Daisy Chain has been working with newly elected MP for Stockton South, Dr Paul Williams, to get a fair deal for families affected by autism.
Whilst campaigning, Paul was amazed to find that although the recommended wait for a diagnosis is three months, families in Stockton can wait up to four years. This trend seems to be the case across the country, but there are no official figures for waiting times to be given a diagnosis of autism.
Families from Daisy Chain and across the Tees Valley shared their stories to help inform Paul’s speech in a parliamentary debate on Wednesday 13th September, where he asked the Government for two things; to set a target for the time a diagnosis of autism should take and to collect data on waiting times across the country. Almost every other health condition is measured in this way but not an autism diagnosis.
Stuart Dexter, Daisy Chain CEO, said:
At Daisy Chain, we know first hand the distress that a delayed autism diagnosis can cause to families. Although a diagnosis isn’t everything, it triggers certain support services, enables families to put strategies in place to accommodate the needs of their children and opens the doors to appropriate education services.
Dr Paul Williams said:
This isn’t about the quality of services being offered, it’s about overcoming the fragmentation of NHS services, which is particularly prominent with autism where professionals from four different organisations are often involved in the diagnosis process. In order to help families and people with autism across Teesside, this Government needs to treat autism as a priority – measure the figures of people diagnosed with autism and impose targets for the diagnosis times. A child with autism cannot afford to lose years of their education awaiting diagnosis, just as the families cannot struggle to cope without key services.
Autism affects 1 in 100 people and it is estimated that 2.8 million people in the UK are in families affected by autism. By collecting data on how long it takes to receive a diagnosis and by setting a target for waiting times to receive a diagnosis, families can be reassured by knowing when they can expect to receive a diagnosis of autism and the support services they need.