A survey carried out by the NAS reveals that 65 per cent of parents questioned had to see three or more professionals before getting a firm diagnosis, with an astonishing 40 per cent of parents waiting more than three years to gain a diagnosis and 10 per cent of them waiting 10 years or more.
Without a diagnosis, parents, people with autism and their families feel shut out and disempowered: shut out from the services and support that could really improve their lives in tangible, practical ways.
The frighteningly inadequate support from health professionals is also of great concern, as shown in an NAS report entitled "Opening the Door".
In the report, parents cite a variety of sources, among them friends and the media, as the route by which they first became aware of autistic spectrum conditions.
It was in fact striking that GPs and health visitors were very rarely mentioned.
Early diagnosis and proper assessment are vital to "open the door" to a brighter future for people on the autistic spectrum.
The NAS calls for increased awareness of autistic spectrum conditions among front-line health professionals and the adoption of a number of basic good practice measures.
National Autistic Society
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