Autism Diagnostic Service (LADS)
Located in - leeds
- About the Service
The Leeds Autism Diagnostic Service (LADS) provides assessment and diagnosis of people of all intellectual ability, who may have autism and live in Leeds. The assessment is provided by a team of mental health and learning disability professionals with specialist knowledge of autism.
We accept referrals from Healthcare Professionals and also directly from individuals (self-referral) who would like an autism assessment. We are happy to receive referrals for all adults over the age of 18 years regardless of their IQ. This includes people who also have a learning disability or other developmental conditions.
Due to a high level of demand on the service we are currently operating a waiting list. We ask for your patience during this time and we will keep you up to date regarding your referral. We aim to provide all service users with an initial assessment appointment within 12 weeks of referral, and provide a diagnosis within 26 weeks of referral.
If autism is diagnosed, all service users are offered a one off follow up appointment where guidance and advice is provided. You can find out more about what to expect in the care pathway section on this page.
The team also provide training and development for neighbouring NHS organisations and delivers an autism masterclasses to local authority professionals. Please see the training section for further information.
- What is Autism like?
We have produced a number of videos to help individuals develop their understanding of autism. There is an additional film available for healthcare professionals, particularly GPs available upon request.
- Autism care pathway
This section provides an overview of the service user journey with us. Not all referrals will experience the same pathway as this will depend on what preferences have been selected on the ADI form.
Referrals are screened on a daily basis to check for quality, suitability and completeness in order to ensure resources are dedicated towards providing care to those who need it most. If the information provided does not meet minimum standards, or the referral is deemed inappropriate, a service decline letter will be issued within 5 days advising of the next appropriate course of action.
To reduce the likelihood of a referral being declined, please ensure they are submitted using the Leeds Autism Diagnostic Service referral form and follow the criteria available in the Referral information for professionals or Self-referral sections of this page.
Due to the high number of referrals the service receives, a waiting list is currently in operation. All accepted service users will be informed they have been placed on the waiting list by letter within a maximum of 5 days advising of the next steps.
If a referral is accepted, the referred person will receive a waiting list letter from us. The letter also includes a ‘Request for Information’ and ‘Autism Diagnostic Interview’ form, please complete and return both of these forms within 21 days. If we do not receive both the forms within this time frame we will discharge you from the service under the category ‘forms not received’. An explanation of what these forms are and why we need them will be included in your letter.
Booking Your Appointment
Once we have received the appropriate forms, we will add the referred person to our appointment booking waiting list. When capacity becomes available, the referred person will receive a letter instructing them to telephone the service to book their first appointment. If an appointment is not made within 14 days, the service user will be discharged.
We are experiencing consistently high referral rates at present, therefore we are unable to give an accurate indication of when the appointment offer letter will be dispatched. We do get cancellations, so if you are available to attend an appointment at late notice, please state this on the Autism Diagnostic Interview (ADI) form you receive in your waiting list pack.
The first time the referred person visits the service the appointment is called an Initial Assessment appointment. The purpose of this appointment is to gather relevant background information and start the autism assessment process. All service users will receive an Initial Assessment.
During the Initial Assessment appointment, the service will aim to complete an Autism Diagnostic Interview (ADI) with the nominated friend or family member listed on the ADI form returned to the service. This will rely on the service user organising the appointment at a convenient time for both them and their nominated friend or family member. If the named person recommended is not available at the same time as the service user, please let the service know and we will aim to arrange a convenient time separately.
Unfortunately due to diary management challenges we are not always able to offer joint appointments. We are aware not everyone referred into the service will be able to nominate a friend or family member to complete the ADI. In this instance, service users will undertake the Initial Assessment and be advised of next steps at the end of the appointment.
Service users and nominated friends or family members will be provided with detailed information regarding the Initial Assessment and Autism Diagnostic Interview in the appointment confirmation letter. Undertaking the Initial Assessment with the referred person and the Autism Diagnostic Interview with a parent or relative during the same appointment increases the speed at which the autism assessment can be completed.
Following the completion of your first appointment there can be a number of outcomes, these are explained below:
- Autism Diagnosed: The assessment and evidence available clearly indicates autism is present. If this is the case, service specialists will do their best to inform you of their clinical decision at the end of your first appointment. If you are informed of your diagnosis at the first appointment, the service will then write to you to arrange a follow up appointment.
- Autism Not Determined: The assessment and evidence available to the service indicates the referred person does not have autism. If this is the case, service specialists will do their best to inform you of their decision at the end of your appointment. If this is not possible, you will be invited back to the service at a later date.
- Further Investigation Required: In complex cases, the service may invite you to return for further exploratory assessments. This is very rare and is heavily influenced by the volume of information available to the service.
If further investigation is required you will be invited back into the service for a clinical decision appointment. During this appointment the service user may be asked to complete a series of observational assessments involving simple activities. At the appointment there will be two clinicians from different disciplines who will discuss with the service user the outcome of their referral in detail. Following the clinical decision appointment follow up appointments are offered to those provided with an autism diagnosis.
Follow up appointments
Service users who meet the diagnostic criteria for autism will be offered the opportunity to attend a follow up appointment. This appointment will provide further information about autism and provide signposting to relevant supporting services. Service users can also request consultancy support, more information about this can be found in the consultancy section of this page.
Follow up appointments are only offered to those who receive a diagnosis of autistic spectrum disorder from the Leeds service.
- Consultancy appointments
We offer service users diagnosed with autism the opportunity to request a one off consultancy appointment. This option is available to all service users regardless of when or which specialist autism service provided the diagnosis.
The team will request copies of reports from previous autism diagnostic assessments and may offer a re-assessment if the current presentation suggests this might be helpful. The consultancy appointment is not part of the main care pathway, but is an option for service users who feel additional support and guidance is needed.
The consultancy appointment can be for you, your carers and other professionals. If you would like to request consultancy support, please complete either the self-referral form or healthcare professional referral form and submit to email@example.com.
Service users will receive questionnaires to complete prior to the appointment and a copy of your diagnostic report will be requested.
- Referral information for professionals
To support you in ensuring the correct depth and quality of information is provided, you can download a referral example.
Please complete the referral form in full and include as much detail as possible. Referrals which are incomplete or contradict our referral criteria will be returned. Please submit your referral from a secure email address such as nhs.net.
Exclusion criteria where referrals will not be accepted:
- Are below the age of 18: professionals are advised to refer service users under the age of 18 to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS).
- Do not consent to the referral: any service user referred to LADS must fully consent to the referral. The service has experienced service users being referred without full consent e.g. when a referral is submitted by carer.
- Are at risk of harming self or others: If a service user is currently to be at risk of self-harm or harming others the service stipulates this is addressed prior to referral. If the risk is longstanding this may require a clinical discussion prior to referral.
- Did not experience autism features during childhood: referrals into the service will be declined if there is insufficient evidence provided that they demonstrated autistic features during childhood.
- Substance misuse: the service stipulates anyone experiencing substance misuse problems are treated and reviewed in advance of referral into the service. This includes alcohol and drug related problems.
- BMI less than 15: Referrals for service users who have a Body Mass Index under 15 are not accepted. A malnourished brain mimics traits of Autism and we would be unable to make an accurate diagnosis. Please re-refer when BMI is above 15.
- Dementia diagnosis: the service will not usually accept referrals for service users who have previously received a diagnosis of dementia. Please telephone the service for a clinical discussion prior to referral.
If you would like to speak to a member of the team prior to referral or ask for advice, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 0113 855 0712.
- Self Referrals
We recognise some of the challenges being faced by people living with diagnosed or undiagnosed autism spectrum disorder in society. Feedback from our service users showed that having to be referred through GPs or Healthcare Professionals was a barrier to accessing our service. To address this we provide the option to self-refer.
Autism is a developmental condition and the signs and symptoms are most obvious at four to five years of age. During the assessment process it is helpful to have information available from family members. If school reports, speech and language reports or medical reports from childhood are available, this can assist in the process. If information from a family member is not available, it may not be possible to reach a conclusion.
If you would like to self refer, please submit the Leeds Autism Diagnostic Service self-referral form to email@example.com
Before considering self-referral please make sure you meet the following criteria:
- You are above the age of 18: if you are below the age of 18 you are advised to be referred to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS)
- You consent to the referral: please ensure you are fully committed to experiencing all parts of the care pathway. Please read the care pathway section of this webpage to inform your decision
- You are not at risk of harming self or others:please ensure you have confidence you are not at risk of self-harm or harming others prior to referral. If this is currently a problem please contact the crisis service on 0300 300 1485.
- You experienced autistic features during childhood: be prepared to share your childhood experiences with professionals in the service. If you did not experience features of autism during childhood you should not refer
- You do not suffer from substance misuse: please address any substance misuse problems prior to referral into the service. This includes alcohol and drug related problems
- Your BMI must be more than 15: Referrals for service users who have a Body Mass Index under 15 are not accepted. A malnourished brain mimics traits of autism and we would be unable to make an accurate diagnosis. Please re-refer when BMI is above 15
- You do not have a dementia diagnosis: the service will not usually accept referrals for those who have previously received a diagnosis of dementia. Please telephone the service for a discussion prior to referral.
For more information on what to expect and an explanation of the steps you will experience in the service please read the care pathway section of this webpage.
The team has the capability to train NHS and other staff including; GPs, social services staff and staff working for voluntary and private providers. We are keen to ensure stakeholders who come into contact with autism spectrum disorder have an excellent level of awareness.
If you would like to know more about the training services we can offer, please register your interest by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. A member of the team will get back to you.
When appropriate, service users are asked to assist us with training other professionals.
- How to find us
The Leeds Autistic Diagnosis team are based at the Aire Court Community Unit in Middleton.
Aire Court Community Unit
How to find us by bus – this starts from the Leeds Corn Exchange bus stop
If you are experiencing any travel difficulties please contact the team by telephone 0113 8550712 who will be more than happy to support you.
- Meet the Team
Dr Alison Stansfield
Clinical Lead, Consultant Psychiatrist
Alison Stansfield undertook her basic psychiatry and part of her higher training in the psychiatry of learning disability in Cambridge before moving to Leeds in 1999 to complete her specialist training in Yorkshire. She worked as a part-time locum consultant in Barnsley for two years then moved to Leeds as a part-time community learning disability consultant in October 2007. She was appointed to a permanent post in Leeds in April 2008 and was also employed by the Yorkshire and Humber Secure Services Commissioning Team to review people with learning disabilities who required treatment in conditions of security. She completed her MD with the University of Leeds in 2007 looking at non-consensual sterilisation in England and Wales.
From 2010 to 2013 she was the Associate Medical Director for Learning Disabilities but relinquished the post to concentrate on her role as Clinical Lead for the Leeds Autism Diagnostic Service (LADS) after successfully submitting business cases which resulted in permanent funding. She has co-authored 4 recent publications describing the service development of LADS in Advances in Autism.
She also co-authored “A Clinician’s Brief Guide to the Mental Capacity Act” published June 2013 (2nd edition 2015) and is currently contributing to a book about autism for the BMA.
Dr Conor Davidson
Dr Conor Davidson qualified as a consultant psychiatrist in 2012. He works two days a week in the Leeds Autism Diagnostic Service, and three days a week as a general adult psychiatrist in York. His particular clinical interest is the comorbidity of autism and psychiatric disorders. He has published several papers on autism including on Asperger syndrome and First Episode Psychosis. In April 2017, Conor was appointed trust wide autism lead for Tees, Esk and Wear Valley Foundation Trust. Unfortunately for him, Conor is a lifelong Leeds United supporter.
Dr Alwyn Kam
Dr Alwyn Kam graduated from Manchester University with a degree in Biochemistry. He continued his education by studying Medicine and after qualifying, spent time working as a doctor in Australia for two years. He is a Specialty Doctor with the Leeds Autism Diagnostic Service (LADS) for two and half days in a week and Psychiatry of Learning Disability for two and a half days. He has maintained a keen interest in autism and other neurodevelopmental conditions.
Clinical Team Manager
As team manager of the Leeds Autism Diagnostic Service, Sarah aims to make sure all people accessing the service have the best possible experience.
To ensure this, service users are asked for feedback at every stage of the pathway and this is regularly collected and utilised in service improvement work. Sarah uses her clinical and managerial experience to support the team so that they can deliver a clinical service with high standards in safety and clinical excellence.
Joanne works as an Occupational Therapist for the Leeds Autism Diagnostic Service and Leeds Adult ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) Service. Joanne brings a wealth of experience to the team having worked in the organisation for 13 years in various teams. Joanne qualified as an Occupational Health Therapist in 2005.
Joanne supports our service users given a diagnosis of autism by providing specialist advice around reasonable adjustments required in the workplace.
Janet qualified as a Learning Disability Nurse at Bradford University in 2004. She was seconded into a 12 month project for the Leeds Clinical Commissioning Groups to pilot a project of facilitating quality and improving the uptake of annual health checks for adults with Learning Disabilities. Shortly after she was involved with two other nurses in a two year CQUIN within the 3 CCG areas of Leeds to continue implementing the pilot work.
She currently works as an Autism Nurse within the Leeds Diagnostic Service as part of the Multi-Disciplinary Team utilising specialist assessments. She is also part of the team providing autism awareness training to other professionals, carers and students within the LYPFT.
Vicky is a specialist autism Nurse who has worked with the Leeds Autism Diagnostic service for 1 year. Vicky qualified as a registered Nurse for Learning Disabilities 14 years ago and has worked in Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust in various positions.
Vicky is very passionate about providing service users with high quality care & takes a keen interest in ensuring the pathway remains efficient & a fulfilling experience for service users.
Neurodevelopment Service Team Co-ordinator
Emma has worked in the NHS for 10 years. Prior to coming into the Leeds Autism Diagnostic Service Emma was employed by Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust in the Community Administration Team. Emma started working for LADS in 2017 as the Team Coordinator. Emma’s main responsibility in the service is to ensure healthcare professionals are supported adequately to perform their roles.
Service Support Secretary
Michaela has worked with the Leeds Autism Diagnostic Service since inception of the service in 2013.
- Useful links and resources
More information on autism can be found by visiting the sites below:
You can also download research papers authored by members of the Leeds Autism Diagnostic Service:
- Are we good and are we safe? Measuring quality and assessing risk in an adult autism diagnostic service
- How useful are the Adult Asperger Assessment and AQ-10 within an adult clinical population of all intellectual abilities
- No exclusions – developing an autism diagnostic service for adults irrespective of intellectual ability
- What is the association between ADI-R scores and final diagnosis of autism in an all IQ adult autism diagnostic service