It was reported last year that families in Norfolk were waiting up to two years to be fully assessed and investigation by Healthwatch Norfolk has highlighted further frustration at the poor level of service many families feel they have received.
The report identifies the need for better communication with families, particularly in helping them to understand the assessment process as well as highlighting the need for greater autism awareness across all health and care services.
Further suggestions include improvements to current patient waiting areas, greater family involvement in the redesign of future facilities and better wrap around support for the whole family – as there is currently no dedicated ASD service for affected children following diagnosis.
Some 112 families took part in the study and it is estimated there are around 1,700 children in Norfolk affected by the condition.
One parent said: “Nothing has worked well. Every service is flawed and underfunded.”
Another said: “When you actually get to see the clinical psychologists, the quality of the diagnostic service and care is fantastic – knowledgeable people who communicate well with the child and parents. The problem with the assessment process is how long it takes.”
Alex Stewart, chief executive at Healthwatch Norfolk said: “While much of people’s negative experience relates to waiting times and access, in undertaking this study we were continually reminded of the impact this has on the child.