Autism Changes

You may have been directed to this page to find out more about the changes to the autism referral criteria across Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire.

The 3 Parent Carer Forums across Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire are looking to collect the views that families may have regarding the new assessment criteria for Autism.

What is changing?

You may have read that health services have moved to a needs-led model of support. Under this model, support services are designed to be flexible and responsive to changes in an individual’s circumstances and needs. 

Under this model, the way waiting lists are managed is changing. they are no longer organised by the date that referrals are received. Instead, referrals are prioritised based on the needs of each child, young person and family.  The criteria for a referral is only changing. You can find out more info here and view our info graphic here.

There is a great website which details all the ways you can get started on supporting your child here.

How can I access support?

You may be worried about how you will access support for your child and your family. We have created this page to ensure you have access to all the information necessary.

In our needs led survey 55% of parent carer told us that having a diagnosis did not help them access support for their child from health and social care services. But 69% of parent carers told us that having a diagnosis was really important in getting help with access to education.

We hope the follow links help you get the support your family and child needs, but if they don’t please do get in touch with us and we will try our very best to help. We are parent carers just like you and this change is affecting out children too.

We believe that a diagnosis it’s really important to many families and a needs led approach should happen in tandem with a the diagnostic process.

I live in Bristol what help and support can I access? Please remember you do not need a diagnosis to access any of this support.

The Right to Chose

In many cases you have the legal right to choose where you have your NHS treatment? The NHS is offering more and more options to enable you to make choices that best suit your circumstances, giving you greater control of your care, and hopefully better results. you could chose to seek a diagnosis form an alternative area that does not have this new criteria.

There is more information on this here.

Parent Carer Resources

Our website has a lot of information that can support you and your family.

Our parent carer support page is here

Our A-Z page is here

Our Resources page is here

Our events page which includes events from all organisations is here

Our Coffee Morning events, which include a session from SOS!SEN who can give you advice on accessing support in schools is here

Bristol Autism Support have lots of helpful information on their website here

There is an excellent website here which has lots of information and support here

Parent Carer Support Organisations

There are quite a few different charities that are based in Bristol and can support parents and carers of children who may be autistic. You do not need a diagnosis to seek support from these organisations.

Bristol Autism Support here

Autism Independence here

Extraordinary Links here

Incredible Kids here

Neon Daisy here

There are also lots of other support organisations that you can access, you can find a list here

How can I get clued up on the support and how to access it: Parent carer tools

Please remember you do not need a diagnosis to access this support.

We run various events across Bristol that will help you understand your child’s behaviour and how you can advocate for them, you can access them here

Bristol, North Somerset and South Glos Parent Carer Forums run webinars and information sessions for parents which support them on all aspects of needs connected to autism and ADHD see here

Bristol Autism Support run similar courses which you can view here

For all events and activities across Bristol, including activities for your child and mental health support for yourself, see here

For a website which details all the services Bristol City Council offer across the local area, see here

How can I get clued up on the support and how to access it: Health Support

You can access health services such as Speech therapy and occupational therapy by either asking your school SENDCo or GP to make a referral. There is more information on the back page of our local area support booklet here

There is also the community children’s health partnership (CCHP) leaflet library here

The CCHP Website also has lots of information on referrals and other services such as:

Speech and language therapy. – for advice on a variety of topics such as: lack of speech sounds, situational mutism, or how children say certain words and letter sounds, understanding sentences, being able to recall and retell events, stammering, swallowing difficulties and lisps (the autism page is great for children with little language skills)

Occupational therapy – which includes help with handwriting, doing up zips and buttons, balancing, scooting, riding a bike, for children who are described as clumsy who may knock into things or fall frequently

The school nurse


ADHD and a great booklet here


How can I get clued up on the support and how to access it: Education Support

Parent carers told us in our Needs Led Survey that most of the time a diagnosis is helpful in securing support in school. As parents ourselves, we have also experienced this.

But, support in schools should be based on the needs of your child. Each school should have SEN information report on their website, if you can’t find it, ask the school office to share it with you . It will tell you more about the approach the school takes to delivering support.

There is also a document called the Ordinarily Available Provisions, which details the support schools in Bristol should offer to pupils, even if there is no diagnosis.

Every school must make reasonable adjustments to meet the needs of children and young people and match the needs. If you child is not receiving the correct support and you need help then you can contact.

SEND and You – they will give you information and advice

Bristol’s EHCP Facebook page

If you have sought advice and schools are still not helping deliver the support your child needs then IPSEA has a very helpful template letter here which you will need to send to the school office. You may also need to read the schools complaints process which is usually on their website.

There are other resources on the IPSEA website which you might find helpful, here

SOS!SEN also have lots of great information here

If your child is suspended or excluded please call SEND and You for advice, there is a helpful section from The Autism Page here. If you child is permenantly excluded please contact Just for Kids.

If you have tried most of these approaches or you are unable to follow them for any reason, please let us know by contacting us and we will do our best to support you.

How can I get clued up on the support and how to access it: Support for myself or my child with accessing the community, time apart and supporting with challenging behaviour or social-emotional and mental health concerns

To get support if your child behaviour is difficult, or if your child has difficulty accessing the community, you will need to contact the disabled children’s team. See our page here for more info.

There may also be access to health services to help you as well as the webinars mentioned above.

The autism page has lots of practical help as does the Bristol Autism Support page

To get support for yourself as a parent carer, please contact the Carers Support Centre here or please come along to any of our events and speak to like minded parents for information and support.