Autism diagnosis needs to speed up
Children's Health The shocking truth of waiting times and healthcare training in relation to diagnosing Autism has been revealed through a survey conducted by Anna Kennedy OBE. The results were highlighted in a meeting with officials at the Department of Health earlier this year.
The survey revealed that the average waiting time for initial diagnosis in children is five years. Through working closely with psychologists, psychiatrists and GPs, Anna discovered that, though it is hard to deliver an exact number, when training, medical professionals only encounter 1-5 children on the autism spectrum. The maximum time spent understanding autism is one day and this is simply a short module on child psychology.
Anna emphasises that this lack of training can be very detrimental in diagnosis, as early intervention and a thorough understanding is critical.
“There isn’t any direction in the action of diagnosis and, for too many years, people have tried to fit an issue in a box that it never will.”
Anna is becoming frustrated with the unclear guidelines set out by the NHS and professionals within the health service. Some parents across the UK with children who have previously been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, which is now Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are now being told that this particular
diagnosis no longer exists, and that their child’s symptoms no longer meet what is considered Asperger’s.
Anna Kennedy said: “The survey results came from many frustrated parents, who contacted me via social media and through our charity website, querying the waiting times and delays in autism diagnosis. The survey received 150 responses in two days and 2,000 in three weeks, and the results were very defining.”
“The survey received 150 responses in two days and 2,000 in three weeks, and the results were very defining”
Anna goes on to say that more interaction with people like our charity will HELP the Department of Health because it crosses that gulf between the actual family struggling and that person they view as sat behind a desk somewhere not caring.
Anna Kennedy Online national autism charity states that there should be an automatic ‘flagging’ system that highlights when a child/adult waiting for diagnosis has gone through a certain time frame, which then calls for immediate action. So let’s say, as an example, if for any person referred a 3 month period passes with nothing being done, it is flagged up and possibly triggers direct action. The idea is that a time frame is not just put in place as a ‘Best Practice’ but is also policed.
Anna stressed all medical professionals need to work together to overcome this problem and improve the waiting times that children are diagnosed, since early intervention is crucial for children on the Autism spectrum.
Dame Stephanie Shirley 'One in ten families resort to private funding to speed things up and all the statistics seem to be linked to Local Authority groupings and in Wales the wait time appears to be seven years. With the huge increase in the numbers of children being diagnosed , even if a diagnosis is achieved the queues grow even longer.