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Plymouth Autism Spectrum Service

The Plymouth Autism Spectrum Service (P.A.S.S.) has been developed to provide a dedicated and specialist service for adults with autism, their families, health and social care services and to collaborate with community organisations within Plymouth.


Who is in the P.A.S.S. Team?
P.A.S.S. is a small psychology led team which includes occupational therapists, speech and language therapists, social workers and other allied health professionals. P.A.S.S. works alongside and collaborates with community partners.


How and why P.A.S.S. has been developed?
The establishment of the Plymouth Autism Spectrum Service (P.A.S.S.) was advocated for by Plymouth’s Autism Partnership Board and commissioned by Plymouth City Council as part of a wider Devon Sustainability Partnership Trust initiative. This commissioning has been influenced by key legislation; The Autism Act 2009 and its statutory guidance, the NHS Long Term Plan and the Transforming Care Agenda.

P.A.S.S. has been developed to provide a dedicated and specialist service for adults with autism, their families, health and social care services and to collaborate with community organisations within Plymouth.

Services have not been adequately meeting the needs of adults with autism; this has huge implications for people with autism and the wider community. It is known that adults with autism are less likely to be in fulfilling employment; may need more support to live independently; may experience reduced access to social and leisure opportunities; often experience enduring discrimination and are more likely to develop mental health problems.

It is important that people with autism feel empowered, enabled and advocated for to have equal opportunities to participate in community life. To feel supported to live a meaningful and rewarding life, on their own terms and unique ways.

P.A.S.S. has attempted to be as accessible as possible for the people that need our support and have therefore collaborated with the autism community to help set the foundations of the service and will continue to do so as it develops. P.A.S.S. intends to embed its self and be integrated with Plymouth’s community, services and organisations.  P.A.S.S. hopes that by working in this way our society will be encouraged to accept and be inclusive of neurodiversity, and that a cultural shift can be developed and sustained within Plymouth’s health, social care and community services; to embrace and adapt to the needs of adults with autism.


What does P.A.S.S. do?
P.A.S.S. intends to provide a service that is strengths-based, person-centred, holistic, time-sensitive, accessible, appropriate, dynamic and responsive. The aim is to promote and provide pro-active strategies to support adults with autism to live their lives as they want and to prevent the number of crises that they may experience.


P.A.S.S. offers three services

  1. Autism Assessment
  2. Advice Service
  3. Training and Consultation Service

Autism assessment

What is an autism assessment?
An assessment is the process of gathering and thinking about all the information about a situation or person and making a judgement.

You will be offered an assessment of Autism if there is evidence of:

  • Difficulties with social communication and social interaction across different areas of your life.
  • Restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviour, interests, or activities.

And evidence that:

  • These things have been there since early childhood.
  • These things cause clinically significant impairment in functioning.
  • You do not have a learning disability

P.A.S.S. recognises these difficulties present differently in different people.


How do I get an Autism Assessment?
You must:

  • Be aged 18 or over
  • Not already have a diagnosis of Autism
  • Not have a diagnosed learning disability
  • Be registered with a Plymouth GP
  • Be referred by your GP or health and social care worker – we do not currently accept self-referrals for autism assessments.


What will happen when P.A.S.S. receives your referral for an Autism Assessment?
If your referral is accepted we will contact you to let you know you will be added to the waiting list for assessment. We will invite you to an appointment when you are at the top of the waiting list.


What will the assessment be like?
Everyone’s assessment journey will be different.

  • Some people have two appointments.
  • Most people have four or more appointments.
  • Most people are asked to give details of someone who has known them since childhood, and who can answer questions about their early development.

Everyone is invited to a triage appointment to decide if there is enough evidence for an Autism Assessment. This will take 1 – 2 hours.

In your triage appointment you will meet in person with two clinicians. They will check that you understand what Autism is and why you were referred. They will ask you about you and the things that you find difficult. You can bring someone with you to the appointment if you like.

After this appointment you will be told one of the following:

  • You are not Autistic.
  • We will carry out at Autism Assessment.
  • We have enough evidence to give you a diganosis of Autism without more assessment.

If we decide to carry out an Autism Assessment:

  • You will be asked to come to a clinical interview which lasts 1.5 – 2 hours.
  • We will speak to someone who has known you since childhood on the telephone. This will take 1.5 – 2 hours.
  • We may need to do other assessments such as ADOS or a cognitive assessment.
  • We will discuss all the information in our Multdisciplinary Team (MDT).
  • After this we will contact you to arrange a feedback appointment where we will share the decision. It is important to know that having an Autism Assessment does not mean you will get a diagnosis of Autism.
  • The team will support you to understand the decision, why it was made and what happens next.
  • We will write to you and your referrer with our decision and the reasons for it.


Where will my Autism Assessment happen?
P.A.S.S. will offer a mixture of online, telephone, and in person appointments, dependent if you are able to do this. During periods of Lockdown we may only offer you online appointments.

P.A.S.S is located in Westbourne, Scott Business Park, Beacon Park Road, PL2 2PQ. Please do not come to the building without an agreed appointment date and time.


How long will the Assessment take?
We are usually able to give people a decision within 4-8 weeks. It can take longer, for example if you aren’t able to attend an appointment, or we need to do lots of different types of assessment.


What if I don’t want to do the Assessments?
You don’t need to do anything you are not comfortable doing. We will always check with you first. But if you choose not to do the assessment it may mean we can’t answer the question “Do I have Autism?”


What if I don’t agree with the decision?

Talk to us about your thoughts about the decision we have made. If you still do not agree, you can ask the GP to refer you to another team for a second opinion. Remember that a second opinion may or may not say the same thing.

P.A.S.S. is not a crisis service.  If you are in need of crisis help you should contact First Response on 0800 923 9323

Advice Service

You can download the referral form from the bottom of this page to self-refer to this service. 

At the Advice Service you can access:

  • 1:1 signposting and advice for adults with autism and their families
  • Navigating Autism Group
  • Navigating Anxiety Group
  • Workshops
  • Support with accessing services
  • Other community organisations

Adults with autism and their families are able to meet one of the P.A.S.S. team who will discuss current challenges and difficulties, abilities and strengths in order to identify what the person might need and want to help them live the life they want to live. Once we have a shared understanding of the persons experience we will develop an action plan together and then support the person to access relevant services to help them to achieve what they need and want for example; benefit support, employment support, housing advice, hobbies/interests and activity groups, mental health support, and social care support etc.

Community partners, where possible, will be at the Advice Service to support people with their benefits, housing advice and accessing employment support and Plymouth Options.

P.A.S.S. offers a ‘Navigating Autism’ group which aims to support and develop people’s knowledge of autism and be able to explore how it fits in with their identity.

P.A.S.S. in collaboration with Plymouth Options also offers a ‘Navigating Anxiety’ group, to understand more about anxiety and ways to cope with this.

In the future, the Advice Service will run a drop-in problem solving group and mindfulness practice group. There will also be a programme of workshops (e.g. managing relationships) for adults with autism and their families.


How do I access P.A.S.S. Advice Service?
To access the Advice Service you must be:

  • aged 18 or over
  • formally diagnosed with autism
  • registered with a Plymouth GP/Doctors

The service is for adults with autism who are not eligible to access support through the Learning Disability Service. You or somebody on your behalf can refer in to the service with your consent.

You can access P.A.S.S. by completing the referral form and sending this via post or via email at [email protected].

Once a person is open to P.A.S.S. they will be able to continually access the Advice Service when in need of support.


What will happen when P.A.S.S. receives your referral form?

We will contact you when we have received your referral form, you will be asked to send in the report for your diagnosis of autism before your first appointment.

If you are accepted to the Advice Service, you will be offered an initial session you will be given the opportunity to talk about your current experiences and together we will develop an action plan to help best meet your needs. We will support you to carry out the action plan.

After the initial session you can then access the groups and meet the other workers at the Advice Service.

Once we have met you, the service is available to you when you need support. We will check in with you 12 weeks from your first appointment with P.A.S.S. (with your consent) to see if you want further advice or support.


Who will be at P.A.S.S. Advice Service?
The P.A.S.S. team will be at the Advice Service. P.A.S.S. works alongside other health, social and community organisations and groups.


Where is the Advice Service?
Depending on your situation some appointments can be scheduled online or in person. Currently we meet people at Westbourne, Scott Business Park, Beacon Park Road, PL2 2PQ.

Please do not turn up to this address for the Advice Service without a previously arranged appointment with us.


When is the Advice Service?  
The Advice Service is on a Tuesday and Wednesday. We are flexible if you are unable to meet us on those days.

Specialist Training and Consultation Service 

P.A.S.S. offers a Specialist Training and Consultation Service available to adult Livewell Southwest services and relevant adult Plymouth City Council services.

P.A.S.S. provides training to develop teams/practitioners’ understanding of autism and provide an opportunity to enhance knowledge and skills in adapting practice when working with adults with autism. Adults with autism have the right to equitable access and service provision to health and social care services. P.A.S.S. is not a care-coordinating or case holding service and therefore will work with practitioners  but not instead of practitioners already working with the person..

Teams and practitioners can access the specialist training and consultation service by emailing [email protected]

What does P.A.S.S. Advice Service not do?

Like most services P.A.S.S. is not able to do everything, so here is a list of what we are not able to provide:

  • Work with those without a formal diagnosis of autism
  • Care-coordinate or hold a case-load
  • Work with people under the age of 18
  • Work with those with a learning disability, including conducting eligibility assessments
  • Long term therapy and interventions
  • Not a crisis service
  • Conduct parenting assessments
  • Provide private assessments or interventions
  • Or provide expert witness assessments for court


P.A.S.S. is not a crisis service.  If you are in need of crisis help you should contact First Response on 0800 923 9323.

Contact us

Plymouth Autism Spectrum Service (PASS) Assessment Team & Advice Service
Westbourne Unit, Scott Business Park, Beacon Park Road, Plymouth, PL2 2PQ.

Tel: 01752 434034
Email: [email protected]