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Autism assessments 'taking too long'

Autism assessments 'taking too long'
From BBC - January 23, 2018

Children in parts of Wales are waiting an average of two years for an autism assessment despite a target of six months, figures have shown.

Research by BBC Wales' Wales Live programme has revealed staffing issues have also impacted on waiting times.

One mother said it took five years and 6,000 to get her son an assessment and his diagnosis recognised.

The Welsh Government said the roll-out of a national integrated autism plan was continuing.

A spokesman said there were also plans to issue statutory guidance to councils and health boards requiring them to plan and deliver effective autism services.

The Welsh Government has set a target of 26 weeks from referral to diagnosis.

But a freedom of information request to local health boards revealed the average wait is 107 weeks and six days in Hywel Dda area, which covers Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire.

And it takes an average of 39 weeks in parts of Betsi Cadwaladr area, which covers north Wales, for a child to be seen.

It has said that historic vacancies within the neurodevelopmental teams have impacted on the ability to deliver the service.

'Finding out what was wrong with our son'

Clare Norton, from Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire, said her son, Ethan, was first referred for an autism assessment in 2012, when he was four.

But, after a five-year wait, she eventually paid around 2,000 for a private assessment.

He was diagnosed with a specific form of autism called PDA - pathological demand avoidance.

But Ms Norton said she then had to fight to get the diagnosis accepted by the local authority and health board because PDA was not universally recognised.

"It's on the autism spectrum although it's a postcode lottery in the UK as to which local authority or health board will accept it," she said.

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