The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) has called for a standardised level of care for autism in the UK and warns that consistency is required across Britain to improve quality of care.
In some parts of the UK children referred to autism specialists wait anything from three months to over a year for assessment and diagnosis. A recent petition by Anna Kennedy OBE, highlighted areas in which improvements needed to be made.
Autism research has shown that early intervention therapy and early diagnosis has enormous benefits in terms of communication and socialisation skills for younger children, aiding the transition for their educational needs.
In an interview with the Guardian which can be read here, Professor of child adolescent psychiatry in the University of Manchester Jonathan Green comments that the standards are currently poor, which result to children not developing to their potential, and having long term detrimental effects on parents and guardians.
He said that key areas of improvement were needed. Prof Green has been one of the leading strategists in implementing a new set of guidelines followed by Nice.
With one in 100 people in the UK now getting an autism diagnosis, standards for diagnosis and treatment should be standardised.
Professor Gillian Lang from Nice said:
“People with autism can find everyday life challenging and confusing, and often have symptoms or aspects of other conditions that go undiagnosed. This quality standard outlines how to deliver the very best care and support for adults and children with the condition.”
Mark Lever, Chief Executive of The National Autistic Society told Autism Daily Newscast
“With the right support at the right time, people with autism can live rewarding and fulfilling lives which is why we campaigned hard to secure this Quality Standard.
“The first step to getting the right support is having timely access to diagnosis so speeding up the process will have a significant impact on the lives of thousands of people with autism in England, many of whom have waited or are waiting, to obtain this critical milestone.
“The Standard recognises that people with autism can also have mental or physical health issues. Professionals need to understand that all of a person’s issues need to be looked at when providing support and so services should rightly be judged on their ability to do just that.
“This Standard will also allow for services to be measured on how they respond and treat challenging behaviour and makes it clear that people with autism should not be prescribed medication to address the core features of the condition.
“People with autism have campaigned long and hard for their needs to be addressed when professionals are designing support and services: measuring progress against this Standard will help to ensure that this happens.”