Young girl and mother visiting GP We are deeply concerned to hear about proposals from NHS commissioners in south west London to restrict access to autism diagnosis services for children to only those who also have a mental health condition. We believe this would mean many autistic children in the area would struggle to get the diagnosis they need to help understand their condition and unlock the vital support that they and their families require. 

Last Friday, after it was brought to our attention by local families, we wrote to the local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) involved – Kingston, Merton, Richmond, Wandsworth and Sutton – to express our concerns and to offer help and advice. We are waiting for their response, but we hope they will reconsider the proposal and ensure that effective autism diagnosis pathways are put in place across these south west London boroughs.  

Both local and national media have covered the issue and below is the press statement we released on Friday: 

Sarah Lambert, Head of Policy at The National Autistic Society, said: "We are deeply concerned by this proposal to restrict autism assessments to children with accompanying mental health problems. This will leave many local children without access to a diagnosis and unable to access the specialist support they desperately need, which will threaten their long-term prospects and put a greater strain on many already vulnerable families. We believe this goes against Clinical Commissioning Groups' (CCG) legal duty to make sure children in their area can access a diagnosis service.

"An autism diagnosis can be life changing. It can explain years of feeling different and help unlock crucial advice and support. A failure to get that support at the right time can have significant consequences – to school, home life and later on in employment. And the longer someone lives without the right support, the higher – and more expensive – their needs can become.

“The National Autistic Society strongly urge these CCGs in south west London to reconsider their plan and to reassure worried local families that their children will be able to access a timely autism assessment. We are writing to the commissioners to relay our concerns directly and to offer to help them make sure that this vital service is available.

"Being autistic can be challenging at times but we've seen again and again how awareness, understanding and early support can make all the difference."

We will put updates on our website when they are available.