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Education Local Offers

Social Communication Difficulties (SCD) Panel

The Social Communication Difficulties (SCD) Panel refers to an autism diagnosis process for children and young people (here on in referred to as children). 

The process first involves professionals from different groups (e.g. speech and language therapy, paediatrics, clinical/educational psychology) gathering information about a child’s strengths and difficulties in different areas.  The professionals then come together (at a meeting called the SCD Panel) to decide whether the child’s behaviour can be best explained in the context of autism or Asperger’s (an area of the wider autism ‘spectrum’).  To do this, they look at diagnostic criteria – currently known as the ICD-10. 

Information for the SCD Panel is usually gathered through discussions with the child and their parents, observations of the child in school and/or at home, and individual play/talk sessions with the child. 

Please note: we are currently experiencing a very high demand for autism assessments and so waiting times have rapidly increased.  We appreciate that this is frustrating for families and are in the process of redesigning the pathway to ensure the process is much more efficient.   Information will be updated on the Local Offer in due course. 

Age: The SCD Panel is for children/young people aged between 0-18 years; however it is highly unlikely that a diagnosis would be given prior to the age of 2-3 years.

0 to 18
Access to this service

The SCD Panel currently only accepts referrals for assessment from Paediatricians, Educational Psychologists (or equivalent), Speech and Language Therapists, Portage workers (younger children), and CAMHS practitioners. Please note: referrals from CAMHS are only accepted where the child has ongoing and current involvement with a practitioner.  It is not possible for referrals to the SCD Panel to be made through Contact Point as the primary role of this service is supporting children’s mental health.

One of the professionals listed may raise the terms “social communication difficulties” and “autism” or “Asperger’s” with parents and should tell them a bit more about what these mean and the diagnosis process. To refer to the Panel, they will ask parents and their child for some information and ask that they sign a consent form to give permission for information to be collected and shared.   

By referring to the SCD Panel, the professional is questioning whether a child’s behaviour is consistent with autism or Asperger’s or not. Therefore a child who is referred to the Panel does not necessarily receive a diagnosis. 

At the end of the process there are three possible outcomes: autism diagnosis, Asperger’s diagnosis, or no diagnosis.  Sometimes it is agreed at the SCD Panel that further information is required or more time is needed in order to securely reach a diagnostic decision.  In this instance, further assessments are requested or a period of ‘watchful waiting’ may be suggested.  It is likely the child will be discussed at a second Panel before a decision is made.

Who this service is for

The SCD Panel is for children and young people with significant social interaction and social communication difficulties whose profile may be explained by autism or Asperger’s. For some parents, a diagnosis explains a set of behaviours and helps make sense of their child’s unique strengths and difficulties.  Other parents do not feel it is necessary to seek a diagnosis and do not have to agree to a referral being made.

The SCD Panel results in a diagnostic outcome only. A diagnosis does not equate to a specific package of support or provision.  Children who receive a diagnosis of autism or Asperger’s do not always need a high level of additional/different support to that of their peers and are able to do well in school with a carefully planned curriculum.  However, where parents have concerns about their child at school, they should speak with the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo) in the first instance who can give them advice and discuss any educational needs their child may have.  Parents do not need to wait for the diagnosis process to be completed to have these conversations as support is dependent on need, not on a diagnosis.

For parents and professionals who would like to find out more about autism and Asperger’s, East Riding’s Inclusion Practitioners run NAS (National Autistic Society) seminars throughout the year and across the authority. The seminars cover three broad topics: Understanding Autism, Managing Anger, and Sensory Needs. The seminars are advertised through ‘Look Ahead’ and are attended by a range of parents and professional groups.  Places are limited and need to be booked in advance.

Parent and sibling involvement
Parents and carers are a key part of the autism assessment and their views are fed into the process.
Training acquired to support children and young people with SEND and their families
All professionals who form part of the SCD Panel or who write contributory reports have received training specific to their field.
Opening times
You can speak to an SCD Panel representative at the following times: 
Monday to Thursday 8.30am-4.30pm 
If there is nobody available to take your call, a message can be left and somebody will get back to you.   
Cost of service and payment options
There is no cost for this service.
Contact information
Telephone: (01482) 392254 and ask for the socal communication difficulties panel.
Email: or and mark your email with “SCD Panel” in the subject box.

Contacts for comments, compliments and complaints
In the first instance, please contact Dr Lucy Pugh, Specialist Senior Educational Psychologist (and SCD Panel member), on (01482) 392254 or email as above.
There is no map available for this service
Page last updated: Monday, 18 August 2014