The Ealing social communication assessment team (SoCA) is a multidisciplinary team made up of paediatricians, speech therapists, an occupational therapist and a specialist health visitor.

The team works together to assess young children who have social communication difficulties, to identify if there is a medical diagnosis that may explain their difficulties. The most common diagnosis made by this team is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). 

We are one of three teams in Ealing that can assess and diagnose people with ASD. The other two services are the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service neurodevelopmental team who typically see children aged 6-17, and the community learning disability team who can assess and diagnose adults with ASD - they don't have to have a learning disability, despite the name. 

The social communication assessment team:
  • Dr Deborah Bird, consultant community paediatrician - clinical lead
  • Ms Gill Hilton and Ms Carolanna Rodriguez, speech and language therapists
  • Ms Yingherng Heng, occupational therapist
  • Ms Louise Clark, specialist health visitor
  • ​​​​​​​Ms Monikia Selmani, specialist health visitor supporting families following a diagnosis of ASD. 

The team is supported by an administrative team as part of the Ealing Child Development Team. 


To be assessed by the team, a child must meet the following criteria.

They must be:

  • Eligible for NHS services
  • Registered with a GP in the Ealing CCG and live within 1 mile of the boundaries of the London Borough of Ealing. Children who have an Ealing GP but live outside borough borders will be advised to change GP to a local practice.
  • In a nursery or school setting and have attended 1-2 terms prior to referral (home educated school-age children are exempt from this requirement, nursery age children are not)
  • Seen by speech and language therapy and have received either one block of therapy or a minimum of 1-2 terms of support from the team in nursery/school before being referred for ASD assessment.
  • Aged 3-5yrs old. Children aged 2-3yrs old may be accepted for ASD assessment, however they would need to meet the other criteria as well. Children under 2 are not accepted for ASD assessments but may be referred for general developmental support for general advice; or
  • Aged 6-17 with a learning disability.

A learning disability is a medical diagnosis, sometimes also called intellectual impairment or disability, or cognitive impairment. This shouldn't be confused with learning difficulties - a term used in education to describe children needing extra support in school.

Learning disability is identified with cognitive IQ testing which is carried out by psychologists.

The service cannot accept referrals for IQ testing.

More information on learning disabilities and the evidence needed can be found in the guide for professionals on referring children to the social communication pathway (PDF).

You can find more about referrals as a parent in our Social communication assessment information for parent referrals (PDF).