This guideline offers best practice advice on the recognition, referral and diagnosis of children and young people with autism.
Treatment and care should take into account the needs and preferences of children, young people and those who care for them. Children and young people with autism and their families and carers should have the opportunity to make informed decisions about their care and treatment in partnership with their healthcare professionals. If children and young people do not have the capacity to make decisions, healthcare professionals should follow the Department of Health's advice on consent and the code of practice that accompanies the Mental Capacity Act. In Wales, healthcare professionals should follow advice on consent from the Welsh Government.
If the child or young person is under 16, healthcare professionals should follow the guidelines in the Department of Health's 'Seeking consent: working with children'.
Good communication between healthcare professionals and children and young people is essential. It should be supported by evidence-based written information tailored to the needs of the child or young person and their parents or carers. The information patients are given about recognition, referral and diagnosis of autism should be culturally appropriate. It should also be accessible to people with additional needs such as physical, sensory or intellectual disabilities, and to people who do not speak or read English.
Families and carers should be given the information and support they need.
Care of young people in transition between paediatric and adult services should be planned and managed according to the best practice guidance described in the Department of Health's 'Transition: getting it right for young people'.
Adult and paediatric healthcare teams should work jointly to provide assessment and services to young people with autism. There should be clarity about who is the lead clinician to ensure continuity of care.