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Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Being on the autism spectrum means someone’s brain works differently.  

This means that people with autism experience the world differently and may act differently to other people.

Autism affects people in different ways. Like all of us, people with autism have things they are good at, and things they struggle with.

Some things that people with autism commonly struggle with include:

Social interaction and communication 

People with autism find it difficult to understand how other people think or feel.  This means they can sometimes find it hard to interact and talk with others.  People with autism may take longer to understand things.

Repetitive and restrictive behaviour 

People with autism often prefer routine or may exhibit repetitive behaviour and do the same things over and over.  Changes to routine, unfamiliar situations and social events can feel distressing and cause anxiety.


People with autism can sometimes get overwhelmed by sensations such as touch, light, sound, taste, smell or temperature.

Focused interests or hobbies

People with autism often have focused interests or hobbies, often from a young age.

Assessment for ASD in Children

If you think your child has autism, you should speak to a trusted professional.  In general this will be the Health Visitor for pre-school aged children and School for school aged children.  Schools have a designated professional called the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Co-ordinator (SENDCo) who will be involved.

They can start the pathway for your child to be assessed by a children’s neurodevelopmental specialist.

In Peterborough, there is a set pathway for accessing assessment. This ensures that you and your child receive timely support before referral to specialist neurodevelopmental services.

Early Help Assessment

Initially, an Early Help Assessment (EHA) is completed by the lead professional.  The lead professional is a trusted professional who already knows and works closely with the child/family.

Early Help is about ensuring that children and families receive the support they need at the right time, by bringing together professionals who will listen and work with the whole family to help make things better for everyone.

After the EHA is completed, there will be a meeting between multiple professionals, agencies and support groups to ensure the most appropriate help is offered to the child/family

Evidence-based Parenting Programme

As part of the EHA, you will be asked to complete an evidence-based parenting programme.  This may be online or in small groups.

The aim of the evidence-based parenting programme is to share helpful tips and strategies to improve things at home and/or in school.

Once the evidence-based parenting programme is complete, you will have a period of six weeks to embed the strategies you have learned.

To register your interest in a parenting programme, scan the QR code or click on the link below.

Referral for neurodevelopmental assessment

After the evidence-based parenting programme has been completed and embedded, if there are still concerns, the lead professional may make a referral to specialist neurodevelopmental services through YOUnited.

The referral will need to include as much information and evidence as possible as to why an assessment is needed.

If the referral is accepted, you will receive a letter letting you know what type of assessment has been recommended.  You will then be contacted again once you reach the top of the waiting list.

GP’s cannot make a diagnosis of autism.
GP’s cannot make direct referrals for neurodevelopmental assessment either and all referrals must follow the pathway outlined above.

It is widely accepted that the best person to lead on the EHA and subsequently refer for neurodevelopmental assessment is a trusted professional who already knows and works closely with the child/family.  This is usually the Health Visitor for pre-school aged children and someone in school for school aged children.

This is because lots of evidence needs to be attached to the referral which GP’s do not have access to e.g. your child’s learning levels, evidence of school based support already in place, outcomes of testing/assessment of learning needs, descriptions of witnessed behavioural challenges and observations of peer and staff social interaction.

Additionally, GP’s do not receive training in or have access to the computer package used to manage an EHA.

GP’s may however provide a report to the lead professional to support the EHA/referral if they wish to add information from a general health perspective or if there are specific medical details to share.

Frequently Asked Questions

Click on the link below to view the FAQ’s leaflet:

Assessment for ASD in Adults

Assessment for ASD in adults in Peterborough is undertaken by the Cambridgeshire Lifespan Autism Spectrum Service (CLASS).

If you think you have ASD as an adult, your GP will be able to make a referral to CLASS.

The GP will ask you to complete the following form and return it to the surgery.  The GP will then review your answers and if appropriate, refer you to CLASS for assessment

How a diagnosis can help

Parents and children

For parents and children, a diagnosis can help you:


For adults, a diagnosis can help you:

  • understand why you might find some things harder than other people
  • explain to others why you see and feel the world in a different way
  • get support at college, university or work
  • get some financial benefits

Support after diagnosis 

After diagnosis in children, training is provided by the Child and Adolescent Mental Health (CAMH) Neurodevelopmental Service to parents and carers on the diagnosis given to their child. They can also provide specific interventions including medication if appropriate. 

After diagnosis in adults, CLASS can offer some post-diagnostic support for up to 6 months after assessment

Other Resources: