At London Speech Therapy, we think it’s best to avoid
confusing terminology. That’s why we use plain English and offer simple
explanations of some of the more confusing jargon that gets thrown around when
you start to interact with healthcare professionals.
With that in mind, for the first in our new series of blogs,
we’re looking at NICE Guidelines. You might have heard of them, and you might
even know that they’re pretty important, but what exactly are they? And what do
they have to say about the assessment and diagnosis of autism?
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)
provides national guidance and advice to health and social care practitioners
in order to improve the quality of health and social care. It also puts into
place quality standards and performance metrics to keep practitioners focussed
on delivering the best possible health outcomes.
NICE Guidelines exist to protect you – the people who rely
on healthcare services for yours, and your families’, wellbeing. They are
evidence-based and cover a wide range of topics, including recommendations on
diagnosis, interventions, and technology, as well as many others.
NICE Guidelines and Diagnosing
NICE Guidelines state that the following things could be
signs of autism in your child:
Problems with speech;
Talking exclusively about things they’re
Problems understanding and responding to others’
expressions, body language or feelings;
Disliking getting physically close to people;
Displaying little imagination;
Difficulties playing with other children or
preferring to be alone; and in some cases;
Strong reactions to certain smells, sounds, or
changes in their routine.
If you or someone involved in your child’s care are
concerned they are displaying these signs, you should be able to discuss this
with a healthcare professional. They should ask about your child’s development,
behaviour, and how they talk with and relate to others, and they should do this
sensitively, taking the time to listen to you, and taking your concerns
seriously. It is also important that they discuss with you how the signs that
your child is displaying are affecting your child and the rest of your
If you and the healthcare professional feel that it is
necessary, they will arrange a referral for a specialist assessment by an
autism team. The autism team might include a paediatrician, an educational
psychologist, and a speech and language therapist, for example. These
professionals should have experience of, and be good at, communicating with
children with autism.
During an assessment for autism, the autism team will
discuss your concerns with you in greater depth, and will also find out more
about your child’s and your family’s medical history. They should give your
child a physical examination, observe their behaviour, and also use specific
tools that provide more insight into your child’s condition, such as
assessments of how your child uses language.
Once the overall assessment has taken place, the autism team
should use all the information they have gathered to make a diagnosis. They
should make a record of this assessment, and it should include information such
as your child’s strengths, skills, difficulties and needs, as well as a
description of the help your child may need with regard to education,
communication, daily living and general wellbeing. This, with your permission,
can then be shared with your child’s GP and school, and any other professionals
who might be involved in providing the support you and your child will need.
London Speech Therapy
Your Speech and Language team should be using these
guidelines as a gold standard, and at London Speech Therapy they’re at the
heart of everything we do.
If you’re concerned that your child is displaying signs of
autism and would like to arrange an assessment, please don’t hesitate to get in
touch. We can carry out assessments at home, in school or nursery, or in our brand-new
clinic. We look forward to hearing from you!