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(UK) Scotland: Kids waiting up to 4yrs for ASD dx; 'we are facing a lost generation of children'

April 2, 2024, Scottish Daily Mail: Children are waiting up to FOUR years for an autism diagnosis: Ministers slam 'harmful' delays that stop kids 'getting the help they need'

Children are suffering 'harmful' waits of more than four years for diagnoses of autism and mental health conditions.

One youngster waited 1,518 days – about four years and a month – for their diagnosis at NHS Ayrshire and Arran.

Another at NHS Tayside had to wait 1,323 days – about three-and-a-half-years – to get their diagnoses of neurodevelopmental disorders confirmed by medics. 

Waiting lists for autism assessments don't fare much better south of the border amid staff shortages and increasing demand.

Tens of thousands of children with suspected autism in England have been waiting at least three months for an assessment to confirm their diagnosis.

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidance states that no-one should wait longer than that length of time.

But almost three quarters of 110,000 children in the NHS system with an open autism referral were in this position in December, figures show. [82,000 children]

This rises to 100 per cent at one trust, according to MailOnline analysis of the latest available data. 

All of the 2,645 under-18s open autism referrals at Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (FT) have been waiting 13-plus weeks for an assessment. 

High rates were also logged at Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS FT (94 per cent), North East London NHS FT and East Kent Hospitals University NHS FT (both 93 per cent). . . .

Party leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said: 'For parents and children waiting on a diagnosis to open the door to support services, these revelations will be depressingly familiar.\

'These inordinate waits can be particularly harmful for children with autism and neurodevelopmental concerns. 

'It only delays a diagnosis that will be key to making sure they get the help they need in other aspects of their lives.

'Scottish Liberal Democrats have repeatedly called for better support, and now it's time for the Health Secretary to act to ensure that all those waiting get the help they need.'

His comments came as the Scottish Children's Services Coalition (SCSC) called for more support for children and young people with additional support needs, such as autism, dyslexia and mental health problems.

It said that spending per pupil on additional learning support had fallen by more than a third, from £5,698 in 2012-13 to £3,764 in 2022-23.

The number of additional support needs children more than doubled to 241,639 – more than a third of all pupils – between 2021 and 2022. 

Meanwhile, the SCSC said the number of full-time equivalent additional support needs specialist teachers had fallen from 3,390 to 2,844, a decrease of 16 per cent.

A spokesperson added: 'We are facing a lost generation of children and it is vital that they get the care and support they need.'

Some experts have repeatedly pointed to this being a result of a growing awareness of the spectrum disorder, which was only widely diagnosed as its own condition this century. . . .

However, others have pointed to the 'wild-west' of autism screening in England could mean over-diagnosis could also be playing a part. . . . 

And again in 2021, experts found autism diagnoses in England had soared by an 'exponential' 787 per cent in 20 years. . . .



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