The Autism Pathway is part of the Bradford/Airedale Neurodevelopmental Service (BANDS). It offers specialist support for adults referred for a comprehensive diagnostic assessment. The Autism Pathway is for adults 18 years+ without a learning disability across Bradford, Craven and Airedale.
Our specialist local service is accessible, friendly, and approachable.
We have a person-centred approach, always putting the needs of patients and their family and carers first. Our team has extensive experience working with autistic adults. We are trained in the relevant and recognised diagnostic assessment tools, in accordance with NICE (National Institute of Care Excellence) Guidelines.
What is autism?
“Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with, and relates to, other people. It also affects how they make sense of the world around them”.
National Autistic Society (2020)
Our service uses the term ‘autism’ but recognises other labels and is in line with NICE Guidance and Quality Standards.
Approximately 1-1.5 per cent of the general population are autistic. The exact causes are unknown. There is no cure, or medication for autism.
To receive a diagnosis of autism, difficulties must be present in the following areas: social interaction, social communication, social imagination and flexibility of thinking. Many autistic people also have sensory differences which can affect them in various ways. These difficulties must be present across a person’s lifespan.
If you are over 18 years of age and think you might be autistic, please see this guide for pre-diagnosis support from the National Autistic Society.
Referrals and referral criteria
We accept referrals from consultants, GPs, and other Trust services
We work with adults (18 years upwards), who do not have an additional learning disability.
Adults with a diagnosed learning disability may receive support from local learning disability services.
We have a transition pathway from CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) for young people aged 17 and a half onwards.
What to expect if you are referred to our service
Once we receive your referral and it is accepted as being appropriate, you will go onto our waiting list.
Once you reach the top of our list, we will send you some questionnaires by post to be returned. Due to having so many people seeking help, if we do not receive your completed questionnaires, we may discharge you from our case load.
Once we receive your completed questionnaire, we will contact you to arrange an initial interview.
Our assessment process
Our comprehensive specialist diagnostic assessment process uses validated specialist assessment tools recognised by NICE. It starts with you filling in our questionnaires as explained above and attending an initial interview, so we can get to know you better. Due to COVID-19 restrictions these have mainly been taking place via phone call or video call on Microsoft Teams. We now have some limited face-to-face appointments, and we will discuss your individual needs beforehand.
We will then also conduct an interview with someone who can give us information about your early history (preferably a parent or close family member). If this is not possible for whatever reason please discuss this with us.
If it becomes apparent you do not have traits of autism, we will discuss this with you and signpost you elsewhere for support more suitable. We work closely with our colleagues in the BANDS (Bradford Airedale Neurodevelopmental Service) ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) pathway, however the services are not inclusive.
If we proceed, we will then carry out a further appointment via video call or face-to-face to complete an assessment using a specialist diagnostic tool.
If we can confidently give you a diagnosis after this assessment, we will deliver this on the same day. Alternatively, we may need to gather more information, so we are able to give an accurate diagnosis.
You then may have a feedback appointment and you will have an opportunity to ask any questions you may have. If you receive an autism diagnosis you will be offered a post diagnostic appointment and will receive a post-diagnostic pack.
You and your referrer will then receive our comprehensive assessment report on how we came to our outcome including our recommendations and local and regional support.
The whole process can take several weeks. Every person we see is different which is why we use a person centred approach, taking into consideration personal circumstances. If you have any questions or worries about the process, we will be glad to help.
Who will I see and speak to?
If you are referred to us you, these are the skilled and dedicated specialist staff you will speak to:
Lead Autism Clinician Stephen Simpson
Stephen has extensive experience and knowledge of autism over 25 years in various roles. He has worked for NICE on autism guidance/standards and the University of Birmingham tutoring on their Webautism course after completed a degree in autism. With over seven years’ experience now as a diagnostician Stephen has a particular interest in masking, stimming and complex presentations. He joined BDCT in November 2019 with a mission to establish a high-quality pathway.
Whilst previously working in South West Yorkshire NHS Foundation Trust, Stephen developed a document for services (or individuals) to review whether they could make environments friendlier for autistic people and raise awareness of how they might be able to make changes.
Many autistic people can experience severe difficulties from ‘unfriendly’ environments. This can mean they have problems for example with sensory input from the world around them, causing them to be distracted or unable to concentrate and with mild discomfort to symptoms of acute ‘pain’ and deterioration in functioning.
Stephen’s Checklist for Autism-Friendly Environments (2016) has been endorsed by NICE (National Institute of Health and Care Excellence).
Assistant Autism Clinician Hannah Clay
Hannah joined the service in August 2020. She has several years’ experience of autism both personally and professionally. Her widespread knowledge of autism and its varying presentations has led her to have a particular interest in female presentations. With a degree in Counselling and Psychology, she is well equipped when conducting early history interviews and making clinical decisions when completing autism diagnostic assessments. Hannah has a passion for learning more about autism, attending training whenever opportunities arise – she is currently completing a postgraduate certificate in autism at Sheffield Hallam University.
We are supported by our adminstration assistant Brittany Saunders.
How to contact us
Our working hours are 9.00am to 5.00pm Monday to Friday – contact us on 01274 221189
BANDS Autism Pathway
Horton Park Health Centre,
99 Horton Park Ave,
Bradford BD7 3EG