Complex neurodevelopmental service

The clinic provides specialist assessments and treatment plans for children with possible neurodevelopmental or neuropsychiatric disorders. These include autistic spectrum condition (ASC), Tourette’s syndrome, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and more complex presentations of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

What is ASC?

Autism spectrum condition (ASC) is the medical term for autism. Every autistic person is different, and some features of ASC include social communication difficulties, restricted behaviours or interests, and sensory sensitivities.

For more information on autism, please see the following links:

It is common for people with ASC to have co-occurring conditions such as ADHD, anxiety, depression, OCD, eating disorders, sleep disturbance/disorders, and tic disorders, including Tourette’s.

What is our referral process?

We can accept complex neurodevelopmental assessment referrals for children and adolescents aged 6-18 who have a Camden or Barnet GP and live in either Camden or the following Barnet postcodes: NW2, NW11, N3.

Please note that for patients with a Camden GP, we only accept referrals to this clinic for complex presentations of ADHD. Referrals of Camden patients for ASC assessments only will not be accepted by Royal Free CAMHS.

Referrals must be made in writing by a GP, paediatrician, teacher, psychiatrist, or another CAMHS professional. Referrals must include enough information regarding the following:

  • What symptoms the young person displays
  • How long the symptoms have been present
  • Whether the young person exhibits these symptoms at school, at home, or in other settings
  • Important background information, such as family breakdown, social services involvement, moving from a different city or country, languages spoken at home, etc

All referrals are screened by our team before a patient is accepted into our assessment clinic.

What is the assessment process like?

Prior to a first appointment, parents, teachers and, if old enough, the child themselves, will be asked to complete some questionnaires. These are for us to learn about the young person ahead of meeting them in clinic and help to standardise the assessment process. Please note that all patients are required to complete these forms, even if a child already has been assessed and diagnosed by a clinician in the private health sector. Families will also be asked for permission to contact relevant agencies for further information before assessment.

Once a patient's questionnaires are returned to Royal Free CAMHS, the forms will be screened. If a complex neurodevelopmental assessment is appropriate based on our screening, the patient will be added to our waiting list.

When the young person reaches the top of our waiting list, the family will be invited to an initial assessment. Please note, due to a backlog of referrals and assessments caused by COVID-19, our waiting times are longer than usual. 

Assessments are conducted by a multi-disciplinary team consisting of a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, Clinical Psychologist, and Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist. There are usually other members of the team also present. 

When the assessment is complete you will receive a report providing a summary of our conclusions and how these were reached. We encourage families to share this report with the young person’s school so that appropriate accommodations can be made.

What happens following the assessment?

Follow-up assessment appointments are often required. These may include:

  • Observation of the child/young person in a different setting, e.g., school
  • Cognitive or neuropsychological assessment
  • Specialist diagnostic assessment e.g., Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS)

Following the assessment, some children/young people are followed up in the clinic. Others are seen within our wider CAMHS service for the recommended interventions, such as child psychotherapy or family therapy. Some children/young people are referred to local or other CAMHS services if more appropriate.