Northern Ireland – 1,300 children waiting to be diagnosed with autism

Northern Ireland, UK – The BBC has just learned that Northern Ireland has 1,300 children waiting to be diagnosed with autism. To make matters worse there is only one coordinator across the five health trusts.

In a 2014 a health report released by the department of health, shows that the rate of autism has increased 67% since 2010. There are 500 cases waiting to be assessed in the Belfest Health and Social Care trust. On paper, the wait for assessment and diagnosis is 13 weeks. In reality, many families are waiting up to a year before they are seen. What makes matters worse is that in order for these children to receive education accommodations they need a letter from their health trust.

This is causing many worries for families as their children’s education and overall health suffers because of their lack of proper diagnosis.

One mother, Ann Marie Ferguson from Antrim said Northern Health Trust failed her son Cormac, who had been seen by the trust but is waiting for an appointment with the trusts autism specialist. About a year ago Cormac walked out in front a moving car.

“He had a bad day in school. There had been an outburst and sometimes the school doesn’t know how to react. Leaving the school he walked out in front of the car. Understandably everyone was upset and concerned. It was dreadful,”

To be officially diagnosed it can take several appointments and months to complete, something the trust is finding harder to do since referrals to their autism center has increased 80% in the last four years along with staff vacancies. They are trying their best to correct this.

The original article by on the BBC Northern Ireland News website can be read here