BNSSG Healthier Together

Neurodiversity Transformation Programme

Waiting well: Improving support for
children who are awaiting assessment

As the Neurodiversity Programme’s work progresses, waiting lists for autism and ADHD assessment are continuing to grow. This creates a risk of harm for any neurodivergent child or young person whose needs are not being identified and met in a timely way.

In response, we have explored measures that could be implemented quickly, to improve support for children and families while they are waiting for an assessment. These measures wouldn’t replace formal assessments. However given the long waiting times, they would provide an early indication of a child or young person’s needs, and help families and professionals to identify support strategies that could be put in place right away, without needing an assessment or diagnosis.

Other pages in the Neurodiversity
Transformation Programme section:

Ideas were developed through a series of workshops in early 2024, held with local parent carers and other programme partners. Our approach has three key features:

  • Profiling tool: A new neurodiversity profiling tool would be introduced to provide early identification of a child’s needs and help families access support without requiring a formal diagnosis. It would be based on an approach already used successfully in other parts of the country and would be administered, in schools and other settings, by the professionals who work most closely with a child.
  • Advice and guidance: Children and families awaiting an assessment would be helped to access local services offering support and guidance. This is already done to some extent but the support offered varies across our area. Our aim would be to provide a standard, approach across the Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire health and care system.
  • Assessment and support for those most in need: Clinicians from the assessment service would visit schools to provide support and advice for children and young people with the highest needs, or whose needs are most urgent. This would help schools work with the assessment service to target support where it is needed most.

All parts of the model would be underpinned by a commitment across health, care and education partners that formal diagnosis should not act as a barrier to accessing timely support.

Video: Vicki Bates from Sirona care & health talks about the Portsmouth Neurodiversity Profiling Tool which will be used in the pilot.


We want to test the model with a selected number of schools before making a decision on whether to roll it out across Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire. We plan to run this pilot from October 2024 to March 2025 and will publish updates on this page in the coming months.