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Teenage Zone

Teenage Zone

Teenage Zone

If you think you are showing signs of neurodivergent needs you can now access a new tool which can help identify what support you may need.

The neurodiversity (ND) profiling tool is the first step in identifying neurodiversity within young people up to aged 19. It was initially piloted with 50 families in Portsmouth from March 2021 to April 2022.

It has now been adopted by Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly to support the early identification and early help of children and young people presenting with neurodevelopmental needs.

If you or your family or school think you may be showing signs of autism, attention deficit disorder (ADHD), Dyspraxia, or other neuro-developmental needs, you can request the ND profiling tool to be completed.

This will be done jointly with a trained professional alongside you if appropriate and your family. Usually these are people who work with children or young people, so you are encouraged to speak to your school or college or other trusted professional such as a youth worker or social worker to request a profile in the first instance.  If they haven’t been trained it the Tool it is easy for them to do so.

They can then help you by having a “guided conversation” about the things that you find difficult or more challenging than your friends.  This will help you and your family and scool/college to understand your needs better and to pt things in place to help you.

The Neurodiversity pathway wants to shift the culture away from diagnosis and labels into a more needs led approach, including all those who may need support despite their profiling not meeting a diagnostic threshold. This will be achieved by having agreement and understanding on the language used by care givers, health professionals and other professionals.

It is important to note, this profiling tool is not to remove or replace diagnosis that ASDAT or Children Adolescent and Mental Health Services (CAMHS) currently assesses. Rather, it is an additional extra structure that is to be used by professionals, parents and young people which can support and manage the needs of young people. This may be sufficient in itself or further assessment may still be required in some circumstances.

A Person-Centred Approach

Traditional pathways consist of ‘referral’ for ‘specialist assessment’ leading to a ‘diagnosis’ of a specific ‘disorder’. At the end of the pathway users are sometimes puzzled that there is usually no further clinical input or support for educational adjustment. Likewise, there is an issue once a diagnosis is given; it is rarely personalized to your individual needs. This leads to a less effective support plan. This is where the profiling tool will help. We aim to input the psychoeducation during the first part of the pathway so that throughout, it will help everyone understand individual needs and how best to support them, with or without a diagnosis. At the end of the pathway, parents and professionals supporting the young person and their family will know where their key strengths and weaknesses lie and are able to support them as best as they can.

The Nine Neurodiversity Subsections

This Tool divides neurodevelopmental qualities into nine unique subsections. Each of these subsections has been extensively reviewed and evaluated by clinicians, specialists in that area, care givers and past service users, to ensure adequate descriptors and language was used to describe the observable behaviour, so it is accessible to everyone who may read it.

These nine subsections are:

1) Speech and Language
2) Energy Levels
3) Attention and Impulse Control
4) Emotional Regulation
5) Motor Skills
6) Sensory
7) Flexibility and Adaptability
8) Systemizing and Empathizing
9) Cognitive Ability

First Checks

Before you start using the profile, there are some checks you want to relate the child/young person before any decision are made on where you are going to place them on the neurodiversity subsections. These are:

  1. Masking
  2. Sleep
  3. Nutrition

As is well known, poor diet and sleeping cross over with some of the neurodiversity spectrums.

In Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly we also recommend conversations around:

  1. childhood experiences
  2. bladder and bowel difficulties
  3. vision and hearing

Childhood experiences

The experiences we have early in our lives and particularly in our early childhoods have a huge impact on how we grow and develop, our physical and mental health, and our thoughts, feelings and behaviour. Two important factors to think about when considering our mental wellbeing, are the quality of our attachment relationships and our experience of ACEs.

Bladder and bowel difficulties

Teenagers can also experience toileting problems but it isn’t something that you may necessarily want to talk about and you may worry about iton your own.  Problems that you may have with yourr bladder and bowels include having to go to the toilet for a pee more than seven times a day; having to get to the toilet in a hurry some or all of the time or having consitpation.

If you are having problems with your bladder or bowel, you should be able to get a medical pass to allow you out of lessons, so that you can go to the toilet as soon as you need to. Most schools will provide a pass if they are aware of the problem. You could ask your pastoral leader (e.g. head of house, or head of year) or ask your parent or carer to speak to them. You could ask your school nurse to arrange the pass for you.

Please see the Bladder and Bowel Teenage section for more information

Vision and hearing

Make sure you have had your vision and hearing checked to make sure you don’t have any problems.

How often should the profile be reviewed?

It is entirely up to you how often you review the profile. Someone familiar with you child could review profiles with you on a termly basis, to identify if your child has responded positively to the interventions and support made available. The Neurodiversity profile does have the ability to show improvements over time.

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