Assessment and diagnosis of autism

Information about assessment and diagnosis of autism in children and young people.

This page has information about assessment and diagnosis of autism in children and young people. You can find information relating to adults getting an autism diagnosis in our adults section.

Suspecting autism

If you suspect that your child may be autistic, or is displaying autistic tendencies, your first step would be to speak to your:

  • GP
  • Health Visitor
  • Nursery manager/ SENCo
  • School teacher/ SENCo (Special Education Needs Co-ordinator) A SENCo is a qualified teacher in a school or nursery who has responsibility for co-ordinating SEN provision. ​

In preparation for your meeting with any of the above, it might be useful to keep a behaviour diary for your child and write down your concerns and questions to take with you.

After speaking to any of the above professionals, they may refer you to any of the following services within B&NES: 

What might happen next?

If autism is suspected, your child may be referred for a provisional assessment (sometimes these are referred to as an Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) assessment, or a Developmental, Dimensional and Diagnostic Interview (3di), or the Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised (ADI-R)). See below for information on the assessment.

Your child will be invited to several assessments with a number of different professionals, there is a list of these professionals, along with a description of what they do on the website. 

In B&NES there is a Single Point of Access route to requesting an Autism assessment, and you can request a form by contacting the Children’s Community Services:

Generally the current time it takes from referral to diagnosis within Bath and North East Somerset is 15-20 months. 

How is autism diagnosed?

Everyone with autism will experience it differently, but to be diagnosed they must have the following from early childhood which limits and impairs their everyday ability to function:

  • Persistent difficulties with social communication and social interactions;
  • Restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviour, activities and interests.

The Assessment

Your child and you will be invited along to an assessment, and these assessments will take place at a local clinic, such as St Martins, Paulton or Keynsham Health Centre, GP surgeries or child's school. 

During the assessment, the team will speak to you and your child to help them get to know your child. They may ask questions about:

  • What your child is good at and what they find difficult;
  • Any worries you have about your child;
  • How your child interacts at school or nursery and in other social situations;
  • How your child talks to and interacts with other people, both familiar and unfamiliar
  • What your child was like as a baby, when they reached certain milestones (might be worth taking your child's health record 'red book' if the details are in there).

The team may also need to visit your child at school/ nursery or home and arrange other assessments. This will help them plan support for you and your child.

The assessment will indicate whether your child is likely to be referred on for a formal diagnosis, and this will be fully discussed with you once the results have been assessed. 

Some children and young people will have features of autistic behaviour however will not reach the threshold for formal diagnosis. Sometimes this can be because the child has been assessed too early and you may be offered a 'Watch and Wait' approach. In these circumstances you may be re-offered an assessment at a later date, or a Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) meeting may be held to discuss your child's individual needs and how these can be supported. If the assessment conclusion is definitively not autism, this will still enable professionals, parents and carers to determine the level of support your child needs and consider referrals to appropriate support services as determined by the needs of your child.

It's important to note here that if your child does not receive a formal diagnosis, support for their needs will still be provided. You should liaise closely with the professionals who have been involved thus far. They will ensure a unique package of support for you and your child is in place to build on their skills, strengths and any areas needing additional attention, and this is likely to include support from a variety of ongoing support services. 

Benefits of diagnosis


There are a number of benefits in diagnosing autism, including:

  • helping those with autism and the people around them understand why they may experience certain difficulties and how they can be supported;
  • allowing access to services and support for the autistic person and the people that support them.

More information about the assessment and diagnosis process on the website.

Adults diagnosis

Visit the adults section for information relating to adults receiving an autism diagnosis