Autism spectrum disorder (diagnosed or suspected)

Emergency department referrals

All urgent cases must be discussed with the on-call Registrar to obtain appropriate prioritisation and treatment. Contact through:

  • Caboolture Hospital (07) 5433 8888
  • Redcliffe Hospital (07) 3883 7777
  • Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital (07) 3646 8111

Urgent cases accepted via phone must be accompanied with a written referral and a copy faxed immediately to the Central Patient Intake Unit: 1300 364 952.

If any of the following are present or suspected, refer the patient to the emergency department (via ambulance if necessary) or seek emergent medical advice if in a remote region.

  • Non-verbal child with acute distress and possible acute pain where medical condition needs exclusion, e.g. tooth abscess, bone infections or osteopaenic fractures
  • Aggressive behaviour with immediate threatening risk to self or others

Does your patient wish to be referred?

Minimum referral criteria

Does your patient meet the minimum referral criteria?

Category 1

Appointment within 30 days is desirable

  • Definite history of developmental regression

Category 2

Appointment within 90 days is desirable

  • Children < 6 years who have developmental screening / or allied health assessments indicating severe concerns across communication, social and behavioural domains suggestive of ASD
  • Children < 6 years who have developmental screening / or allied health assessments indicating concerns across communication, social and behavioural domains (suggestive of ASD) and have been unable to access NDIS
  • Is the child expected to be in out of home care supervised by the, Department of Children, Youth Justice and Multicultural Affairs for more than 6 months (only those with developmental delay)
  • A child currently in out of home care (OOHC) or at risk of entering or leaving OOHC, where they have previously been on a waiting list for this problem and were removed without receiving a service
  • Child whose behaviour is putting self or others at risk of harm
  • Child who is at risk of being relinquished into care
  • Child who cannot attend school / childcare, is on reduced hours of attendance or is at risk of / or had suspensions / expulsions
  • Children with ASD at imminent risk of losing existing resources without diagnostic review
  • Acute severe functional deterioration in a child previously diagnosed with ASD

Category 3

Appointment within 365 days is desirable

  • Most All other referrals for suspected ASD

If your patient does not meet the minimum referral criteria

Consider other treatment pathways or an alternative diagnosis.

If you still need to refer your patient:

  • Please explain why (e.g. warning signs or symptoms, clinical modifiers, uncertain about diagnosis, etc.)
  • Please note that your referral may not be accepted or may be redirected to another service

Other important information for referring practitioners

Not an exhaustive list

  • Refer to HealthPathways for assessment and management information if available
  • Developmental optometry and auditory processing assessments are not supported by evidence
  • If a concern about possible autism has been raised but there are no obvious symptoms or other reasons to suspect autism, explore further why the parent is concerned. If the school has suggested this diagnosis, ask that they provide a letter outlining the reasons for the concern.
  • Children with confirmed autism who are medically stable do not require routine assessment.
  • In the majority of cases it is thought inappropriate for children to wait more than 6 months for an outpatient initial appointment
  • If you have a reason to suspect a child in Queensland is experiencing harm, or is at risk of experiencing harm, you need to contact Child Safety Services: Department of Children, Youth Justice and Multicultural Affairs
  • Clinical urgency is the dominant consideration in the prioritisation of a referral for a child currently in out of home care (OOHC), or at risk of entering or leaving OOHC.

Referral requirements

A referral may be rejected without the following information.

History and Examination

  • Detail the parent or carer’s concern about behaviour that leads to the concern about communication, social skills and behaviour
  • If educational setting concerns are present, then a letter from the educational setting must be included in a GP referral. In the absence of a letter from the educational institution provided with the referral, the referral will be categorised Cat 3 unless they meet other non-educational criteria.
  • Report presence or absence of concerning features
    • Clear documentation of any ‘suggestive features’ for Autism observed by the GP or Clinician
    • Is there definite history of developmental regression, and if so what specific loss of skills has been noted?
    • Is the child expected to be in out of home care supervised by the Department of Children, Youth Justice and Multicultural Affairs for more than 6 months?. If so, do you consider that the child’s foster placement is at risk of breaking down due to the child’s behaviour?
  • Previous attempts to engage NDIS must be provided
  • Confirmation of OOHC (where appropriate)

Additional referral information (useful for processing the referral)

Highly desirable information – may change triage category.

  • Please comment on the duration, severity and intervention to date.
  • For children below school age an assessment report from a developmental therapist such as a psychologist or speech pathologist or both. An assessment from a multidisciplinary child development service is preferred.
  • For children attending school a school guidance officer or education department speech pathology report
  • Family history, including family members affected with ASD, ADHD, learning difficulty or mental illness
  • Either GP assessment of current developmental status (age appropriate, some delay, significant delay) or brief comment on current school educational attainments (good, average, poor, very poor (>2 years behind))
  • Has the child previously been diagnosed with ASD or other diagnosis? If so, does the child have access to Commonwealth Government Early Childhood Early Intervention Funding (ECEI- NDIS Funding)
  • Is physical aggression placing family members (e.g. younger siblings) at risk? If so, provide specific details
  • If the child is in foster care, please provide the name and regional office for the Child Safety Officer who is the responsible case manager
  • Significant psychosocial risk factors (especially parents mental health, family violence, housing and financial stress, Department of Children, Youth Justice and Multicultural Affairs involvement)
  • School history –exclusions or suspensions

Desirable information – will assist at consultation

  • Other past medical history
  • Immunisation history
  • Developmental history
  • Medication history
  • Height/weight/head circumference and growth charts with prior measurements if available.
  • Other physical examination findings inclusive of CNS, birth marks or dysmorphology
  • Any relevant laboratory results or medical imaging reports

Out of catchment

Metro North Health is responsible for providing public health services to the people who reside within its boundaries. Special consideration is made for patients requiring tertiary care or services that are not provided by their local Hospital and Health Service. If your patient lives outside the Metro North Health area and you wish to refer them to one of our services, inclusion of information regarding their particular medical and social factors will assist with the triaging of your referral.

  • Impact on employment
  • Impact on education
  • Impact on home
  • Impact on activities of daily living
  • Impact on ability to care for others
  • Impact on personal frailty or safety
  • Identifies as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
  • To establish a diagnosis
  • For treatment or intervention
  • For advice and management
  • For specialist to take over management
  • Reassurance for GP/second opinion
  • For a specified test/investigation the GP can’t order, or the patient can’t afford or access
  • Reassurance for the patient/family
  • For other reason (e.g. rapidly accelerating disease progression)
  • Clinical judgement indicates a referral for specialist review is necessary
  • Presenting symptoms (evolution and duration)
  • Physical findings
  • Details of previous treatment (including systemic and topical medications prescribed) including the course and outcome of the treatment
  • Body mass index (BMI)
  • Details of any associated medical conditions which may affect the condition or its treatment (e.g. diabetes), noting these must be stable and controlled prior to referral
  • Current medications and dosages
  • Drug allergies
  • Alcohol, tobacco and other drugs use
  • Full name (including aliases)
  • Date of birth
  • Residential and postal address
  • Telephone contact number/s – home, mobile and alternative
  • Medicare number (where eligible)
  • Name of the parent or caregiver (if appropriate)
  • Preferred language and interpreter requirements
  • Identifies as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
  • Full name
  • Full address
  • Contact details – telephone, fax, email
  • Provider number
  • Date of referral
  • Signature
  • Willingness to have surgery (where surgery is a likely intervention)
  • Choice to be treated as a public or private patient
  • Compensable status (e.g. DVA, Work Cover, Motor Vehicle Insurance, etc.)

Send referral

Hotline: 1300 364 938

Medical Objects ID: MQ40290004P
HealthLink EDI: qldmnhhs

Metro North Central Patient Intake
Aspley Community Centre
776  Zillmere Road

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