Social Communication Assessment Clinic (SCAC) at Hackney Ark

Service details

Autism Assessment Pathways for children and young people.

There are 4 assessment pathways for children and young people. These are based on their age and any other significant difficulties.

Find out about the Adult Autism Diagnostic Service here.

What is SCAC?

SCAC is short for Social Communication Assessment Clinic. It is an autism assessment service for children and young people who:

  • are aged 5 to 18 years, and
  • do not also have a learning disability

SCAC is jointly run by Hackney Ark clinicians and Specialists in Mental Health CAMHS (ELFT).  It is an individualised assessment involving Multidisciplinary Teams made up of a combination of:

  • A Paediatrician
  • A Psychiatrist
  • A Clinical Psychologist
  • An Educational Psychologist
  • A Speech and Language Therapist
  • An Assistant Psychologist

How do you make the assessment?

Individualised and standardised assessments are undertaken by specially trained clinicians.

Assessments in SCAC may use the ADOS (Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule).

They will also include a 3Di developmental interview with parents of children being assessed for autism. The purpose of 3Di is to get a detailed description of a child's development in different areas:

  • language and communication
  • social interaction and play
  • any repetitive behaviours and sensory needs

To complete the assessment the team will sometimes also make observations during agreed sessions in familiar settings. This might be at school or in the home.

All assessments comply with NICE guidelines. SCAC uses the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) to reach a decision about a diagnosis.

How long is the wait before the child or young person is seen for the assessment?

Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, SCAC waiting times are much longer, currently around 18 months.

We know this is frustrating and we are working hard to see children and young people as soon as we can.

How to check where a child or young person is on the waiting list?

Unfortunately, our current wait times are around 12-15 months from the date of referral to SCAC but this is subject to change due to a variety of factors. We will contact you when your child reaches the top of the waiting list.

We are an assessment service only so are unable to provide interventions while you are waiting for your child to be assessed. If parents have any concerns about their children while on the waiting list, we would signpost them to speak to their school or GP or the person who made the referral if the referral to SCAC was made by someone else. Schools, GPs, and other referrers have the information they need to follow up with the service.

Please only contact us if you change contact details (home address, phone number) or change your GP, or if you need to cancel or re-arrange an appointment. Service contact details will be on the letter we send you when you are referred.

What happens after the appointment?

A feedback appointment will be made with the family and child or young person (if over 16) to discuss the assessment results.

Parents and carers of children or young people who receive a diagnosis of autism can be referred to post-diagnosis information sessions such as PEGASUS and Early Bird Plus.

These sessions will help them understand autism in more detail and be introduced to other services that can offer additional help if needed.

SEND Local Offer

Local Offer Age Bands
Primary 4 -10
Secondary 11-14
Preparing for Adulthood 14-18
SEN Provision Type
  • Specialist

Who to contact

Contact Position
SCAC Coordinator
0207 014 7071 0207 014 7071
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Where to go

Hackney Ark
Downs Park Road

E8 2FP

View E8 2FP on a map
Venue Notes


30, 56, 67, 76, 149, 243, 276,


Dalston Kingsland, Hackney Downs


The car park has 10 car spaces including two spaces for disabled drivers along with motorcycle and bicycle spaces. Parking is restricted to clients and service users only.

Service users will need to use the entry phone to alert the main reception of their arrival and be permitted to enter the car park. Anyone using the car park does so at their own risk.

Reception can ring for cabs for patients.

There are on-street parking bays opposite the building.

Transport for some children and young people may be arranged depending on their mobility needs. Consideration may be given to the use of hospital transport in very exceptional circumstances only.

Other details

Who is eligible?

Autism assessment service for children and young people who:

  • are aged 5 to 18 years and
  • do not also have a learning disability

Referral by a professional is needed. 

Referral required?


Referral Details

Who can make a referral? 

SCAC accept referrals directly from the following professionals:

  • General Practitioners (family doctors)
  • School SENCos (Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators)
  • Paediatricians
  • Allied Health Professionals
  • CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services)

How to make a referral?

To accept a referral we need information about the concerns and reason for the referral to SCAC.

To help gather the information we need we have created a referral pack.

This is availble in the download section of this page. 

There are different sections to be completed by people that we need to hear from,

Part 1 – Referrer to complete in full including consent
Part 2 – Parent/Carer to complete in full (may require assistance of referrer)
Part 3 – School to complete where possible

It is important that this referral pack is fully completed before we can consider accepting a referral.

We are not able to accept referrals where we do not receive enough information.

We make contact with the referrer and family within 5 weeks of receiving a fully completed referral.

Please email the completed form to or

Post to SPA (Single Point of Access) Team, Hackney Ark. Downs Park Rd, E8 2FP

If you have queries about suitability of a referral please contact the SCAC coordinator on 0207 014 7071

If you have doubts or feel that there are additional complications that may better explain the child’s presentation, please make a referral to Specialist CAMHS where an overall assessment can take place in the first instance.

For information on making a referral to Specialist CAMHS please call 0203 222 5600.

What to do if you have a complaint

If you have a concern about the service you have received please speak to your therapist or the person who has been working with you. They will try to address your concerns. If that does not help you can arrange to contact the service’s management team via Hackney Ark's admin service.

If you prefer to discuss your concern with someone independent of your care team you can contact our Patient Liaison and Advice Service (PALS).

The PALS team can help resolve queries and concerns quickly. If you are not happy with the outcome then they can advise you on the correct formal complaints process.


Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Homerton Row

London E9 6SR


Phone: 020 8510 7315 - out of office hours voicemail service available

Textphone: 07584 445 400


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