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(UK) Families wait up to 3 yrs for autism diagnosis; still longer for services

Jan 14, 2030, Independent: ‘Heartbreaking’: Parents of autistic children face waits of up to three years for diagnosis and support, charity warns https://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/autism-diagnosis-special-educational-needs-parents-families-charity-a9281951.html Families of autistic children are facing waits of up to three years for a formal diagnosis, a charity has warned. Long delays have forced parents to quit their jobs so they can fight for support for their children, while others have been left feeling “isolated and helpless” while they wait for a diagnosis. Around half (46 per cent) of families waited 18 months or longer for a formal diagnosis for their autistic child, according to a survey of nearly 4,000 parents by Ambitious about Autism. Once a diagnosis is made, nearly three in four (70 per cent) parents said they were still not offered adequate support for their child – such as therapies that help with speech and language. Helen Harland, a mother-of-two from Rainham in Kent, had to give up her part-time job during a two-year wait for an autism diagnosis for her son Evan, now four. “The amount of paperwork you have to read and the amount of phone calls you have to make because you are on a waiting list... it is incredibly time consuming, she told The Independent…. Ms Harland first noticed differences in Evan’s development when he was 18 months old after he stopped speaking and playing with toys. He was not referred for an autism assessment until he was 2 and this was then rejected due to a “lack of evidence”. … Jolanta Lasota, chief executive of the charity, said: “Many parents say they feel isolated and helpless as they wait to find out if their child has autism. “To make matters worse, our research tells us that even when families receive an autism diagnosis, they continue to struggle to access adequate help to understand and support their child’s needs and help them feel positive about the future. … It comes after parental complaints about a lack of educational provision and support for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) have surged in recent years amid a lack of funding. A new report from the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGO) has strongly criticised Richmond council’s children’s service provider for failing to support children with SEND. …