About the service
The service for adults with Autism* (the term refers to Autism Spectrum Disorders encompassing Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome and atypical Autism) offers diagnostic assessment and/or specialist interventions for people who are 18 years+ and do not have an intellectual disability. More on “What is Autism?”
Our main office base is Manygates Clinic in Wakefield, however, we use a number of community bases in Wakefield, Calderdale, Kirklees and Barnsley.
Service users have access to a multi-disciplinary team which includes medical, nursing, psychology, occupational therapy and speech & language therapy practitioners. Specialist social work support is also available from the team or from our local authority partners, depending on the area of residence.
We also accept referrals for assessment from areas outside these localities when individual funding is approved by a Clinical Commissioning Group. More information about this can be provided by your GP.
The team has established strong links with local service user support networks and agencies. From these positive relationships, we are able to signpost or refer individuals to other appropriate local community services.
Checklist for autism-friendly environments
Many people with Autism can experience severe difficulties with ‘unfriendly’ environments. This can mean that a person may have problems with sensory input from the world around them.
This may affect them in a variety of different ways, from being distracted, unable to concentrate and having mild discomfort, to symptoms of acute ‘pain’ and deterioration in functioning.
We have developed a checklist for services (or individuals) to review whether they could make environments friendlier for people with autism and raise awareness of how they might be able to make changes.
The checklist for autism-friendly environments is now endorsed by the National Autistic Society as well as NICE. It means a higher profile which benefits us all. View our checklist for autism-friendly environments poster presented at the National Autistic Society Professionals Conference 2018.
Here is an example of how the service has used the checklist to improve the environment for people with autism.
Find out more about the checklist and how you can use it in our two-part video:
A diagnosis of autism in adulthood can lead to mixed feelings. On the one hand there is the recognition that the person now has a framework for explaining some of the difficulties they are currently facing and for this reason, the person and their family often feel a sense of relief. However, on the other hand, there can be resentment or even guilt from the family that it has not been diagnosed sooner, concerns about lack of appropriate services and fears for the future. Post-diagnostic support can help the person to identify their strengths and answer some of the questions and concerns about ways of moving forward.
One young man who was recently diagnosed with autism reported that he felt it had been helpful to receive the diagnosis. The diagnosis meant he was able to access support at university which enabled him to make the transition there more smoothly.
Another lady was recently diagnosed with autism although she was not particularly interested in a diagnostic label. However, during post-diagnostic support, she developed a better understanding of the diagnosis and how it affected her. This consequently enabled her to develop a more effective plan for working with her support worker, which in turn helped to make better progress towards her goals.
Finally, one man attended for a diagnostic assessment of autism as he felt all his life he had been different to other people which had caused him some distress. During the assessment process and at the final appointment he agreed that the differences he reported were not sufficient for a diagnosis of autism, but the assessment process had enabled him to recognise his many strengths, which could enable him to develop new opportunities for himself to move forward in his life.
Social care intervention
Jacob was referred to the autism social care pathway in November 2016. He was socially isolated, unemployed and his only activity outside the home was attending the local fitness centre approximately 8 times per week. Jacob engaged with the service for approximately a year and was discharged in December 2017, specialist social care interventions included completing an initial spectrum star assessment of needs, making appropriate referrals to other agencies, psychosocial interventions and motivational interviewing, working with and supporting his carers and promoting positive reflection of achievements. At the point of discharge he was doing the following things:
- Engaging with a local employment support service
- Holding down several voluntary employment roles; some of which he had found through the employment service and some of which he had developed the confidence to find himself. He had also attended an interview for a paid employment post.
- Regularly attending an autism social activity group on a regular basis where he was beginning to develop friendships
- Contributing to an organisation seasonal newsletter
- Took the lead in setting up a new social group in his local area through his own ambition
- Over this year his social communication greatly improved, his confidence boosted, his social network expanded and his independence increased unrecognisably
Mark was referred to the autism service for support regarding his difficulties with social isolation, behaviours that challenge and difficulties with socials skills.
The service was able to offer nursing and occupational therapy input to support Mark and his father as well as medical input from psychiatry.
An individual spectrum star care plan was completed that identified interventions from Mark attending Social Skills training in the development of behaviour support strategies.
Working with local agencies to support access to the community Mark was able to gain confidence in discussing his beliefs that were creating acute anxiety and developing ways to help him and his father.
How we support adults with autism
The Autism pathway offers support for adults with Autism following a diagnostic assessment and in the areas where we offer interventions. Following the outcome of the Diagnostic Assessment, the team offers post-diagnostic support in the form of a specific post-diagnostic pack for those who do not receive a diagnosis and for those who do, we offer up to two sessions of consultation and advice to support those who need it.
Currently, in the geographical area of Barnsley and Wakefield, we are able to offer a health intervention pathway which may include a variety of different support from the multi-disciplinary team. A person-centred care plan will be developed using a Spectrum STAR assessment tool where needs will be identified. Interventions could include social skills training, psychological intervention, occupational therapy and organisational skills, access to health care and speech and language input.
In the geographical area of Kirklees, we have a Specialist Social Worker who is able to offer a Social Care Pathway which may include such things as the development of care packages and support to access to educational, social care and employment opportunities.
Information for service users and carers
Take a look at our FAQs – Autism Diagnostic Pathway updated July 2020.
Why would someone choose the service?
Our team consists of a number of experts in Autism who are able to provide the best available care in an accessible, friendly and approachable manner. Our pathway (where commissioned) is compliant with the latest NICE Guideline recommendations and as part of our Trust values, we put the needs of service users and their family or carers first.
Find out more on the other pages in this section.
Staff you may meet
- There are more than 60 different specialities that doctors work within the NHS. Each is unique but there are many characteristics which are common. Roles range from working in a hospital to being based in the community as a GP.
- Nurses who choose to specialise in the mental health branch of nursing work with GPs, psychiatrists, psychologists, and others, to help care for patients. Increasingly, care is given in the community, with mental health nurses visiting patients and their families at home, in residential centres, in prisons or in specialist clinics or units.
- Occupational therapy is the assessment and treatment of physical and psychiatric conditions using specific, purposeful activity to prevent disability and promote independent function in all aspects of daily life.
- Receptionists are the first link for many patients and visitors. They often work on their own or with one or two other receptionists, greeting patients as they arrive and check them in. They might also collect patient notes and ensure that these vital records go to the right healthcare professional. In a clinic, they may make appointments and arrange patient transport.
- Social workers help, support and protect people who are facing difficulties in their lives. They help people to take positive steps to overcome problems and improve their lives. This could involve assessing and reviewing a service user’s situation, building relationships with service users and their families and agreeing what practical support someone needs.
Why a professional should choose the service
The Trust’s specialist service for adults with autism has developed established diagnostic and treatment pathways that include:
- An out of area service for autism spectrum conditions since 2011
- An autism diagnostic and treatment pathway for NHS Barnsley Clinical Commissioning Group since April 2012
- A joint pathway for autism with Kirklees Council since January 2014
- A diagnostic pathway for Calderdale and Kirklees since April 2014(purchased on a case by case basis)
- A full autism diagnostic and intervention pathway for NHS Wakefield Clinical Commissioning Group since April 2017
Kirklees is recognised as an area of good practice in the National Autistic Society’s ‘Push for Action. Implementing the adult autism strategy: a guide for local authorities and local health bodies’.
We offer a comprehensive specialist diagnostic assessment that includes a full medical and social history and uses validated diagnostic instruments are recommended by NICE. The decision for the diagnosis is made using a multiple disciplinary team approach and following a diagnosis, post-diagnostic information and support is available.
For people living in Barnsley and Wakefield, the team is able to offer health intervention including nursing, occupational therapy, speech and language and psychology input. Interventions are normally delivered on an individual or group basis.
Through the support we offer, we aim to support individuals with autism, their family or carers, as well as educate other healthcare professionals about the condition.
For individuals with autism spectrum conditions we aim to:
- Improve psychosocial functioning
- Increase mental wellbeing
- Increase social inclusion and community participation
- Increase independence
- Prevent or reduce the need for crisis responses
- Prevent or reduce in contact with the criminal justice system
- Improve educational engagement
- Improve access to employment
For families and carers, we aim to:
- Support them in their caring role
- Increase awareness and understanding of autism
- Improve their health and wellbeing
- Increase their ability to sustain appropriate support for their loved one
For health and social care professionals we aim to:
- Increase awareness and understanding of autism
- Increase the ability to provide appropriate support for an individual with autism
- Support them in their professional role
Referrals accepted from:
Consultants, GPs, Other Trust services
Referrals also accepted from:
Referrals also accepted from social workers for our Social Care Pathway.
The service for adults with autism works with adults from the age of 18 years upwards, who do not have an additional learning disability.
Adults with a diagnosed learning disability and autism can also receive support from local learning disability services.
Referrals can be made directly to the service on 01924 316490 or via the Trust’s Single Point of Access team.
You can also download the referral form.
We also have a self re-referral form to enable people who have received specialist interventions from the service to make a self-re-referral within a 12 month period instead of having to go back through their GP.
Take a look at the Royal College of General Practitioners Autism Spectrum Disorders toolkit.