Assessor and child play during ADOS assessment
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The autism assessment process at Bristol’s Autism Hub

The phone number for the Bristol Autism Hub is 0300 125 6207

This information has been taken  from the Autism Assessment Service website, and contains some practical tips from Bristol’s Autism Support. It is important to note that not everyone’s journey will exactly follow the steps below. Click here to learn more about the Autism Assessment Service 

The Bristol Autism Assessment Service is designed to provide a more efficient service for assessing children for autism in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire.

Following is the process you can expect to go through when your child has been referred for an assessment for autism by their school or GP.

1. Referral

You, your GP (or healthcare professional), or SENCO can write to the Autism assessment service to ask for an assessment for your child. The NHS ICB that serves Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire has developed an autism pathway.  This pathway is intended to be a consistent way forward for all autism diagnosis referrals. More information on making a referral and what to expect can be found on the Sirona Website.

2. Referral evaluation

The Autism Assessment Service evaluates all of the information sent about the child and decides whether or not an assessment is appropriate. If they agree, they will send you a confirmation letter that your referral has been successful. More information on referrals can be found here

3. Appointments and Assessments once a referral is accepted

The Autism Assessment Service carry out a detailed assessment of each child or young person, and the type of appointment will depend on their need. Appointments may take place by telephone, video, face to face in a clinic, school or in a few cases the home setting.

Please be aware it may be several months between the referral being accepted and appointments taking place.

Some assessments can be done in one day and some take more time.

The Hub team will ask you about your child’s life from pregnancy to the present day. If your child is able to speak, they will talk to them and/or play with them as part of the assessment in order to learn more about them.

More information about the assessment process can be found here

Preparing for assessment

The best way to prepare for this conversation is to write things down ahead of time. Write down everything you remember about the pregnancy and birth, early years, when you first started to notice your child was different, and what challenges they are facing now. The time it takes between the referral being accepted and the actual assessment is a great time to be writing these things down.

4. What if the situation changes whilst waiting for the assessment?

If the needs of your child and young person changes, especially if difficulties have increased significantly since the initial referral was made,  the young person may meet prioritisation criteria. It is essential to update your referral. More information on how to do this can be found here


autistic boy playing with car


5. Feedback meeting

After the assessment, the team will review all of the information they have about your child. You will receive a report about the assessment findings and they usually arrange a feedback meeting with you. This may not take place on the same day as the assessment. The report and feedback  will tell you whether or not your child will receive an autism diagnosis. You and your child (if appropriate) will have the opportunity to ask questions during this meeting.

6. Next steps

The team will suggest things that may help you. They’ll provide resources and information about local and national support that you can access. Again, you can always ask questions.

Bristol Autism Support will usually have courses, information sessions and in person support groups happening. Look at our What’s On to find out about the support and information we can offer.


Click here for a downloadable guide to the process for children