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Our charity is working in partnership with the Scottish Conservatives to campaign on waiting time targets for autism assessment in Scotland.

We want a three month waiting time target, from referral to first appointment for autism assessment, to be introduced for children and adults.

We know that delays in autism assessment and diagnosis can be extremely traumatic for patients and their families.

One parent, Sarah, told us that it took three years from her son being referred to his assessment – and another year before he was diagnosed.

She felt a huge sense of relief when he was diagnosed, but was also angry that he had been denied support and help for so long.

In partnership with our charity, the Scottish Conservatives have published a plan to improve the provision and availability of autism services in Scotland. The plan calls on Scottish Government to:

  • Introduce a national waiting time target of three months from referral to first appointment for autism assessment.
  • Record, publish and monitor autism diagnosis waiting times in every area.
  • Introduce a national audit looking at the benefits of faster diagnosis.

Nick Ward, Director of the National Autistic Society Scotland, said:

Many autistic people and parents describe receiving their diagnosis as life changing. It can explain why someone has always felt different, help them access vital support and enable them to take control of their lives.

“We know that far too many autistic people have to wait many months, sometimes even years, for a diagnosis because of inadequate and overstretched services where they live. These long waits can often be traumatic for people who are desperate for help and at risk of developing mental health problems.

“We hope all the political parties will support the Scottish Conservatives’ call for a waiting time standard from referral to assessment of autism to be introduced. We believe this is an important step towards ensuring autistic people right across Scotland can access the support they need.”

Scottish Conservative public health and equalities spokesman, Annie Wells MSP, said: “The autism diagnosis process is currently failing patients - the SNP must introduce a three month waiting time target and take direct action to tackling delays in autism diagnosis.

Having worked closely with the National Autistic Society Scotland, it is clear that many youngsters are missing out on vital support in their formative years.

“The SNP must record, publish and monitor autism diagnosis in every health board area, which would give a greater understanding to health professionals. These are all measures already in place in the rest of the UK.

“These delays in diagnosing autism cannot simply be allowed to go on and on; instead we must have a SNP Government focused on tackling this as a key mental health priority.”