child with building blocks

Improving Autism Assessment and Integrated Support for Children and Young People

9 March 2020

We have been working to reduce waiting times for autism assessments for children and young people and to improve the pathway and support available.

 An inspection by Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission found waiting times were too long and there were gaps in the service.

By listening to, parent, carers and young people, we have improved services and commissioned additional ones. 

We held a drop-in session in January to check your experiences. We are now looking into issues including requests for updates about waiting time and experience.

Recent actions include:

  • We have written an All Age Autism Joint Strategic Needs Assessment to understand the number of people affected by autism and the types of support they need. It has informed the new All Age Autism Strategy for Cheshire East, which has recently been published.
  • We have invested in assessment services to reduce waiting times. As a result, waiting times have fallen despite a large rise in referrals.
  • In October 2018 there were 478 children and young people waiting for an autism assessment in Eastern Cheshire, with the longest wait being 104 weeks, by 6 December 2019 there were 29 children and young people waiting longer than 12 weeks and the longest waiting time was 17 weeks.
  • We have increased medical input in the services to reduce the length of time children and young people have waited after assessment to receive a diagnosis. We are aiming to reduce this to a maximum of four weeks.
  • We have recruited additional clinical staff to support multi-disciplinary assessment. 
  • A multi-disciplinary team has been commissioned at East Cheshire  NHS Trust to complete autism assessments for pre-school children.
  • We are offering early intervention support in all children’s centres.
  • We have commissioned additional pre and post-diagnosis support for carers and young people. These programmes offer help on issues such as sleep management and anxiety management. The programme in Eastern Cheshire has already supported 120 families. A similar programme will start in the rest of Cheshire East, and in Vale Royal, in February and March).

The Integrated Autism Pathways include:

  • Getting advice - early identification (0-4 years & school age)
  • Getting help - specialist autism assessment
  • Getting more help – pre and post-diagnostic support
  • Getting risk support – crisis prevention

This PowerPoint presentation explains the pathways in more detail.

To view information about autism support services across Cheshire East visit our Local Offer.