Autism taking two years to diagnose

AUTISTIC children wait up to two years for the condition to be diagnosed, according to a new report which calls for an overhaul of the system.

Australia’s first national autism study has concluded that more than 10,000 children aged six to 12 years have the complex developmental disorder.

It estimated that as many as 125,000 people may have some form of autism, which is characterised by impaired social interaction, communication, and stilted behaviour.

This means the syndrome impacts on half a million Australians.
“The important thing was to get an accurate sounding, for the first time, on how prevalent the disorder is,” said Mick Clark, spokesman for the Australian Advisory Board on Autism Spectrum Disorders, which commissioned the research.

“The report reveals that in some parts of Australia, diagnosis and intervention can take up to two years – this is far too long.”

The three-year study called for a national protocol of no more than three months waiting time for a diagnosis and assessment by specially-funded, multi-disciplinary teams.

It also said no family should wait more than three months between diagnosis and early intervention.

“We should act promptly as a community to tackle autism after diagnosis, to give those who have an autism spectrum disorder the best chance in life,” Mr Clark said.

The report also provides a snapshot of what services are available nationally, and where strengths and weaknesses lie in diagnosis and intervention.

The author, Perth pediatrician Dr John Wray, called for more efficient data collection on autism to aid much-needed research into causes and most effective treatments.

The board will seek discussions with state and federal governments after the report is presented at a national autism conference on March 15.

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