Early Identification of Autism

The offer:

The Early Identification of Autism (EIA) project began as a pilot in Bradford Opportunity Area (OA). Its aim was to explore using routinely collected early years foundation stage (EYFS) profile data as a screening tool for children who may be on the autistic spectrum.
If a child scores below a certain threshold, their teacher completes further evidence-based tools to determine the child’s needs and inform further assessment. A multi-agency assessment is then convened in school to jointly develop a formulation report and support plan. This report and plan is then shared with parents and relevant professionals.

Why are we getting involved?

  • Opportunity to take part in a forward-thinking pilot and elevate the provision and support in Cambridgeshire with a specific focus on Fenland.
  • The process has been found to reduce autism assessment waiting times (a few weeks compared with 2 – 3 years).
  • Enables schools to put in place support earlier before needs escalate so the child can engage more fully in their education.
  • Potential to reduce inequity in the autism assessment process, as diagnosis can often occur later in children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

What will delivery look like on the ground?

  1. Screening of EYFS profile data for children in reception year groups of participating schools.
  2. Teachers complete questionnaires to further identify needs of children identified as ‘at risk’ for neurodevelopmental difficulties.
  3. Parents receive results and provide consent for further neurodevelopmental assessment.
  4. Multi-agency assessment involving a clinical team takes place. The team develop a formulation report and support plan to share with parents and relevant professionals.

The project will be supported by Department for Education (DfE)-funded project management and oversight. This will include the research team at the Centre for Applied Education Research who carried out the original pilot in Bradford. Funding for extra specialist resource, where required to deliver the project, will also be available.

Steps taken so far:

  • The Fenland and East Cambridgeshire OA has been offered the opportunity to get involved in this pilot as we move into Year 5 of the programme.
  • Discussions surrounding how to tailor the approach to our area are underway
  • Consulted a range of key partners to ensure this project is complimentary of existing support

The next step will be to create clear links between the DfE delivery team leading on this project and the key partners ‘on the ground’ so the project can begin.