NAS: “Our response to autism assessment criteria changes in some areas”

Some NHS trusts or services appear to have announced changes to the criteria for an autism assessment referral.

Tim Nicholls, Head of Influencing and Research at the National Autistic Society, said: “We are incredibly concerned about anything that makes it harder to get an autism assessment. Changing the criteria for referral will not make the problem of long waits disappear – it just increases uncertainty and stress for autistic people and their families. Only funding a system with enough capacity to carry out high quality assessments will do that.

“We’re worried that these isolated instances could be a sign of what’s to come.

“Getting an autism diagnosis can be life-changing and is vital to getting the right help and support, but many autistic children, young people and adults wait months or even years for an assessment. NHS data shows there are more than 140,000 autistic people currently waiting for an assessment, an increase by 40% in just one year, – this is unacceptable.

“There is currently a postcode lottery for services, and poorly commissioned pathways for autism assessments which makes it even harder to get the early support that makes such difference.

“Without significant, long-term funding for diagnosis services across the country, many autistic people will continue to face traumatic long waits for an assessment. As a result, many will be left struggling without the right support at school, work and home. The Government must urgently invest in diagnosis services, as set out in the national autism strategy for England, and make sure that autistic children, young people, adults and their families get the support they need.”

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