Liverpool Autism Spectrum Disorder Pathway
What is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a lifelong neurodevelopmental condition that affects the way a person communicates and relates to people around them.
Children with ASD can find the world a confusing place and may have high levels of anxiety, despite their intelligence. ASD may impact on other aspects of behaviour too for example finding it hard to be flexible. Some children with ASD may have difficulties with sensory processing. These children may avoid certain sensory experiences (noise, smell, touch etc.…) or they may seek out these sensory experiences.
ASD can affect anyone, no matter what their ability or background. More boys than girls are affected, a ratio of 4:1. After 50 years of research, there is still no agreed explanation for ASD, but it is unlikely there is one single cause for it. No link has been discovered between immunisations and autism, despite intensive research into this area. For more information about this, click here.
Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA)
Demand avoidance is a common response to anxiety in children with and without Autism Spectrum conditions. In contrast, Pathological demand avoidance (PDA) is not common and is characterised by a continued and pervasive extreme resistance to everyday demands through strategies of social manipulation that originate from an anxiety-driven need to be in control.
PDA is increasingly understood in the UK to be part of the autism spectrum. However, it is not widely recognised outside the UK and is not a recognised category in standard diagnostic manuals. There is limited research evidence on its diagnosis and interventions. The Developmental Paediatric team at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital do not assess for PDA in isolation.
Where there is good quality research evidence and national guidelines about assessment and treatment we strive to follow these as closely as we can. However we do recognise that some children with Autism present with characteristics of PDA in terms of their emotional and behavioural difficulties. These children require careful and thorough assessment within the neurodevelopmental services, CAMHS and child disabilities teams.
How long will my child have to wait for an ASD assessment?
Presently there is a significantly long waiting list to be seen for an ASD assessment. Whilst you are waiting for the assessment there are services both locally and at Alder Hey you can access for support. Click on the links below for further information:
- Alder Hey ASD Advisory Sessions poster & information booklet
- Liverpool City Council ASD Training Team
- ADDvanced Solutions
- National Autistic Society
- Isabella Trust
- Liverpool's Early Help Directory
ASD Admin Desk: (0151) 252 5252
The ASD Team
The ASD Team is made up of Psychiatrists, Psychologists, Paediatricians, Speech and Language Therapists , Neurodevelopmental Practitioners and an administrative team.
The clinical staff assess for ASD. ASD is not diagnosed using brain scans or blood tests, but via a range of assessments. The assessments involve gathering information from the child, parents/carers, school and other agencies in relation to ASD.
Information about the assessment process
Every assessment for ASD will be slightly different as it will be dependent on the child’s needs, but there is a process for assessment that the team follow for each child who is referred to them.