What does this service provide?

Our assessment pathway

Our assessment pathway will look at a wide range of things including whether your child has Autism Spectrum Condition.

Autism is a life-long condition which affects individuals in different ways, including difficulties interpreting both verbal and non-verbal communication. For example, it may impact their use of gesture and eye gaze. 

Children with autism can also display difficulties with social interaction and may struggle with friendships and understanding social cues and communication. There can also be associated patterns of behaviour such as repetitive and rigid behaviours and sensory difficulties.


During the assessment process, clinicians will assess your child’s play, communication, interaction, and other skills. This may be carried out during an observation session at the school or nursery, or within a clinic setting. Sometimes both a clinic assessment and a school observation is needed, so that we can fully understand your child.

Gathering information

We will gather information from other professionals involved with your child such as nursery or school, to help us understand how your child behaves and acts in other settings.
We may also complete an autism-focused history from you, but if there is sufficient detail from the initial developmental assessment we may not need to ask further questions.

We will then look at all the information we have gathered, and the assessments that have been carried out, to come to a conclusion for your child. 

Feeding back

We will feedback all our findings and information we have gathered and inform you of the diagnosis. This takes place after the assessment process has been completed.

Occasionally we are unable to come to a diagnostic decision and may need to arrange further observations.

During feedback, we will discuss any further support that your child may need, based on our findings. 


We will send out a post-assessment report to you and your GP. We will include a spare copy for you to share with your child’s school or nursery. We aim to send out the report within six weeks of the final assessment. 

Appointment information

Who should attend the assessment?

It is important that, if possible, both parents/carers come to the assessment as it is very useful to hear both viewpoints and for both to be involved in the assessment process. If only one parent/carer is available, it can be helpful to be supported by another family member or friend, who knows your child well. We understand, however, that this is not always possible. 

How long will the assessment take?

When accepted for assessment your child will be placed on a waiting list. Please be aware that the waiting time until assessment is completed is very long, due to current demand. Your child may wait up to 18 months for the pathway to be completed.

The assessment process varies depending on the individual child; each assessment stage can take between 2 and 3 hours. The whole pathway may take several months to complete.

Please contact the Child Development Centre for further information on your child’s waiting time or if you need support while you are on the waiting list.

How can I access this service?

Parents and carers can ask any healthcare professional who knows their child to complete a referral form and send it to the team.

Autism assessment waiting list support 

We know families may need additional support while waiting for an autism assessment for their child. 

Our workshops and drop-in sessions may be helpful for those on the waiting list to be assessed at Brighton Child Development Centre.

How can I contact this service?

Further contact details for each location can be found below, please see the Child Development Services page for Child Development Centre addresses and  opening hours.

Brighton and Hove
Telephone: 01273 265 780
Telephone: 01243 793639
Telephone: 01293 301010
Haywards Heath
Telephone: 01444 414100

Where can I find resources for this service?

For advice and guidance through the assessment period, please contact your local Child Development Centre.

West Sussex Parent Carer Forum - an independent charity for the parent carers of children and young people aged 0-25 with special educational needs and/or disabilities.

Brighton and Hove Parent Carer Council - a forum for parent carers of children with additional needs who work to help improve services and support.

mASCot - a Brighton and Hove based parent-led support work.

National Autistic Society - a dedicated group who aim transform lives and change attitudes.

Get the best from your NHS

If you want to share a compliment, raise a concern or if you are just not sure who to speak to you can contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS).