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?
NICE Guidelines Explained
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 Autism
NICE Guidelines state that the following things could be signs of autism in your child:
· Problems with speech;
· Talking exclusively about things they’re interested in;
· 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 family.
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 therapy 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 clinic in Stratford, London. We look forward to hearing from you!