Autism Spectrum Disorder (Diagnosed or Suspected)

Useful Management Information
  • Refer to local care pathway
  • 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:
  • Australian Psychological Society, understanding and managing autism spectrum disorder:
  • Autism Queensland:
  • Raising Children Network:
Minimum Referral Criteria

Category 1
(appointment within 30 calendar days)

  • Definite history of developmental regression
Category 2
(appointment within 90 calendar days)
  • Children < 6 who have developmental screening indicating concerns across communication, social and behavioural domains (suggestive of ASD)
  • Child expected to be in out of home care supervised by the department of child safety for more than 6 months?
  • Children with ASD at imminent risk of losing existing resources without diagnostic review
  • Acute severe functional deterioration in a child diagnosed with ASD
Category 3
(appointment within 365 calendar days)
  • Most 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
Standard Referral Information

Patient's Demographic Details

  • Full name (including aliases)
  • Date and country of birth
  • Residential and postal address including whether patient resides at an aged care facility
  • Telephone contact number/s – home, mobile and alternative
  • Medicare number (where eligible)
  • Name of the parent or caregiver (if appropriate)
  • Name of delegate and contact details (Department of Corrective Services)
  • Preferred language and interpreter requirements
  • Identifies as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
  • Any special needs, access requirements and/or disability relevant to the referral

Referring Practitioner Details

  • Full name
  • Full address
  • Contact details – telephone, fax, email
  • Provider number
  • Date of referral
  • Signature
  • Nominated general practitioner’s details (if known), if the nominated general practitioner is different from the referring practitioner

Relevant clinical information about the condition

  • 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
  • All conservative options that have been pursued unsuccessfully prior to referral
  • Body mass index (BMI)
  • Details of any associated medical conditions which may affect the condition or its treatment (e.g. diabetes, BMI), noting these must be stable and controlled prior to referral
  • Any special care requirements where relevant (e.g. tracheostomy in place, oxygen required)
  • Current medications and dosages
  • Drug allergies
  • Alcohol, tobacco and other drugs use

Reason for request

  • 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

Clinical modifiers

  • Impact on employment
  • Impact on education
  • Impact on home
  • Impact on activities of daily living functioning – low/medium/high
  • Impact on ability to care for others
  • Impact on personal frailty or safety
  • Identifies as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander

Other relevant information

  • 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

Essential referral information

Without this information the referral will be returned

  • General referral information
  • Detail the parent or carer’s concern about behaviour that leads to the concern about communication, social skills and behaviour
  • For children attending school a letter from a classroom teacher outlining the behaviours of concern
  • Report presence or absence of Red flags

    Presence of Red flags
    • 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 child safety 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?
Additional Referral Information

Highly desirable information – may change triage category.

  • 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? If so, does the child have access to Commonwealth Government Early Intervention funding through Helping Children with Autism (HCWA)?
  • 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, housing and financial stress, family violence, department of child safety 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
Clinical Override

Clinical override of referral criteria may be requested in the following situations:

  • Inability to include essential referral information. If a specific test result is unable to be obtained due to access, financial, religious, cultural or consent reasons.
  • Patient does not meet minimum referral criteria. If the patient does not meet the criteria for referral but the referring practitioner believes that the patient requires specialist review.
  • Presence of clinical modifiers. The presence of clinical modifiers (as listed above in Standard referral information) may impact on the categorisation of a patient.

Include the reason for request for clinical override as part of the referral. Referrals are reviewed by the triaging specialist who determines the most appropriate course of action.

Out of catchment

West Moreton Health is responsible for providing a public health service to people who reside within its catchment area. To appropriately manage demand for service we do not accept referrals from outside this catchment area. If your patient does live outside the West Moreton Health area and it is deemed socially or clinically necessary for their care to be received in the West Moreton Health Service, inclusion of information regarding their particular medical and/or social factors will assist with the triaging of your referral.


To provide feedback about contents on this website or general referral questions please email or phone 3413 7402.