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Autism diagnosis waiting time Autism is usually defined as a long-term developmental disability that affects the person communication and how they relate to others. It is called a spectrum condition because it affects different individuals in varying degrees. It usually appears before the age of three, impacting several areas of development in a child or a young person’s life. (Carew, 2009)Providing a diagnosis for a child who is showing signs of autism is one of the most fundamental steps that need to be taken in order to provide the necessary services. Autism awareness in society has moved to the front line of education and research after an outbreak 1998 when Dr. Andrew Wakefield published a case study to emphasise that an environmental exposure like vaccines might cause autism. (Wakefield AJ 1998)The recent increase in autism awareness has led to more referrals compared to previous years, resulting in long delays in diagnosing young children with autism. Therefore the NHS is urged to respond by viewing autism diagnosis the same way other illness are viewed. Primary healthcare trust has the duty to provide a range of services to children and young people with autism, and this paper will attempt to explore the quality of the services provided by the NHS.Recent research shows that children are kept waiting for years for a diagnosis, and these delays are causing children to experience avoidable mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety. (Kogan, 2009)Professor Patricia Howlin and Dr. Anna Moore conducted a study in the 1990’s to emphasise the lengthy procedure parents and children have to endure to obtain an autism diagnosis. Now more than 20 years later the delays are still very similar, and parents are still unsatisfied with the diagnostic process. (Howlin P and Moore A 1997)Further Research conducted by Dr. Laura crane at Goldsmith University London shows in one sample of 1000 parents surveyed that the average delays from referral to health professional for diagnosis is 3.5 years. (Crane, L 2016)The above finding suggests that the autism diagnostic assessment should start within 3 months of the referral to the autistic team, and that is due to the fact that autistic children if not diagnosed early enough are highly to develop other developmental conditions such as ADHD and attention defect. This means that early diagnosis and intervention could help reduce the severity of these conditions, it can also reduce future negative economic impacts. (Exkorn 2005)Further research suggested that delays between referral and diagnostic can cause more potential harm to children, and it can also lead to stress and anxiety for parents who cannot understand their child needs. The NHS are constantly introducing new guidelines and procedures that restrict the diagnosis to only the most severe cases. Leaving many children without access to diagnosis and the specialist support they critically need. The support for commissioning for autism NICE stated: “Investment in local autism services also contributes to a reduction in GP appointment, fewer emergency admissions and less use of mental health services in times of crisis, including the use of inpatient psychiatric services”. According to the national autistic society, NHS England can save a large amount of money currently spent on mental health services to support autistic people who don’t have the sufficient care they need, as they don’t have a diagnosis. Further research suggested that many children on the spectrum are often misdiagnosed with ADHD or sensory processing issues, and autism isn’t picked up on until the increase in school and social demands. ADHD and sensory processing issues are common, and often considered symptoms of the disorder. But if practitioners and parents stop there they can cause a delay an autism diagnosis. The above findings suggest that high functioning children often fall of the safety net due to how society views them as naughty rather than autistic, Ignoring different factors that individual presents. A recent study found that a large number of children who don’t exactly meet the full criteria for an autism diagnosis also struggle with autism symptoms. (Wiggins LD 2015)One of the cases I came across had a successful and quick autism diagnosis, it is the case of 2-year-old child who was diagnosed with autism 10 months after his initial doctor appointment. The boy parents realised that their son had certain delays when his speech wasn’t developing like his peers. The raised the concern with their child health visitor, and they were referred to a specialised pediatric clinic for further assessment. Aside from the health visitor quick response, and the adequate assessment the doctors provided, the borough the family lived in provides a large amount of funding for autisms research and diagnosing, which in return played a big part in how fast the child received his diagnosis. (Ambitious about autism 2017)Recent surveys put Autism Spectrum Disorder at about 1 percent of the general population. A single successfully and expeditiously diagnosed case among 100 other cases isn’t enough. The government recently released new guidelines to ensure the implementation of autism strategy for adults in the community, ensuring that local authorities follow certain actions to meet the needs of people with autism living in their area. The government does not have any similar bills for children and young people on the autism spectrum. (NICE 2016).The above claims did not go unchallenged. Many local and international autism campaign have been working extremely hard to influence the people who have the power to make decisions about the quality of services provided for autistic children. Recently during a debate in the Parliament specifically on autism waiting times, Health Minister, Jackie Doyle-Price MP, announced “autism diagnosis waiting times in England would be recorded from April next year” it’s a fundamental step to help reduce diagnosis waiting times.While this may be acceptable some parents and careers cannot bare the wait, so they feel compelled to pay privately to have their child diagnosis. Putting extra strain and financial pressure on parents in an already stressful situation. Once correctly diagnosed the child will receive the support they need in school via a specially structured education and health care plan which can lead to a life-changing resulting for the child.Private diagnosis is often met with a rejection from the local authorities, and they often demand for an NHS diagnosis before providing the necessary services. Some local authorities believe that private diagnosis is driven by parents believes, as well as private providers ulterior motives. Leading to more stress on the family who are faced with this situation (Child law advice 2014)Even though many of the providers genuinely want to help the child, and are equally frustrated by the bureaucracy of the NHS, they’re still accused of providing a diagnosis for the financial advantages. The private specialist who provide private diagnosis often work for the NHS as well as in their private clinics.In conclusion, autism is a growingly known disorder. It is not considered a mental health issue in itself, but autistic children may develop a mental health problem as result of their conditions, and the lack of quick diagnosis can contribute to the development of further issues. Therefore an early diagnosis can help prevent the development of complications, and it can also unlock the right types support for children and their families.Mostly the reason behind the delays in diagnosis of autism is the lack of autism experts who are legally qualified to assess and reach a diagnostic conclusion, and the lack of funding that needs to support children with autism. NHS needs to address the fundamental issue that it is faced with; and view autism the same way other illnesses are viewed by ensuring that sufficient funding is allocated for autism support and research, as well as understanding the urgency of supply and demand by increasing the number of specially trained physicians and psychologists who can successfully diagnosis autism. Local authorities can also help shorting the waiting times by accepting the private diagnosis and provide the children with the help and services they critically need while they are waiting for NHS diagnosis. I feel passionate about an aim that was raised during a parliament debate about autism waiting time which is to ensure that every single person that is employed by the government should have a module during their training about autism. So the needs of autistic children and their families are known widely. (Parliament live tv. 2017)I experienced the delays in diagnosing autism like every other parent while my son was waiting to be diagnosed. He was 1 year old when he presented signs of autism, he was therefore referred to the Cheyne development team for an assessment in order to receive the services he desperately needed. It took over two and half years for my son to be diagnosed. Like every other parents we faced many problems while waiting for the diagnosis, one of which is the lack of support offered by the school. Many schools can’t provide the extra help for children without sufficient funding. The school cannot allocate the funding without an education, health and care plan, which is extremely difficult to obtain without an autism diagnosis

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