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Children with regressive autism can miss out on a diagnosis because telltale symptoms appear later.

That’s the view of autism researcher Dr Paul Whiteley.

Children with regressive autism can miss out on a diagnosis because telltale symptoms appear later. That’s the view of autism researcher Dr Paul Whiteley.

Dr Paul Whiteley says some children with regressive autism miss out on a diagnosis

He made the comments following research from charity Ambitious about Autism. The study found that found parents face lengthy waits for a diagnosis for their child.

Wait of 18 months or longer

The findings show nearly half (46 per cent) of parents wait 18 months or longer for medics to formally diagnose their child.

In an email, Whiteley, of Sunderland-based autism research group ESPA Research, wrote that “for some children autism does not seemingly manifest during the earliest years”.

He added: “When it comes to early screening, those late appearers are probably not going to register as autistic until their symptoms start to manifest more significantly.

“And because they don’t appear as autistic, some of them will probably be categorised as ‘missed’.”

‘Lack of evidence’

Parent Helen Harland, from Kent, spent two years waiting for a diagnosis for her son Evan, now four.

Harland told The Independent that he was not referred for an assessment until he was two and this was then rejected over a “lack of evidence”.

She said: “It overtakes your life just trying to get that support. You shouldn’t really have to be fighting for it.”

Not offered adequate support

The Ambitious about Autism research found that more than 70 per cent of parents said they weren’t offered adequate support even after receiving a diagnosis.

Jolanta Lasota, the charity’s chief executive, said parents felt “isolated and helpless”.

The charity has launched an online toolkit to help parents navigate their autism journey in the early years.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said increasing help for those with autism is one of the top priorities in the NHS long-term plan.

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Published: 28 January 2020

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