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What is autism?

Autism (also known as autism spectrum disorder or ASD) is a lifelong condition that affects how people communicate and relate to others and how they process information.

An autistic child or young person may see and understand the world differently to their peers and they may have difficulties with friendships or relationships. They may also have specific and passionate interests, can have unusual reactions to sensory input like smells, sensations or sounds, and they may find change or unfamiliar situations difficult.

Parents: How do I request a referral for an autism assessment?
If you feel your child may have autism and you would like a referral, please speak to your GP, health visitor, or other professional involved in your child’s care (e.g. paediatrician, speech and language therapist, psychologist). We now have a single point of access for all autism and ADHD referrals, to help us ensure you see the right team. Take a look at this flyer for more information. As part of the referral process we will contact you to complete a questionnaire about your child. We can provide support with this if you need it.
Please see the links below for more information on what happens before, during and after the autism assessment. Before your autism assessment | During your autism assessment | After your autism assessment
Professionals: How do I request a referral for an autism assessment?
Referring professionals will need to complete the referral front sheet and submit it with a clinic letter outlining the main reasons for referral (see forms and guidance below). GP’s should send this via ERS and other external and internal professionals should send referrals direct to Ryegate Appointments ( Once received and being processed the single point of access (SPA) will organise the collation of the relevant questionnaires with parents and schools.

The below is a list of the current accepted refers. Please note we do not currently accept referrals from SENCOs, but are looking to do this in the near future.

  • GPs
  • Educational and clinical psychologists
  • Speech and Language Therapists
  • Community Paeditricians, Neurodisability Consultants and other SCFT Clinicians including Psychologists and CAMHs clinicians
  • Early Years Teachers
Please see our referral page to view our questionnaires.
How long is the wait for an assessment following referral?

The members of the assessment team will look at all referrals.  If a referral is accepted, we will offer an appointment as soon as possible but unfortunately there is a waiting list. Depending on the pathway your child is waiting on and the impact of Covid, the waiting time will vary. We are always working to reduce waiting times.

What autism support is available?
Across the city there is a wide range of support whether you are waiting for an assessment, have been diagnosed or just think you might value a little more help. In addition, we have a range of information and resources on our website to help you support your child, whether they have been diagnosed with autism or are waiting for an assessment. To find out more about specific areas of support, such as parenting and sleep, visit our resources and support page.

Sheffield Children’s Hospital and Sheffield City Council are also working together to contact all families on the waiting list to to have a conversation about the support available to you. If you are interested in the range of support available take a look at this information sheet.

Autism mythbuster

Take a look at our autism mythbuster – read some of the most common myths about autism and find resources to help.

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