The Children & Young People's Autism Service is the autism service for South Staffordshire being provided by Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

The service can be accessed by:

Please note: Referrals into the service can only be made by a professional who has met with the child and family.

All referrals will be triaged by an NHS practitioner.

Find the referral form here: Children and Young People’s Autism Service referral form (.doc). Please complete the form and forward to autism.referrals@mpft.nhs.uk.

If an assessment is appropriate, the young person will receive a face-to-face assessment to help the practitioner understand the current difficulties.

Once the team has completed their assessment, they will talk through the options available, so that together we can plan and agree the best support.

Should a referral not be deemed to be appropriate, practitioners may contact referrers for more information or will signpost the family/young person to other services.

 

Teacher Liaison form

Find the form here: Children and Young People's Autism Service Teacher Liaison form (.doc)

NB: Teacher Liaison forms can only be accepted when completed by a school or other health professional. When sending your completed form to the team, please ensure it is password protected.

Cartoon of Helen BossHelen Boss

Role: Team Leader

Helen has a background is in business and finance. After working for many years in the private sector for a range of professional services she joined the Autism service in 2011 and has worked closely with service users and commissioners during this time to help develop services that meet the needs of the children, young people and their families who have a diagnosis of autism. Helen has recently completed the Leading Quality Improvement training with MPFT and is looking forward to working with the team to implement that learning into the Autism service.


Clarissa MartinCartoon of Clarissa Martin

Role: Consultant Clinical Pschologist

Clarissa has 38 years of clinical experience working with children with physical health, neuro-developmental and learning disabilities problems and their families. She is an expert in child health and written several books and published papers in peer review journals.


Cartoon of Sandra EadesDr Sandra Eades

Role: Consultant Psychiatrist

Dr Eades is a qualified medical doctor who decided to specialise in mental health and has worked in Child Psychiatry for the last 24 years – 20 of them in her current post. Dr Eades works with children and young people with a variety of mental health issues. She is currently providing sessions into the Autism Service and works closely with the team and meets with them regularly.


Cartoon of Milena FisherMilena Fisher

Role: Clinical Pschologist

Milena has been working in a specialist autism service in Dresden, Germany for the past 18 months. There she was involved in assessment and treatment of children, young people and adults with autism. Before that she has been working for over 15 years in the NHS, which included 12 years as a clinical psychologist in CAMHS in Lichfield.


Vicki LloydCartoon of Vicki Lloyd

Role: Clinical Psychologist

Vicki completed a PhD in Psychology before undertaking Clinical Psychology doctorate training and qualifying in 2005. Vicki has worked with children and families across NHS, local authority and independent sectors and has specialist interest in working with individuals with Autism, Learning Disabilities, Looked after Children and those with attachment difficulties or developmental trauma. Vicki has worked in children and young people’s autism services since 2016 and within the service she specialises in the assessment and diagnosis of autism.


Cartoon of Mandeep KaurMandeep Kaur

Role: Counselling Psychologist

Mandeep has worked with children for the past several years; focusing on specialist autism services since 2017. She also has experience working with people of all ages, and in primary and secondary care across NHS and independent services. She focuses on the assessment and diagnosis of autism.


Katie VandewalleCartoon of Katie Vandewalle

Role: Clinical Psychologist

Katie has a passion in working with young people and their families having worked in CAMHS, Autism, and Looked After Children's services. During her doctorate training she developed skills in cognitive, behavioural and relational based therapies which she will draw on in her practice within the team.


Cartoon of Jivone BhandalJivone Bhandal

Role: ASC Practitioner

Jivone has experience working with children, adolescents and adults who have mental health difficulties. She has extensive experience working with a range of difficulties such as autism, anxiety, depression, phobias, obsessive compulsive disorder, stress, anger and relational issues.

She conducts autism assessments and provides interventions to families. Jivone likes to work in an integrative way drawing upon various therapeutic models to help young people and families. She likes to be transparent in her work and offers a non-judgemental, confidential space where she likes to build a rapport with her client base.


Cartoon of Jon HodgkinsJon Hodgkins

Role: Clinical Nurse Specialist

Jon has spent a number of years working with young people within inpatient services who have autism, and will be a vital part of supporting the team and families with assessments and a range of interventions.


Cartoon of Janice HarrisonJanice Harrison

Role: Occupational Therapist

Janice qualified as an Occupational Therapist (OT) in 1982 and has worked in a number of OT roles, including with children and young adults. In her role, Janice will carry out full occupational therapy assessments, which will also include understanding the child’s sensory processing needs and the impact on their daily life. From this, goals will be developed alongside recommendations to improve and support their home and school life, as well as within their community.


Cartoon of Claire Baugh

Claire Baugh

Role: Occupational Therapist

Claire left her role as a teaching assistant to pursue a career in Occupational Therapy, completing her training at Coventry University. She has previously worked for Black Country Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and has a great deal of knowledge and experience in delivering both 1:1 and group sessions to support families.


Cartoon of Rebecca BorharaRebecca Borhara

Role: Senior Speech and Language Therapist

Rebecca qualified as a Speech and Language Therapist in 2007 and has since completed a Post Graduate degree in Language and Communication Impairment in Children while developing a specialism in Autism Spectrum Condition and Developmental Language Disorders. She has worked with children, young people and adults across the NHS, within the justice system and independent sectors. Rebecca has been part of the team since February 2020 and specialises in the assessment and diagnosis of ASC and associated communication difficulties.


Cartoon of Lisa ChristophorouLisa Christophou

Role: Speech and Language Therapist

Lisa has a clinical specialism in supporting young children and families with complex speech and language needs. Since qualifying in 2009 she has enjoyed roles in early years, complex needs and special school teams.


Vandana PatelCartoon of Vandana Patel

Role: Therapy Assistant Practitioner

Vandana has more than five years of experience working in mental health services, ranging from inpatient to community settings. She recently qualified as a Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner at the University of Northampton, has experience of delivering 1:1 interventions and facilitating groups to clients and families/ carers.


Jack JacksonCartoon of Jack Jackson

Role: Assistant Psychologist

After graduating in 2017 with a degree in Psychology, Jack volunteered in a primary school. Since then he has been working in a CAMHS hospital with 11-18-year-olds, including working with young people on the autistic spectrum.


Jaha PinneyCartoon of Jaha Pinney

Role: Assistant Psychologist

Jaha previously worked at Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trust within their pre-school autism service. She brings a great deal of knowledge to support the team with assessments and interventions and will be working with her fellow Assistant Psychologists to develop new workshops to support families across South Staffordshire.


Cartoon of Lee ScargillLee Scargill

Role: Assistant Psychologist

Lee has been working with children, young people and young adults with autism since 2016. He graduated from Aberystwyth University in 2015 and has been using his experience and knowledge to support families in Staffordshire, delivering a range of workshops and specific 1:1 interventions and providing advice and support for urgent duty calls where families require immediate advice for a difficult or complex situation.  Lee has also just commenced training in Personal Construct Psychology and level 1 Family Therapy which will provide new ways of working for families receiving support.


James LaffertyCartoon of James Lafferty

Role: Assistant Psychologist

James graduated at University of Nottingham in 2016 and has been working as an Assistant Psychologist at the Huntercombe Group in Birmingham since 2018. James has a range of experience in delivering 1:1 and group therapy sessions including anger management, mindful coping, problem solving and ‘all about me’ autism awareness groups. 


Chrissy Betteley
Cartoon of Chrissy Betteley.png

Role: Assistant Psychologist

Chrissy has been working with the team since January 2017. She graduated from Staffordshire University in 2016 with a 1st class Psychology degree and, since graduating has completed a Level 4 certificate in Counselling. Chrissy has a wealth of experience working with children and families delivering both 1:1 and group interventions, and also providing duty calls to families in need. Chrissy has previously worked in various roles, including working with children in care as a support worker, working with adults with mental health difficulties in the community and working as an early years practitioner in a pre-school. Chrissy is also involved in helping with autism assessments, including observations and cognitive assessments.


Sarah PeatfieldCartoon of Sarah Peatfield

Role: Team Secretary

Sarah has been an integral part of the Autism service since May 2018. As part of her administrative role she assists families via telephone, manages clinical diaries and deals with the range of correspondence coming into the service, including referrals for assessment and intervention. Sarah is shortly due to commence a secondment as PA for the Autism Service Manager, but will continue to have daily contact with the Autism team and our families.


Cartoon of Abigale WatersAbigale Waters

Role: Team Secretary

Abi commenced her role in October 2020. She has over seven years of admin experience within the NHS and hopes to use her skills to give patients and families the best service and care alongside the Autism team.


Rebecca BlundredCartoon of Rebecca Blundred

Rebecca is currently assisting the admin team with general enquiries. She has many years’ experience in the admin field supporting the Autism team and continues to develop her knowledge base.

 


Abbey BossCartoon of Abbey Boss

Abbey is currently assisting the admin team with general enquiries and administration tasks. Abbey has over seven years’ experience of working within the admin field.

The team have arranged the following interactive online workshops for families to take part in from their homes.

Places are limited for these sessions, so you are therefore recommended to email the team at cypautismservice@mpft.nhs.uk to book your place as soon as possible – thank you.

These sessions will be hosted by the team using Microsoft Teams. Once you have called the team to book your place, you will be sent a web link to access the appropriate session.

NB: You do not need to have Microsoft Teams installed on your computer to join this meeting. Click ‘watch on the web instead’ to view via your web browser.

We ask that anyone who has booked onto a session at any of our workshops and is unable to attend to contact the service to let us know so we can offer your place to another family.

The Autism Toolbox is a 10-week intervention programme for parents/carers in South Staffordshire whose child or young person has recently received a diagnosis of autism and a programme of support sessions for families who only require advice and strategies for specific areas of need to support their child or young person at home on a day-to-day basis.

The team strongly recommends that families in receipt of a recent diagnosis attend all 10 sessions. For other families who only require specific areas of support, there are places reserved for ad hoc attendance depending on need.

We would ask that families confirm places as soon as possible and as these are limited, we would kindly ask that should you not be able to attend a session you have booked, then you inform the team to enable other families who are awaiting support to have the opportunity to attend.

Details of the next cohort will be shared soon.

Week 1: Introduction

The first week’s session is a general introduction to our service and what makes up the autism diagnosis (the triad of impairment). There will be the opportunity to discuss your current concerns and questions so that the course moving forward can be specifically tailored to the needs of the people attending.

Week 2: Communication (Part 1)

This session is aimed at looking into the first two areas of the triad of impairment – communication and interaction. We will discuss how aspects of communication can be difficult and how the experience of someone with autism may differ in terms of their communication needs.

Week 3: Communication (Part 2)

This session will continue with any questions or concerns from the previous week, but there will additionally be more of a focus on strategies that can be put in place in the home to support with the difficulties discussed.

Week 4: Rigidity

This sessions discusses the third area of the triad, which is the rigid and repetitive behaviour/ thinking that can sometimes be seen in people with autism. We will be looking at coping with change, how to introduce new ideas and ultimately look at how we can help our children be a little more comfortable outside their comfort zone.

Week 5: Sleep

This session focusses on one of the most common and underrated difficulties seem in autism. Sleep affects everything from general functioning to anxiety, and if the sleep isn’t good it has a knock on effect on everything else. During this session we will be talking about sleep hygiene and strategies to use at home to work towards a better sleep routine that should hopefully have a positive impact on other areas of life.

Week 6: Sensory workshop (Part 1)

These two sessions are aimed at discussing sensation and how we interpret the world around us; what makes us feel comfortable and uncomfortable with regard to our senses, what this experience is like for people with autism, and of course discussing strategies to support with these difficulties.

Week 7: Sensory workshop (Part 2)

These two sessions are aimed at discussing sensation and how we interpret the world around us; what makes us feel comfortable and uncomfortable with regard to our senses, what this experience is like for people with autism, and of course discussing strategies to support with these difficulties.

Week 8: Managing behaviours that challenge (Part 1)

We are all capable of displaying behaviours that challenges others and 100% of the time there is a reason behind this behaviour. In this session we aim to address the behaviour that you experience, that you find challenging and help support you to manage the behaviours you are seeing at home. This can be anything from aggression, to saying please and thank you. This group recognises that both you and your child have your own needs and goals – it is not about compromise, it is about finding the behaviours that get everyone’s needs met in the quickest easiest way.

Week 9: Anxiety

Anxiety and stress is one of the most highly sought after groups in our service and one of the most frequent concerns we see. We are happy to provide this group for parents to explain what anxiety is, where it comes from, why we have it, and most of all how to manage it. In this session we hope to address some of the concerns you have regarding your child’s anxieties and how to support them manage this better through practice of tried and tested strategies.

Week 10: Managing behaviours that challenge (Part 2) and closing strategies/feedback

The final week of the course is split into two. The first part is to follow up on resources provided in the previous behaviour programme and address any further concerns. The second part is to check in on families, what you have found useful, any additional information you would like to know and the opportunity for some closing discussions with the families and staff you have been working with throughout the course.

The current situation is generating a lot of anxiety and the Trust is doing all it can to provide support.

MPFT has set up a 24/7 urgent NHS mental health service providing telephone support, advice and triage. 

The number to call for people living in South Staffordshire is 0808 196 3002.

Office hours

  • Contact the Children and Young People’s Autism service on 0300 303 0691 - the service is open 9:00am - 5:00pm, Monday to Friday
  • Contact the First Response (social care and health) service on 0800 1313 126 - the service is open 8:30am - 5:00pm, Monday to Thursday, and 8:30am - 4:30pm on Friday

Out of hours (evenings, weekends or bank holidays)

In the event of a medical emergency please go straight to A&E.

If you wish to be added to the distribution list for these updates please email communications@mpft.nhs.uk with the subject line ‘Children and Young People’s Autism Service update’.

The service update is issued monthly - check the Trust’s Facebook page or this service web page for the latest news.

Children and Young People's Autism Service Update - November 2021 (pdf)

Children and Young People's Autism Service Update - October 2021 (pdf)

Children and Young People's Autism Service Update - September 2021 (pdf)

Children and Young People's Autism Service Update - August 2021 (pdf)

Children and Young People's Autism Service Update - July 2021 (pdf)

Children and Young People's Autism Service Update - June 2021 (pdf)

Children and Young People's Autism Service Update - May 2021 (pdf)

Children and Young People's Autism Service Update - April 2021 (pdf)

Children and Young People's Autism Service Update - March 2021 (pdf)

Children and Young People's Autism Service Update - February 2021 (pdf)

Children and Young People's Autism Service Update - January 2021 (pdf)

Children and Young People's Autism Service Update - 21 December 2020 (pdf)

Children and Young People's Autism Service Update - 7 December 2020 (pdf)

Children and Young People's Autism Service Update - 23 November 2020 (pdf)

Children and Young People's Autism Service Update - 9 November 2020 (pdf)

Children and Young People's Autism Service Update - 26 October 2020 (pdf)

Children and Young People's Autism Service Update - 12 October 2020 (pdf)

Children and Young People's Autism Service Update - 28 September 2020 (pdf)

Children and Young People's Autism Service Update - 14 September 2020 (pdf)

Children and Young People's Autism Service Update - 1 September 2020 (pdf)

Children and Young People's Autism Service Update - 17 August 2020 (pdf)

Children and Young People's Autism Service Update - 3 August 2020 (pdf)

Children and Young People's Autism Service Update - 20 July 2020 (pdf)

Children and Young People's Autism Service Update - 6 July 2020 (pdf)

Children and Young People's Autism Service Update - 22 June 2020 (pdf)

Children and Young People's Autism Service Update - 5 June 2020 (pdf)

Children and Young People's Autism Service Update - 26 May 2020 (pdf)

Children and Young People's Autism Service Update - 11 May 2020 (pdf)

Children and Young People's Autism Service Update - 27 April 2020 (pdf)

Children and Young People's Autism Service Update - 14 April 2020 (pdf)

Children and Young People's Autism Service Weekly Update - 6 April 2020 (pdf)

Children and Young People's Autism Service Weekly Update - 30 March 2020 (pdf)

Children and Young People's Autism Service Weekly Update - 23 March 2020 (pdf)

Children and Young People's Autism Service Weekly Update - 16 March 2020 (pdf)

Children and Young People's Autism Service Weekly Update - 6 March 2020 (pdf)

Children and Young People's Autism Service Weekly Update - 28 February 2020 (pdf)

Children and Young People's Autism Service Weekly Update - 21 February 2020 (pdf)

Children and Young People's Autism Service Weekly Update - 14 February 2020 (pdf)

Children and Young People's Autism Service Weekly Update - 7 February 2020 (pdf)

Children and Young People's Autism Service Weekly Update - 31 January 2020 (pdf)

Children and Young People's Autism Service Weekly Update - 24 January 2020 (pdf)

Children and Young People's Autism Service Weekly Update - 17 January 2020 (pdf)

Children and Young People’s Autism Service Weekly Update - 10 January 2020 (pdf)

Children and Young People’s Autism Service Weekly Update - 20 December 2019 (pdf)

Children and Young People’s Autism Service Weekly Update - 13 December 2019 (pdf)

Children and Young People’s Autism Service Weekly Update - 6 December 2019 (pdf)

Children and Young People’s Autism Service Weekly Update - 29 November 2019 (pdf)

Children and Young People’s Autism Service Weekly Update - 22 November 2019 (pdf)

Children and Young People’s Autism Service Weekly Update - 15 November 2019 (pdf)

Children and Young People’s Autism Service Weekly Update - 8 November 2019 (pdf)

Children and Young People’s Autism Service Weekly Update - 1 November 2019 (pdf)

Children and Young People’s Autism Service Weekly Update - 25 October 2019 (pdf)

Children and Young People’s Autism Service Weekly Update - 18 October 2019 (pdf)

Children and Young People's Autism Service Weekly Update - 11 October 2019 (pdf)

Children and Young People's Autism Service Weekly Update - 4 October 2019 (pdf)

Click here to view Frequently Asked Questions about the Children and Young People's Autism Service.

Alternatively, you can find the FAQs below:

 

Who is MPFT?

Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (MPFT) is an integrated organisation that provides physical and mental health, learning disabilities and adult social care services.

The majority of our services are delivered in Staffordshire, Stoke-on-Trent, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin. Through Inclusion, part of our Specialist care group, we cover much of England.

Our services are organised into four care groups, each with a Managing Director, Clinical and Care Director and Head of Operations. Services for children and young people in Staffordshire are managed within the Children and Families Care Group.

What does the Children and Young People’s Autism Service provide?

The service provides autism assessment and intervention for children and young people in South Staffordshire

The service provides assessment in line with National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidance, including diagnosis by a multi-disciplinary team (MDT).  The service will assess children and young people up to their 19th birthday.

The service provides support to autistic children and young people, and their families up to the age of 19 in most cases, but up to the age of their 25th birthday if the young person has an EHCP (education health and care plan). As autism is a spectrum the sort of support or intervention that is suitable will depend on the needs of each young person. 

We aim to equip young people and their families with strategies to support them to live fulfilled lives. Our foundation for doing this is the Autism Toolbox. This series of workshops for parents covers a range of topics, including communication, rigidity, sleep, sensory differences, managing behaviours that challenge and anxiety and Introduction to Autism. It provides parents with an opportunity to meet other parents and we have had feedback that this has helped with informal support networks. More details of this can be found on the Children and Young People’s Autism Service web page via the MPFT website.

For some young people more specific or individual intervention may be required. What the service provides will depend on an individual assessment or need and this could be individual or group therapy. All our intervention will be evidenced based. We also provide a telephone advice and consultation service during working hours to other professionals (including schools) and parents/carers to support autistic young people.

The service works closely with other services which deliver care and support to young people including services provided by MPFT such as community paediatrics, the Children’s Learning Disability team, CAMHS, Community Speech and Language and children's Occupational Therapy, and services provided by Staffordshire County Council, such as Educational Psychology and Autism Outreach to ensure care is ‘joined up’.

Who works in the service?

The service consists of a range of professionals including psychologists and psychology assistants, speech and language therapists, nurses, occupational therapists, psychiatrists and has sessional input from a community paediatrician. You can meet the team on the Children and Young People’s Autism Service web page via the MPFT website.

Where is service based?

The service has an administrative hub at:

  • The Bridge, St George's Parkway, off Crooked Bridge Road, Stafford, ST16 3WT

Appointments with the service will be at a range of local community venues including:

  • The Bridge, St George's Parkway, off Crooked Bridge Road, Stafford, ST16 3WT
  • Cross Street Clinic, Cross Street, Burton-on-Trent, DE14 1EG
  • Arygle Street, Tamworth, B77 3EN
  • Holly Lodge, Lichfield, WS13 6EF

We also use other local bases and venues, depending on where referrals are from.

I was receiving care from the previous provider – will you have my records?

The current service transferred to MPFT in October 2019. Records were transferred to the service by the previous provider for all children and young people who they identified as waiting for an assessment or intervention, or who were midway through an assessment or intervention at the time of transfer. Records were also transferred for children and young people who had been given a ‘working diagnosis’ in the 18 months before transfer.

If your child or young person received care from the previous provider and did not fall into the category above MPFT will request the records from the previous provider.

How do people refer into this service?

We accept referrals for assessment by any professional who has met with the child and family. We welcome referrals from schools or other settings, as through our experience schools and educational providers know young people well. There is no need for schools or other professionals to ask the young person’s GP to make a referral into us. Our referral form can be found by clicking Self-referral form - Children and Young People’s Autism Service - MPFT. Please complete the form and forward to autism.referrals@mpft.nhs.uk

We would ask schools to also complete a ‘Teacher Liaison Form’ available via Teacher Liaison Form - Children and Young People’s Autism Service - MPFT. Completion of this will significantly streamline the assessment process and reduce delays in obtaining this from schools. Should schools need advice on completing the School Liaison form the please contact the office on 0300 303 0691 and we will be happy to provide advice.

All referrals will be triaged by members of our multi-disciplinary team.

Should an assessment not be deemed to be appropriate, practitioners may contact referrers for more information or will signpost the family/young person to other services.

If your young person has a diagnosis (or a working diagnosis from the previous provider) we accept self-referral for support and intervention by contacting the service by:

What happens when I am referred for assessment?

Before the assessment, with your permission, we will seek additional information about your child’s current strengths and difficulties at nursery, school or college. We will collect this information by asking the school’s Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo) or class teacher to fill in a semi structured questionnaire. It is helpful if you can let them know that we are going to contact them to request this information.

Once we have received this information you will be offered an initial appointment; this is usually by telephone or video consultation. This first appointment is with parents/carers and a professional to get a good understanding of your child or young person’s development.  We use a structured tool called the ADI-R. This is an in-depth interview and can take up to two hours.

The parent and the specialist will go over the child’s medical history (and earlier assessments made), how they behave in general, key developmental milestones your child has passed, and any speech and language concerns.

The questions explore the child’s behaviour patterns in three key areas. These are the areas most affected by ASD:

  • Social interactions - How does the child engage with the people in their life? For example, do they make eye contact? Do they smile and use facial expressions to communicate? Do they seem interested in playing with other children? And do they engage in imaginary play with their peers.
  • Communication & language - Is the child trying to communicate? If your child is non-verbal, do they attempt to communicate in other ways such as gestures, eye gaze, pointing or leading by the hand? If your child is verbal, are there any concerns you may have around speech and language
  • Repetitive and repetitive behaviours - Do they have repetitive rituals?

Following this assessment, the majority of young people will be offered a face-to-face play-based assessment called ADOS (Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule), to look at their current profile of strengths and difficulties. The ADOS is a standardised assessment that allows us to look for social and communication behaviours that are typical of autism spectrum conditions. It consists of age-appropriate games, books, imaginary play or activities and conversation with one clinician. We hope this experience will be enjoyable and not feel like a ‘test’. At the end of the ADOS, observations are summed in pre-arranged categories.  With children over the age of about five, it is better for family members not to be present during the ADOS, as we find the child often looks to the parent for answers to questions. The ADOS can take up to one hour to complete.

Additional information such as assessments from other professionals and school reports may also be beneficial. The team have a pathway in place for children and young people under 5 who are well known to community paediatrics to prevent any duplication of assessment. There are also pathways in place with community speech and language therapy; however, do bring along anything you think may be useful to share with us.

My child has not been seen by the service before but has been diagnosed by another provider, but I feel that they now need support – how do I access the service?

Parents/carers can complete a self-referral form by clicking Self-referral form - Children and Young People’s Autism Service - MPFT and email it to cypautismservice@mpft.nhs.uk

If your child has been assessed prior to October 2019 please send us proof of a full or working diagnosis and this will be reviewed by our multi disciplinary team (MDT) to ensure the diagnosis is NICE & MDT compliant. The service also has a duty worker available to discuss urgent concerns by telephone on 0300 303 0691 (9am-5pm, Monday to Friday) regarding your child.

How long will I have to wait to be seen?

We aim to commence assessment for autism within 12 weeks of receiving your referral.  This can be significantly impacted by waiting for information from schools, hence we encourage school referral and/or for support from parents to obtain a completed teacher liaison form.

We have a contractual target of 26 weeks to complete the assessment from start to finish. We are working on ways to significantly reduce this.

Please be aware that due to the COVID pandemic we had to stop face-to-face ADOS assessments for a period and that this has generated a backlog for people mid assessment. We are currently working on ways to offer more appointments for ADOS whilst also facilitating access to the service to commence assessment.

As a service we understand your needs are urgent and we aim to address these as soon as possible as part of our intervention pathway.

What if I have an urgent need and need to contact you for advice or support?

If you need urgent help from the service between the hours of 9am-5pm from Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays) you can call 0300 303 0691 and speak to the duty worker.

You can also contact the First Response (social care and health) service on 0800 1313 126 - the service is open 8.30am-5pm, Monday to Thursday and 8.30am-4.30pm on Friday

If you need urgent help out of hours (evenings, weekends or bank holidays) please contact:

  • First Response Emergency Duty Team on 0345 604 2886

For urgent mental health crisis out of hours MPFT do provide a help line on 0808 196 3002

In the event of a medical emergency please go straight to A&E.

What is the access number for the Children & Young People’s Autism Service?

The team will be available between 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays).

How can I access records from the service?

Parents can also make a Subject Access Request (SAR) more details on how to access your records can be found via Your Rights - MPFT.

What is the position on additional diagnoses such as pathological demand avoidance (PDA), sensory processing disorder (SPD), dyspraxia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) etc.?

Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA)

Pathological demand avoidance (PDA) was a term first used by Professor Elizabeth Newson in the 1980s, to describe the profile of a group of children she had seen for assessment. PDA first appeared in a journal article in 2003: Pathological demand avoidance syndrome: a necessary distinction within the pervasive developmental disorders - British Medical Journal. Elizabeth Newson described PDA as sitting under the umbrella of pervasive developmental disorder. The diagnostic criteria for autism are continually reviewed and developed. Currently the categories of pervasive developmental disorders are now being replaced by autism spectrum conditions: Autism spectrum conditions in under 19s: recognition, referral and diagnosis - NICE.

Pathological demand avoidance (PDA) is increasingly, but not universally, accepted as a profile that is seen in some autistic people. The term extreme demand avoidance emerged as an alternative term to pathological demand avoidance (pathological demand avoidance: exploring the behavioural profile - PubMed.gov) as some feel extreme is a more acceptable term than pathological.

The existence of PDA as a ‘diagnostic term’ and how it fits within the autism spectrum is widely debated. With limited evidence-based research there is no conclusive and agreed upon definition of PDA. What is generally agreed upon is what is often referred to as a PDA profile. People with a PDA profile are driven to avoid everyday demands and expectations to an extreme extent. This demand avoidance is often (but according to some PDA adults, not always) accompanied by high levels of anxiety.

As PDA is not a formally recognised diagnostic category in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM V), our team would not make a formal diagnosis; however if demand avoidance is a key feature of your child’s profile we would make it known in any reports and support you in putting in place suitable management strategies.

For more information please see Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA) - National Autistic Society.

Sensory processing disorder (SPD)

Sensory processing refers to the way the nervous system receives messages from the senses and turns them into appropriate motor and behavioural responses. ‘Sensory Processing Disorder’, is not a diagnosis that is currently recognised in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM V), however that is not to say your child may not have sensory processing difficulties.  Many children with an autism spectrum condition will have sensory processing difficulties associated with their diagnosis.  These children might be too sensitive to certain sensations such as loud noises, smells, the feel of their clothes or another person’s touch. They might actively try to avoid these sensations through certain behaviours.

Some children are not sensitive enough to certain sensations such as food around their mouth, movement and body position. They might actively seek sensations through behaviours such as chewing non-food items, fidgeting or being generally on the go.

Sensory processing can be very variable from one day to the next and from one child to another.

We know that children with high levels of anxiety tend to display a higher level of sensory sensitivity; i.e. more sensitive to sensations such as noise, touch, smells and tastes. We also know that children who are struggling to communicate and express their emotions or needs sometimes use sensory behaviours to gain attention. It is important to consider both of these things in the context of sensory processing difficulties and address them alongside the sensory behaviours.

Ayres Sensory Integration Therapy/Intervention (ASI) is a form of therapy which aims to change the child’s underlying neural pathways and remedy the child’s impairment in sensory processing. We do not offer ASI as it is not an approach that is recommended by the Royal College of Occupational Therapy or NICE guidelines for Autism. However, we follow the Royal College of OT guidelines to focus on helping an individual to manage not change their sensory differences.

When a child/young person is referred to occupational therapy as part of the ASC service an occupational therapy assessment will be carried out using a range of assessments which could include sensory processing assessments if the practitioner felt it was appropriate.

If it is identified that sensory difficulties are impacting a child/ young person’s level of functioning, appropriate recommendations and care planning will reflect any sensory strategies alongside other occupational therapy recommendations/ interventions.

More information about sensory difficulties is available via Sensory differences - National Autistic Society.

Dyspraxia

Developmental co-ordination disorder (DCD), also known as dyspraxia, is a condition affecting physical co-ordination. It causes a child to perform less well than expected in daily activities for their age and appear to move clumsily.

Dyspraxia is thought to be caused by the way that the brain processes information, which results in messages not being properly or fully transmitted. It affects the planning of what to do and how to do it, and is associated with problems of perception, language and thought. Dyspraxia sometimes runs in families.

While it is distinct from autism spectrum conditions many parents notice similar symptoms, including sensory processing issues. In some cases, the two conditions can co-occur. As with autism, people with dyspraxia may be over- or under-sensitive to certain sensory stimuli. MPFT has a pathway for dyspraxia in our Community Paediatrics service, including an OT/Physio joint clinic. If the CYP autism team think it appropriate a referral to support to this service will be made.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

ADHD is common in people with autism. If someone has ADHD, they have significant difficulties with things like poor attention, over-activity and impulsiveness. MPFT are currently reviewing the pathway for diagnosis and intervention for children with ADHD. We hope to move towards a more integrated neuro-developmental offer. This is subject to service redesign and further discussions with the CCG. If the CYP autism team think it appropriate a referral can be made to paediatrics or CAMHS depending on criteria.  However, we would recommend for children or young people that have received a recent diagnosis, we would recommend gaining a greater understanding of their autism and implementing strategies before considering further assessment for ADHD.

More information is available via Related conditions - a guide for all audiences - National Autistic Society.

What is the service provision for ARFID (Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder)

We have been commissioned by the CCGs to provide an autism assessment and intervention service. The specification and requirements for a specialist feeding support or ARFID (Avoidance Restrictive Food Intake Disorder) are different.  MPFT, however, have recently received some investment to expand the scope of the Eating Disorders Service to provide support to CYP with ARFID.  This service is being mobilised in late 2021/early 2022 (as we recruit to new workforce). There will be close working relationships between the CYP Autism Service and the Eating Disorders Team, as well as community dietetics to ensure appropriate support to young people with feeding difficulties. More information about ARFID can be found via ARFID - Beat Eating Disorders.

What is the service provision for young people with a ‘working diagnosis’?

MPFTs South Staffordshire Children and Young People’s Autism Service has been working hard to ensure it operates in line with the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidance.  This guidance is based on the best available evidence, and a key part of which is ensuring that assessments the service undertakes are discussed by a multi-disciplinary team prior to a diagnosis being given. The service has not been and will not be providing a working diagnosis to children or young people as this is not in line with NICE guidance. 

Children assessed by the MPFT service will be able to access intervention once they have a full diagnosis of autism. In those instances where a ‘working diagnosis’ is provided from other organisations, unfortunately this is not classed as a full diagnosis and we cannot offer intervention.  We appreciate that this is confusing to some families and wish to minimise the impact of this situation. As such, if a ‘working diagnosis’ was provided up to October 2019 then you can still access the MPFT service for advice and intervention if required. If a ‘working diagnosis’ has been provided by another organisation since October 2019 then we apologise that we cannot accept this request for intervention and we advise that you contact your assessor or request a referral to our autism service where an assessment can be made if applicable.

Given the volumes of young people who transferred to us in October 2019 with a working diagnosis, unfortunately, we currently do not have commissioned capacity to review all young people who were given a working diagnosis as well as assess those without a current diagnosis and provide intervention. As a working diagnosis facilitates access to Autism Outreach and our ASC team the risk of not reviewing these diagnoses is considered to be lower risk than not providing assessment to those without a diagnosis or diverting support from providing intervention to those with a need.  We continue to work with the CCG to develop a strategy for this cohort of young people.


Design our new logo competition

CYP Autism Service - Logo Competition Form.pngWe're looking for a new logo to represent us, and we want you to help. Time to get creative!

You can draw, paint, colour or anything else you can think of. We want something that represents autism and our service - something uniquely ours.

To enter, print off Design our new logo Competition Entry Form (pdf) and create your design in the white circle. Once you're done, email your entry to cypautismservice@mpft.nhs.uk with the subject 'Design a logo comp'.

Don't have a printer? That's okay. Find some paper and get a mug or a glass, turn it upside down and draw a circle on the page. Do your design in this and send it in with your name and date of birth. You can even take a clear photo of it and send that in.

By submitting an image to us you give us permission to use the image for our service.

Good luck!


Art Gallery

Autism Art Gallery PosterThe service is launching an online art gallery for young people, families and carers to share an image about what autism means to you.

You are invited to share an image about ‘What autism means to me’.

The image can be in any medium i.e. paint, pencil, photo etc.

Selected artworks will be exhibited in a virtual gallery here, so you can see what other people have getting up to creatively. We hope this will be a bit of fun as well as a source of inspiration for everyone and an opportunity to exhibit your work

If you’d like to take part, please email photos of your artwork to cypautismservice@mpft.nhs.uk (please use the words 'Online Art Gallery' in the subject header).

How to enter

The gallery is open to young people under age of 25 with a diagnosis of autism living in South Staffordshire.

An entry form, including a range of FAQs and help on how to get help with submitting work is available here: Art Gallery Entry Form (.docx).

 

We are the dreamers

The pioneers

The change-makers

The future business leaders

We are the trailblazers

The adventurers

The discoverers

We are the Einsteins and Bransons of tomorrow


Service videos

Introduction to autism - support for parents / carers

Sensory Processing Introductory Workshop

Supporting young people to manage behaviour

Supporting children and young people with anxiety

Meet the team - Speech and Language Therapist

Children and Young People's Autism Service Contact Details