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Waiting times to diagnose autism have increased by one quarter in two years

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommends a maximum of three months to get a diagnosis. 

Public Health England and the National Autistic Society have revealed that people with autism are waiting about 25% longer than they did previously to get a diagnostic appointment for autism.

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Diagnosis is for many the first point at which someone receives real understanding of their own or their son/daughter’s needs. It is a milestone. Some people feel a sense of relief, while for others it is a time of dread. Whatever the reaction felt by individuals, for many the diagnosis of autism is the first step towards receiving appropriate health or social care treatment and for this reason, the diagnosis of autism should not be delayed.

However, it has been found that compared to two years ago, diagnostic appointments are being drastically delayed.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommends a three-month wait for diagnosis is acceptable. The average wait in the services researched was 16 weeks and, while there is variation across the country, in 54% of the services studied all provided a slower service than they previously did. Those waiting for a diagnosis in one service had to wait 125 weeks.

The report highlighted that some services had paid specific attention to this issue and has addressed and formalised the pathway to diagnosis. In these cases, waiting times were consistently lower. Pathway mapping is recommended. Once the path has been identified it can be addressed and a smoother, more efficient journey to diagnosis can then be encouraged. 

Public Health England (2017) Autism Self-Assessment Framework Exercise

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