Autism & CAMHS Toolkit

The Autism Alliance and the National Autistic Society formed a Cross Sector Partnership in 2016 sponsored by the Department of Health. One of our first priorities was the access of children on the autism spectrum to community CAMHs.

This priority was decided upon due to the number of stories that we had heard from families who had struggled with obtaining the support that they needed. One of the difficulties appeared to be the rigidity of the pathways of care. Children on the spectrum often had co occurring conditions such as anxiety or depression. Parents said they were often told that difficulties were due to their child’s autism. If other conditions were identified and another path followed, staff would not understand autism and not be able to adapt services to meet needs. It is almost as if someone with autism cannot possibly also have mental health issues.

We were told that young people were taken off waiting lists due to not arriving on time or because they could not enter the premises due to environmental factors. Very few felt that their autism had been accommodated and understood in the context of their mental health problems. This often left families feeling desperate and unsupported.

As a partnership we looked at what we could do to try and support services to better meet the needs of these young people. This toolkit is our attempt to provide information and examples of good practice / ideas all in one place that might make it easier for service providers, commissioners and autistic young people and their families to attain good access to the services and support needed.

I would like to thank all of those that have helped us to develop these resources, details of whom are in the acknowledgments section.

Jane Howson – Chair of the Autism Alliance


Clicking on any of the blue links will take you to further information

Best Practice Examples / Case Studies

Access to CAMHS
This section is designed to help CAMHS providers ensure that their buildings and services are fully accessible to children and young people with autism. It outlines, with examples of best practice, a range of reasonable adjustments which should be made and resources which should be provided in support of this aim.

For young people with autism and their families this section may be helpful in setting out some of the adjustments and resources they can expect or could request from their CAMHS provider.

Care Pathways
This section is primarily intended to be of use to commissioners, although it may also provide helpful insights for CAMHS providers. It sets out best practice examples of care pathways which support the planning and provision of integrated and effective care for young people with autism and mental health issues.

Transformation Plan Report
This report summarises the findings of a comprehensive review of Children’s and Young People’s Mental Health Local Transformation Plans and an analysis of the extent to which they specifically address the needs of autistic children and young people. It is designed to help commissioners ensure that their local CAMHS are fit-for-purpose with regards to the treatment and care of all young people.

Links to 110 Local Transformation Plans and case studies of good practice in relation to autism can be found here.

Transformation Plans
This section is primarily intended for CAMHS commissioners and provides links to 110 Children’s and Young People’s Mental Health Local Transformation Plans for reference. Examples of good practice in relation to different aspects of catering to the needs of children and young people with autism are highlighted at the bottom of the page.

This section is primarily intended for CAMHS providers and sets out examples of enacting this toolkit’s recommendations for ensuring that websites are fully-accessible to children and young people with autism. A well-planned website can help to significantly reduce stress and anxiety for young people and their families prior to a first visit to CAMHS.

Families and young people may find it helpful to see what kind of resources and adjustments they should expect and can request from CAMHS providers.

Learning & Development

List of Training Providers
This section sets out a list of organisations which provide high-quality training relating to autism, mental health and CAMHS for young people with autism and their families, as well as CAMHS professionals.

National Agenda

NICE Guidelines
This section collates all NICE guidelines which are relevant to young people with autism. It is intended to help both commissioners and providers ensure that they deliver appropriate care for young people with autism by setting out the principles of effective treatment, quality standards and decision-making pathways.

Families and young people with autism may also find this section helpful as it sets out the type and standard of treatment to which they are entitled.

Policy Documents
This report summarises all of the legislation, policy, guidance and codes of practice which are relevant or partly-relevant to the care of young people with autism. It will help commissioners and providers ensure that the services they provide are always in line with their statutory duties and obligations.

This section also provides families and young people with a full understanding of their legal rights and entitlements.

Individual documents (policies, pieces of legislation etc.) can be opened via links embedded in the report.


This section provides useful reference tools for the following areas:

  • Commissioners
  • Families
  • Providers
  • Young People on the Autism Spectrum
  • How to Make Reasonable Adjustments
  • How to Make Your Website Accessible
  • Templates