Managing referrals

The following advice is adapted from NICE Guideline CG142: Autism in adults: diagnosis and management [Link:]



There should be a single point of access for all ASD referrals for diagnostic assessment

Individuals should be able to self refer for diagnostic assessment

Deciding whether to proceed with a diagnostic assessment

The referral should be accepted if it indicates that:

  • The person has no or mild learning disability and scores 6 or more on an AQ10 screening questionnaire (or, if the person scores less than 6, but a false negative result is suspected e.g. due to lack of insight).


  • The person has moderate or severe learning disability and two or more of the following are present.
  •   difficulties in reciprocal social interaction including:
    • limited interaction with others (for example, being aloof, indifferent or unusual)
    • interaction to fulfil needs only
    • interaction that is naive or one-sided
  • lack of responsiveness to others
  • little or no change in behaviour in response to different social situations
  • limited social demonstration of empathy
  • rigid routines and resistance to change
  • marked repetitive activities (for example, rocking and hand or finger flapping), especially when under stress or expressing emotion.


A referral should not be rejected simply because the person does not have a coexisting mental disorder or learning disability.


If the referral does not indicate that the person may have autistic spectrum disorder, consider referral and/or signposting to other services (e.g. mental health).


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