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Autism Assessment service for children and young people

A specialist mental health care provider is set to take on autism assessments for children and young people in Scarborough and Ryedale.

The Retreat will take over Autism Spectrum Condition Diagnostic Assessments for children and young people from school age up to their 18th birthday.

The Retreat specialises in providing high quality, effective and personalised Autism and ADHD services to adults, children and young people across the North of England.

Families will receive more information about the new service – which will see face-to-face appointments available in Scarborough and York, as well as innovative virtual consultations – in letters being sent out this week.

Dr Peter Billingsley, NHS Scarborough and Ryedale Clinical Commissioning Group’s Associate Chair and the lead for mental health services in North Yorkshire, said: “I am delighted we’ve been able to secure the services of The Retreat and their partners, Healios, for autism assessments.

“The Retreat has a reputation for excellence and will bring a level of experience and expertise to the table that we believe will significantly enhance these services for children and young people and lead to reduced waiting times and a speedier diagnosis.”

Dr Kim Bevan, Chief Officer (Clinical Services) at The Retreat, said: “We’re really looking forward to working with families, children and young people from the Scarborough and Ryedale area and this is great news for those people who need our support.

“Here at The Retreat we already assess, diagnose and support many people who are on the autism spectrum. Our team of clinicians and health professionals achieve excellent outcomes for these people and the feedback is extremely good.

“We seek to fully understand each person and enable them to live a life that is meaningful to them.

“We will also be making good use of our dedicated virtual consultation service and working with other digital consultation providers to ensure everyone who needs it can access our service, wherever they live.”

The service will involve diagnosing children who have not already been diagnosed, in line with NICE guidance.

As part of the service, the expert team at The Retreat will also be providing advice to other professionals, including teachers, about whether to refer children and young people for autism assessment.

York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, which previously provided behavioural services in Scarborough and Ryedale, had been working with the CCG to identify new providers after it decided it was no longer able to offer these specialist services.

Although the Trust stopped accepting new referrals for autism and ADHD assessments in May, wider Community Paediatric and Children’s Therapy services are unaffected by these changes and continue to be provided by the Trust at Scarborough Hospital.

Patients who require general information or advice about autism can visit the NHS website: www.nhs.uk

Families may also be able to access North Yorkshire County Council services for advice, information and support which includes the Healthy Child Programme (Health Visitors and School Nurses) by visiting the websites below for details:

There are also a number of charities which provide useful information and support around children’s behaviour issues:

Please note, if there are any other identified health needs or concerns then parents should contact their GP for advice, support and onward referral as required to other core health services which can address physical or mental health needs whilst waiting an Autism Diagnostic Assessment.


Notes to editors

About NHS Scarborough and Ryedale Clinical Commissioning Group

  • We are responsible for commissioning planned care, unplanned care, mental health care, rehabilitation care, community care, children’s and maternity services, plus some services provided by GP Practices
  • Our governing body comprises 13 members, six of whom are local GPs
  • In 2017-18 we spent £187.5 million to pay for the health services for our population
  • We commission services for around 119,000 patients, registered at 12 GP Practices in Scarborough and Ryedale

Further notes

It is estimated that 242 children and young people are currently living with autism within the Scarborough and Ryedale area.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

ASD is a lifelong, neurodevelopment condition that affects how a person communicates with and relates to other people. It also affects how they experience the world around them. It is diagnosed based on difficulties since childhood in the following areas:

  1. Persistent difficulties in social communication and social interaction across contexts and shown by all three of the following:
  • Difficulties in social-emotional reciprocity: being in social situations, having conversations, understanding other people
  • Difficulties in nonverbal communication used for social interaction
  • Difficulties in developing and maintaining relationships and friendships  
  1. Restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviour, interests or activities as shown by the following:
  • Excessive adherence to routines, ritualised patterns of behaviour, or excessive resistance to change.
  • Highly restricted, fixated interest that are atypical in intensity or focus
  • Hyper- or hypo- reactivity to sensory input or unusual interest in sensory aspects of the environment.

‘Autism’ and other diagnoses including ‘Asperger’s syndrome’ or ‘pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified’ are all now known as ‘Autism Spectrum Disorder’ or ASD. This is in line with the latest diagnostic guidelines.

The National Autistic Society (NAS) has some useful resource to assist with further understanding in this area. https://www.autism.org.uk

For CCG media enquiries contact: Tim Readman, Communications Officer
Tel 01723 232473 or email tim.readman@nhs.net

For media enquiries at The Retreat: Yvonne Reay, Communications, 07793 943342