the experience of receiving a diagnosis of autism for their child.

Hackney SENDIAGS (SEND Information, Advice and Guidance Service) The Hackney SEND Information, Advice and Guidance Service (SENDIAGS) is an arm's length service providing impartial and confidential information, advice and support to parents and carers of children with Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities (SEND) and young people and children with SEND. 

SENDIAGS run face to face drop in sessions Thursday mornings, term time 10am - 12pm from the  Information & Advice - Hackney Ark Resource Centre. 

What might happen next?

Some children with Autism will need an Education Health Care Needs Assessment.

Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) information questions and answers...

Some children may go to a school in Hackney that has specialist provision for autism.

Autism Resourced Provision at Schools


What autism service support those who are 18 and over?

Adult Autism Service (City and Hackney)

The City and Hackney Autism Service is a diagnostic service for adults aged 18 years and over. The service offers assessments and diagnosis to people with communication and social interaction difficulties which may be due to being on the Autism spectrum. 

The service also provides brief interventions and signposting to those who receive a diagnosis of Autism.

A clear diagnosis can help individuals to access support, be understood and develop helpful strategies.

For information you can contact the service on..

Phone: 02085108176 

e-mail: C&

Information for professionals: 

Please send referrals to

City and Hackney Adult Mental Health Referral and Assessment Service (CHAMHRAS)


Phone: 02085108011

Fax: 02085108064

If you are over 18 and have autism the services you receive may be a mix of adult services and children's services from Education, Health and Social Care.

You may still be supported with an EHC plan if you are in education or training.

You may get help with social activities or help from Adult Social Care to develop independence.

Adult Social Care - Needs Assessment

Hackney is developing an autism strategy

Hackney is developing an autism strategy to ensure the experience of living with autism and the wider understanding of it improves.

Hackney's Autism Board have a user and carer engagement and consultation group.

For more information e-mail:

Or find out more on the website:

Other services that support adults with autism...

Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) information questions and answers...

CHOICE in Hackney- Choice in Hackney is a voluntary organisation, which provides Advocacy and Independent Living Services to disabled people in London.

Outward - Hub Club - Day Activities for Adults with Learning Disabilities and Autism Spectrum Conditions

Outward - Hackney Volunteer & Befriending Service

Outward - Specialist Outreach Support for Adults on the Autistic Spectrum

Outward - Supported Living for Adults on the Autistic Spectrum

Autism Equality in the Workplace

Autism Equality in the Workplace

Removing Barriers and Challenging Discrimination

People with autism often find themselves left out of working life because of changes they need employers to make so that they can experience success at work are not understood. This practical handbook explains the reasonable ways that work places can be changed so autistic people are included as valuable members of the workforce.  

Neurodiversity in the workplace can be a gift. Yet only 15% of adults with an autism spectrum condition (ASC) are in full-time employment. This book looks at how the working environment can accept and include autistic people in a positive way. The author talks about common challenges in the workplace for people with ASC, like discrimination and lack of communication or the right kind of support from managers and colleagues, and provides strategies for changing them.

Setting out practical, reasonable adjustments such as a quiet room or avoiding disruption to work schedules, this book demonstrates how day to day changes in the workplace can make it more inclusive and productive for all employees. Autism in the Workplace is a book intended for any person with an interest in changing working culture to make sure autistic people are included. It is an essential resource and reading for employers, managers, trade unionists, people with ASCs and their workmates and supporters.

Autism in the workplace book cover


Author: Janine Booth - 

Foreword: John McDonnell MP

Price: £12:99 ( 10% discount code Y16)

Buy the book here: Jessica Kingsley Press

Further useful information on Hackney's Local Offer website….

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