As the mother of a child on the autistic spectrum, I feel very well supported and have a wealth of information at my fingertips.
I am aware though that I have been extremely lucky at finding support and like-minded people who I can chat to. This isn’t the case for many parents. Many children are still waiting too long for an autism diagnosis and therefore as a consequence, far too long for the relevant support that they need to be put in place.
Early diagnosis is vital in helping our children, and GPs who are aware about autism can help to start this early diagnosis process. They are often the first port of call. Tracking of the NHS waiting times for autism diagnosis would also be useful. Anna Kennedy OBE highlighted with her online survey of parents of autistic children, Autism Diagnosis Survey, just how long children had to wait for a diagnosis. It was found that the average waiting time for gaining an initial diagnosis in children was 5 years.
Help though is also needed throughout the whole life cycle, and I think that this too is often forgot and overlooked.
A recent tweet by the National Autistic Society (NAS) stated that, ‘Just 15% of adults w/ #autism are in full-time employment, often due to lack of support & awareness of autism in the workplace.’ I find this extremely frightening.
The NAS Lancaster and Morecambe branch are hoping to set up a support group for adults with autism. Their recent newsletter stated:
‘We are still having meetings with various people to get some advice on setting up a group for our adult members. Our aim is to trial this group in September and it will be for adults with a diagnosis of autism, in the process of getting a diagnosis or wanting some advice on how to get a diagnosis.’
This is most definitely the way forward, support, diagnosis and interventions should be made available from childhood all the way up to adulthood. Sadly though, it is a well known fact that there are very few support services for adults with autism. I wish the NAS Lancaster and Morecambe branch the very best in luck is setting this adult support group up.