Mum’s despair at diagnosis wait

A CLEVEDON mum who spent five years battling to have her autistic son officially diagnosed with the condition is supporting a national campaign to raise awareness of the issue.

Angela Pass first raised concerns about the development of Joe when he was just two years old. However, it then took her more than five years to secure a diagnosis to give her family access to the help they needed.

According to a survey recently carried out by The National Autistic Society, despite increased awareness of autism, which can cause people to experience difficulties with social communication, interaction and imagination, the struggle to get a diagnosis is not uncommon.

Out of almost 3,000 people surveyed, 34 per cent said they had to wait three year or more years for a diagnosis after first raising concerns and a further 30 per cent had to wait one to two years.

Such a wait can have a huge impact on the help and support given to a person with autism.


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Angela, aged 37 of Stickland, said: “I suspected Joe wasn’t developing like other children when he was two. While other kids his age were playing with each other and starting to talk, Joe would just throw toy balls at people and wouldn’t speak.

“I raised concerns with the health visitor and his nursery and between us we arranged language therapy for him, but no one could explain his behaviour. We were helpless.”

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When Joe was five, a speech and language therapist said they suspected he may have semantic pragmatic disorder, which is associated with autism.

Despite Angela taking Joe to a GP, getting a diagnosis was not straightforward.

The mum-of-two added: “A few months later I happened to see a locum doctor and she was great. I explained my concerns to her and she said she would make a referral.

“It then took six months for anything to happen but it was such a relief to get an assessment.

“When they said Joe had autism, I cried. It had taken so long.

“The diagnosis means we could explain his behaviour. I can explain that he isn’t a horrible or naughty child.”

Joe, now aged 10 and a pupil at Yeo Moor Primary School, still struggles with anger and making friends but has a group of friends who accept him for who he is.

Following the survey, the NAS is now calling on the UK governments to ensure the NHS follows the national guidelines on diagnosis and assessment so that people with autism can access the right support as early as possible.

NAS chief executive Mark Lever said: “Getting a diagnosis is a critical milestone that can unlock the door to identifying the right support and, without it, people struggle to access the help they need.”

* For more details about the NAS visit www.autism.org.uk

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