Late diagnosis causing 'struggle' for children with autism

Children with autism are facing delays in access to specialist care because they are not being diagnosed early enough, experts have said.

Researchers from Newcastle University said the age of diagnosis has not decreased in a decade – still averaging four-and-a-half years.

Researchers analysed data concerning 2,100 children between 2004 and 2014 for the study which was published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

Jon Spiers, chief executive of Autistica, the autism research charity that funded the study said ways to speed up diagnosis were needed, especially for “those left isolated for too long, such as girls with autism”.

There’s a growing body of evidence showing that early intervention can improve social and communication skills in children with autism spectrum disorder.

Many children receive a diagnosis later than they could have done, this means that they and their parents have to struggle on longer than necessary without suitable support or understanding of their child’s difficulties.

– Lead author, Dr Jeremy Parr, clinical senior lecturer at Newcastle University

A separate report published by the National Autistic Society, includes a survey of more than 7,000 people with autism, their family members, friends and professionals.

The findings, released ahead of World Autism Awareness Day on Saturday, show:

The National Autistic Society is calling on the public to find out more about autism so they can respond to autistic people with more understanding.

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