What is autism?

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects:

  • How a person communicates and relates to other people
  • How they experience the world around them.
  • Social interaction, communication, interests and behaviour.

The common behaviours of autism may be detectable at an early age, however these behaviours often don’t show themselves until an aspect of the child’s life changes, for example when the child goes to nursery or primary school or moves to secondary school.

What does the Wiltshire Autism Assessment Service (WAAS) do?

  • We provide an assessment for children and young people with possible autism.
  • We will provide a named autism practitioner who will guide and support families throughout the assessment process.
  • We will gather information from a number of sources, including pre-schools, schools, parents and carers and other health professionals, in order to make a diagnosis for the child or young person.

What will happen if your child is assessed for autism?

  • An autism practitioner will contact you for a telephone assessment. This will help the team to gather all the important information they need to start the assessment process. The autism practitioner will talk you through the process and will answer any questions or concerns that you have.
  • The child or young person will then be seen for a medical appointment with one of our Community Paediatricians.
  • Next, the child or young person will be seen for a social communication assessment with an autism practitioner if additional information is required. The Autism Practitioner will explain the most appropriate pathway for your child.
  • All the information gathered is presented at a multidisciplinary panel.
  • The outcome of the assessment and next steps will be shared with you following this.
  • A Post Assessment Meeting (PAM) will be arranged. This will usually take place in the child or young person’s education setting (if currently in school). The meeting will help identify how to access the appropriate support for the child or young person.
  • Following this meeting, the child or young person will be discharged from the Wiltshire Autism Assessment Service.

Throughout the assessment process, information will be gathered from people who know the child or young person well. The evidence gathered will be reviewed by the WAAS team and a decision will be agreed with the you and the child or young person regarding a diagnosis.