Autistic children and adults are waiting too long for diagnosis. Research indicates that on average, for children the wait is over three and a half years, while adults wait on average two years after seeking professional help. This can mean restrictions to accessing much needed support, leaving people at crisis point.   

On Wednesday 13 September from 9:30am, Parliament will be debating autism diagnosis waiting times and it is crucial a number of MPs attend so the Government knows this is a big issue for people on the autism spectrum. Follow this link to watch the debate online.

To encourage your MP to take part in the debate, share your diagnosis story with them. Follow this link to find out who your MP is and how to email them. A number of MPs are also on Twitter – if you are too, this is another way you can engage with them to attend the debate. Here's the link to find out if your MP is on twitter. Remember to use the #whythewait hashtag. 

Diagnosis can be a critical milestone for people on the autism spectrum. It helps people take control of their lives by helping to unlock barriers to essential support and services, enabling families to better understand their child and providing an explanation for newly diagnosed adults for many years of feeling ‘different’.

As a result of the Autism Act, there is a legal duty for a pathway to diagnosis to be in place for adults in every area of England. However, there is limited accountability on the NHS to take action on the waiting times for diagnosis.

That’s why our charity launched our Autism Diagnosis Crisis campaign. It called on Government and NHS England to take action now to address long waits. Almost 12,000 people signed our letter to the Health Secretary and the Chief Executive of NHS England.

Since we launched our Autism Diagnosis Crisis campaign we have achieved the following:

  • The Government undertook local investigations of good and bad diagnosis practice and shared these findings with local NHS services and local authorities 
  • This led to the development of a working group at the Department of Health, to develop a plan on how data on waiting times could be recorded 
  • The Government has tasked NHS England with reducing health inequality for autistic people
  • A commitment by the NHS to develop a new autism care pathway – we are awaiting further details of what this looks like
  • The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has recommended all GP practices set up registers of which patients are on the autism spectrum.

Autistic children and adults and their families are being left without the right care and support and this debate presents another opportunity to ask the Government to commit to reducing diagnosis waiting times. 

If you are seeking advice on diagnosis for yourself or someone you know, see our page on diagnosis.