1,000 signatures reached
To: North Kirklees Clinical Commissioning Group
Reduce Autism diagnosis waiting times for children in Kirklees
Set up a specialist diagnosis service for children with autism in Kirklees.
Children in Kirklees are in limbo, having to wait over three years to be assessed for an autism diagnosis. This is having a knock-on impact on all areas of their lives, including their education and mental health.
Why is this important?
My son 3 ½ year old son Fredi has been waiting a year and half for an autism diagnosis, and I know of many other families who have been waiting for more than two years. There are over 240 children waiting for an autism diagnosis in Kirklees. Over 190 of them have been waiting longer than the 3 months recommended by national guidance, and some have been waiting over two years. Only 2 children a month are currently receiving a diagnosis.
I am having to pay thousands of pounds for my son to receive private support for his autism because I can’t get support through the NHS. Other desperate families are resorting to spending £3000 pounds for their children to be diagnosed privately.
A diagnosis is a gateway to support, and without a diagnosis, it will be hard for Fredi to get the support he needs at school or to be able to access activities for children with disabilities. A late diagnosis can affect children’s development, and may have a knock on effect throughout my son’s life.
Children can be diagnosed with autism when they’re quite young, in some cases from the age of two. Children are referred for an assessment by their GP, and should be seen by a team of professionals, who will use questionnaires, interviews and observations to decide whether a child has autism. They can also offer advice to parents on how to manage their child’s autism, and can direct them to other services who can support the child and their family.
In Kirklees, the child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) are responsible for autism diagnosis. CAMHS workers are having to do autism assessments alongside their day to day work supporting children with mental health problems. Last year, the service was given £360,000 to bring down the waiting list for autism diagnosis. A specialist team including a paediatrician, psychologist and speech and language therapist was hired to complete diagnoses and diagnosed 60 children. The team was disbanded in March when the money ran out and parents are left with the prospect of waiting years for a diagnosis for their children.
• A dedicated unit to be set up to diagnose children with autism in Kirklees
• Additional funding and staff to be put in place as a matter of urgency to reduce the waiting list for autism diagnosis in Kirklees