The work being undertaken is outlined within the Written Statement of Action (WSoA) and divided into Improvement Priority (IP) areas.
As part of IP5 ‘make it easier for those with Autism Spectrum Conditions to get diagnosed and supported’, work is progressing with the aim for any child in Somerset who needs an Autism / ADHD assessment to be able to access one in a timely manner.
The team, which includes headteachers representing primary, secondary and special schools, has engaged with families, as well as colleagues across education, health and social care, to identify where the weakness are and design a new standardised system-wide approach.
A pre-assessment pathway for children and young people (aged 5-17) has been created to support teaching staff and Special Educational Needs Coordinators (SENCOs) to identify children who need an Autism and/or ADHD assessment.
This is because one of the priority areas of need identified are children who reach school age but have not yet had an Autism / ADHD assessment. Autism only affects 1-2% of children but concern about a possible Autism diagnosis arises far more frequently. The proportion of children put forward for medical assessment is also far higher than this. The majority of children who present with a variety of behaviours that challenge in fact have other needs.
The three main objectives for the workstream are:
- Enable schools to make referrals for Autism / ADHD assessment.
- Enable schools to undertake screening for Autism / ADHD.
- Within medical assessments, make better use of the information obtained by schools.
The attached flow-chart shows how the new pre-assessment pathway will work.
The new process will be piloted during the summer term, with the aim to roll it out county-wide during the autumn term 2021.
A new post-assessment pathway is also currently being developed. Updates will be published in future articles within the schools bulletin.