Adults waiting “years” for autism assessment

Some children and adults are waiting more than two years for an autism assessment, a new report has revealed.

The National Autistic Society (NAS), which published the research, said the findings should act as a “wake up call” for national and local health services.

The latest guidelines indicate that individuals should be assessed within three months of being referred by a medical professional.

However, the society’s findings suggest a stark regional difference in the time it takes for some patients to be seen.

NAS says some parts of the country are falling “woefully” short of the three-month target, with children in Berkshire facing a median wait of some 574 days for a first appointment.

Meanwhile, children in Devon and Cumbria faced delays of 271 and 253 days respectively.

Worse still, 0 per cent of adults in regions such as South Gloucestershire, the Isle of Wight and Cornwall were assessed within three months of referral.

Mark Lever, Chief Executive of the National Autistic Society, said: “It’s completely unacceptable for autistic people and families to be waiting many months, even years, for a diagnosis – just because of where they live. This research highlights the scale of the crisis and the alarming variation across the country.

“Many autistic people and parents describe their diagnosis as life changing. It can explain why someone has always felt different, help unlock barriers to vital support and enable people to take control of their lives. But long waits are traumatic and pushing people into anxiety and depression. Autistic people and families are desperate for help and are breaking down under the strain.”

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