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(Canada) SJNL: 24 to 36 month waitlist for autism assessment

Apr 10, 2023, VOCM, St. John’s Newfoundland: Wait Times for Autism Diagnosis in Province Over Two Years says Grandmother

While April is a month dedicated to raising autism awareness, many parents and guardians are calling for easier access towards getting an autism diagnosis.

A caller told VOCM Open Line with Paddy Daly that a doctor suspected her then 16-month-old grandson was on the autism spectrum, but could not give an official diagnosis.

The doctor then referred him to a specialist for a diagnosis and was told it would be at least 18 months until they could get an appointment.

She says she was “shocked” and worries that waiting so long for a diagnosis will impact him during his early developmental years.

Autism is diagnosed by a psychiatrist or psychologist, with current wait times in the province around 24-36 months according to the NL Autism Society.

Executive Director Paul Walsh says with private resources, it is possible to get a diagnosis within weeks, but it will cost nearly $3,000.

Walsh says due to the lengthy waitlist times, many people have turned to self-diagnosis, but an official assessment must be completed in order to begin treatment.

Walsh says unless there is an official diagnosis, someone who may have autism cannot receive government treatment. He says it’s not particularly harmful to be on a waitlist, but can be frustrating to be without services that can help improve certain symptoms associated with autism.


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