What is Autism?

Autism is a life-long neurodevelopmental condition affecting around 700,000 adults and children in the UK.

It's a spectrum condition, which means it effects each person differently, with different needs and levels of support that may be required. It is broad, and encompasses a vast amount of people and lived experiences. You may not always be able to tell if someone is autistic.

Being autistic is a part of who someone is.  Autism has no known cause; it is not a medical condition therefore cannot be “cured” or “treated”. However, autistic people can be supported through interventions or services that can help them in their daily lives.

Autism is characterised by differences in social communication, social interaction and the presence of restricted/repetitive interests/behaviours, which may include sensory needs.

When talking about autism, we use identity first language such as “autistic people” as this is favoured by the autistic community

The Autism Hub is a single point of access for referrals, service users, and their families on waiting lists for autism assessments in Ealing.

It's open to all ages and staff work closely with the child development team, child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) neurodevelopmental team, and the adult autism assessment service.

We employ experts by experience commissioned by Contact Ealing who either have autism themselves or have experience supporting those who have.

Our ultimate goal is to increase understanding of autism and support autistic young people and adults to access health care services.

We are a small team consisting of:

  • A consultant clinical psychologist
  • An assistant psychologist
  • A speech and language therapist
  • Two experts by experience commissioned by Contact Ealing (limited availability to 2 days per week). 

Our clinical team work “behind the scenes” to screen all referrals for autism in Ealing for:

  • The social communication assessment (SOCA) service in the child development team
  • CAMHS neurodevelopmental team
  • The adult autism assessment service.

The experts by experience work to:

  • Provide pre-diagnostic support and advice for those who are referred for an assessment and their families, in partnership with our experts by experience.

Together we:

  • Gather further information and check over questionnaires to make sure referrals are appropriate and referrers are being placed on the right waiting list.
  • Provide teaching, training, consultation and advice to referrers regarding the autism referral pathways and criteria for acceptance.
  • Provide pre-diagnostic support and advice for those who are referred for an assessment.

  • For children aged under 6 years or children with a learning disability, referrals are sent via the child development team.

You can find the criteria for these referrals and how to refer here.

  • For children and young people aged over 6 years, referrals are screened through CAMHS.

 You can find the criteria for referrals and how to refer here 

  • For adults, you can refer through the Ealing Adult Autism Assessment service

You can find the criteria and referral information here. 

We can support you in a number of ways. We offer:  

  • Support for adults/families to understand the referral process
  • Information and support to help with individual’s needs. For example, support at school, sleeping, behaviour, or accessing employment services 
  • Termly welcome group sessions for parents/adults
  • A listening ear for concerns or feedback service users may have about the process
  • Signposting to other relevant support services locally or nationally
  • Directions to relevant reference and resource materials

We also offer extra support in partnership with Contact Ealing:

  • Parents and carers of children/young people who are added to the social communication assessment team (SOCA) pathway or child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) neurodevelopmental team waitlist have the option of joining Contact Ealing’s Helping Hand Project
  • Parents and families will be given access to Contact Ealing’s core family support offer, including advice and support after diagnosis
  • They'll also be given access to Contact Ealing’s workshops, coffee mornings, support with form filling, and family trips.

We have two experts by experience working for the Autism Hub who are available to support patients and their families two days a week (Tuesdays and Wednesdays). 

Experts by experience are people who have lived experience of autism, whether being a parent/carer or autistic. Our experts by experience work closely with the clinical team to provide support for parents/carers and adults, whether they have been accepted and are on the waiting list or not.

The only criteria is that the adult/child or young person has been referred for an assessment of autism. Adults/parents can be referred to this service at the point of referral for assessment for autism.

The experts by experience service are commissioned by Contact Ealing, which is a charity supporting families of children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) aged up to 25 years old.