I have had many parents approach me with concerns that their child has not been given a diagnosis of Autism despite quite clearly showing traits of the condition. Or parents find themselves on lengthy waiting lists for assessment of three to five years. There appears to be a lack of understanding of the needs of those with autism, and, how they can be identified and diagnosed as early as possible.
This then leads to a delay in children with autism securing the support that they need to help them at school. The delay in assessments and diagnosis can hinder parents’ chances of obtaining Education, Health and Care plans for their children. EHC plans detail a child’s special education needs and the provision required to meet those needs. This provision is arranged and funded by local councils. If a child’s special educational needs are left unmet, then they will struggle to access the curriculum alongside their peers and will require increased provision as they grow older.
The earlier that a child needs are identified, the quicker they will be able to receive the help and tools they need, to increase their chances of achieving their full potential through independent living and employment.
It is encouraging to see that Peterborough and Cambridgeshire local authorities are deploying a new All Age Autism Strategy for their areas. The strategy will enhance autism services and support available for all ages. It will ensure healthcare staff better understand the needs of autistic people which, in turn, will lead to better identification and treatment. If the implementation of this strategy is a success, then it could assist many more facing similar difficulties across the country.
A new report has highlighted how autistic people in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough have struggled to get diagnosed and find the right services and support.