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(UK) Children wait 2 and 4 yrs for autism assessments; 5 yr plan to end wait times

Oct 29, 2021, Worthing Herald: Autism assessments crisis: Worthing mum campaigns for emergency fund to ease backlog after two-year wait for daughter’s autism assessment

S. coast of England Sonya Mallin, who has ten-year-old twin girls, has joined forces with Jess Tomlinson from Warwickshire to call on the government to provide resources to reduce autism and ADHD assessment waiting times for children and adults. Jess started a petition after waiting nearly four years for her son’s assessment and then joined forces with Sonya to launch the Months Not Years campaign to highlight just how widespread the problem has become. They have never met in person but they are united in the belief that something needs to be done to resolve the current crisis in the NHS-funded children and young people’s mental health services (CYPMHS). Sonya said: “We’ve been waiting nearly two years for my daughter to go through the assessment. It’s exhausting! I wish we were an isolated case but I don’t know any family that has engaged with this process and had a positive experience. “We have to fight for every scrap of support for our children both before and during diagnosis. At the very least, we should expect the assessment to take #MonthsNotYears…. Families can make a referral for an assessment through the health visitor if the child is under five, through a special educational needs co-ordinator, staff at school or their GP. In Sonya’s case, she spoke to all three but it was only when her daughter was taken to a private counsellor because she was so anxious that the question of autism was raised. Sonya said: “By that time, she was eight years old. We were then referred in November 2019 and are still waiting for the outcome of the assessment. She’s now 10. It’s disgusting.”… Jess, a mother of three, had been fighting for support for her younger son since 2016 before he was put on the waiting list for an assessment in March last year. Her eldest child, a ten-year-old boy, has been waiting nearly four years. The government launched its national five-year strategy for autistic children, young people and adults in July but Jess said funding had been agreed only for the first year and no detail had been provided on how they would deal with the immediate bottleneck of assessments…. “Bringing down waiting times is a priority in the NHS Long-Term Plan and the Government’s new five-year autism strategy promises to address this with £13million [$18M] allocated. This is important but only the first year of the strategy has funding at the moment. The Government must honour its commitments to autistic people and families by fully funding the strategy in the upcoming Spending Review. “For thousands of autistic children, adults and families, progress can’t come quickly enough.”


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