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(UK) Fife: Families wait two-and-a-half years just for ASD diagnosis

Dec 29, 2021, Dundee Courier: ‘Trying to get blood out of a stone’: Fife families struggle as autism diagnoses take two-and-a-half years https://www.thecourier.co.uk/fp/politics/scottish-politics/2863959/trying-to-get-blood-out-of-a-stone-fife-families-struggle-as-autism-diagnoses-take-two-and-a-half-years/

Scotland

A Fife mother says hundreds of families are struggling because of the two-and-a-half year wait for an autism diagnosis. At the beginning of December, 1,085 young people were waiting for an appointment to get an autism diagnosis, with the average waiting time between referral and first appointment standing at two-and-a-half-years. Liza Quin, who runs Autism Rocks in Buckhaven, had to wait three years for her daughter Alannah, 17, to get a diagnosis – but she says others are waiting far longer. She says appointments are “like gold dust” and trying to get one is like getting “blood out of a stone”. ‘IT IS A CONSTANT STRUGGLE’ Ms Quin says the problems with autism diagnoses in the area are down to a lack of professionals and a lack of funding. She said: “Since the pandemic you can’t get face-to-face assessments and trying to do any assessment for autism or anything like that online is not possible. “The pandemic has delayed everything, but sadly they can’t use that excuse for before the pandemic hit…. FAMILIES JUDGED FOR INVISIBLE DISABILITY Currently Autism Rocks supports 2,350 families with autism in and around Fife. She says coping with a family member who has autism is isolating and hard work, but adds this can be even harder for a family who are waiting on an autism diagnosis. Ms Quin added: “I only have one child on the spectrum but some families at Autism Rocks have two or three on the spectrum, or have one diagnosed and another waiting for a diagnosis. “It is an invisible disability and people don’t understand it so we get judged because of it…. “It all boils down to money at the end of the day, and it shouldn’t be that way. “Early intervention is key because if they don’t get any early intervention they are left to it.”… The Scottish Greens say it is “unacceptable” the situation has been left to get this bad in Fife. Mark Ruskell, Green MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, said: “Families in Fife who are waiting for autism assessments for their children are at crisis point. “The pandemic brought a halt to face-to-face assessments, leading to a backlog of more than 1,000 young people waiting for appointments. “However, it is simply not acceptable that the situation has been allowed to reach this point. “We need to see progress fast to ensure all those who are waiting receive all the support they need.” APPOINTMENTS TO INCREASE IN 2022 Fife Health and Social Care Partnership says it is investing in autism services to bring the number of appointments available each month to 164. They say they are also introducing a network to support families in the New Year and offering teachers more training…. “These new roles will enable us to significantly increase our monthly assessment capacity from 32 to 164…. Dad Andrew Tennant said: “We spoke to a solicitor to apply for guardianship prior to Blake’s 16th birthday and we were told it is quite slow to process that in Fife. “We filled out all the forms but since then we have heard nothing and until we do we are in limbo. “Legally, if he decides he wants to move out or leave school, he is 16 and considered an adult. “We were living in England and it still took painfully long to get him diagnosed, but from speaking to other parents in Fife, the waiting time is abysmal.” Mum Samantha Tennant added: “We need support but it is not offered, and when it is we have to travel a long way to access anything. “We don’t get respite support. “They need more staff, it is so under-staffed because there is no one to do any assessments...

Samantha and Andrew Tennant with son Blake