Who this service is for
We offer services for children, adolescents and their families with learning disabilities across the range, from mild to severe. This includes autism, autistic spectrum disorder and Asperger’s syndrome. We will consider referrals for people who have borderline or unclearly defined learning disabilities in which complex factors (such as trauma, abuse or brain injury) may play a part.
Our patients may have a range of learning disabilities in addition to mental health difficulties. We welcome and encourage parents and professionals to refer very young children where there is any concern about developmental delay, particularly in the areas of play, language development and sociability. Some children and adolescents will have already received a diagnosis of autism, autistic spectrum disorder or Asperger's syndrome before referral to us. For infants, showing a lack of interest in the world around them is a real cause for concern.
Why refer to these services?
Autism is a condition which has a profound impact upon the whole family. Although families may have already seen a number of professionals, they may remain confused for some time and for many the diagnosis itself can be traumatic. Children with autism (and related social and communication difficulties) and their families can feel anxious and isolated.
Often families come to us when they have gone through a detailed assessment and have been given advice and practical support. Some parents are concerned their child is not developing speech and social relationships adequately, and seek our help in understanding this.
Our services for children, adolescents and their families recognise that each child and family is unique and their needs differ. For this reason we tailor a service appropriate for each child and family's needs. In the same way we would be 'open minded' about a child who does not have a diagnosis, we would expect to see a range of different emotional and behavioural problems.
We also know that a child’s difficulties might not just be related to their diagnosis, after all they are children first. We think it’s important to listen properly to every member of the family, the child themselves, their brothers, sisters and carers.
Kinds of treatment offered
We offer assessments and treatment tailored to individual children and families’ needs. We can offer diagnostic assessments if necessary. Our staff have considerable experience in working with families who have been affected by autism. We consider that making a detailed assessment of each families particular needs is key to ensuring the most appropriate treatment.
Because of the complex nature of the problems with children, adolescents and their families, and their impact on the whole family, these assessments often span several months. Up to 20 one-hour appointments are offered. Over the assessment period the family will be seen together at least once and then in varying combinations of family members according to need. An in-depth individual assessment of the child is made: this usually takes three or four one-hour sessions.
Following the assessment a report is prepared for the referrer and GP. Because of the complexity of the work with autistic spectrum and developmental disorders, every effort is made to involve other agencies and to include a professional review meeting. With parents' permission, contact is made with the child's school.
At the conclusion of the assessment a review is held with the parents to discuss what interventions may be helpful.
- Individual Psychotherapy: as a result of the assessment, some children are offered individual psychotherapy. This can range from one to five times weekly and usually lasts for several years.
- Support for Parents: all parents, when their child is offered individual psychotherapy, are offered support for themselves.
- Family Therapy: some families continue to be seen as a family group. This usually lasts for up to one year.
- Group Therapy: we have a parents' group for parents who attend the service. We also offer group psychotherapy for some children and adolescents.
- Siblings: we have a therapy group for the siblings of referred children. Where appropriate, siblings are offered individual therapy in their own right.
How to refer
We encourage referrals from professionals including psychiatrists, psychotherapists, psychologists, paediatricians and GPs (although we do welcome enquiries from other agencies). If you are interested in making a referral please contact the team administrator on 020 8938 2241.
When considering a referral, all professionals are welcome to call our administrator to arrange a time to speak with a clinician. For reasons of confidentiality, we cannot accept referral forms by email. When you fax or post your referral form to us it will be allocated to one of the team’s clinicians.