Autistic Spectrum Conditions: access to support in Bradford and District
Today we published our report about people's experiences of support for Autistic Spectrum Conditions in Bradford and District
Findings suggest that:
- People who think they may be autistic continue to face long waits for diagnosis.
- Accessing support for autism can be difficult – most support requires a formal diagnosis, but even with this, people find they do not get as much as they need.
- It is hard to find information about diagnosis and support in Bradford and District, and a lack of awareness about the communication needs of autistic people across services makes this more difficult.
Our report published in 2017 'Autistic Spectrum Conditions: What We’ve Heard So Far' highlighted the long waiting times that people across Bradford face in order to get a diagnosis. We have continued to speak with local people to better understand what support is available in Bradford and this week publish our latest report.
From conversations and stories of lived experiences, we have heard:
- Specialist support for autism is important as it helps people to socialise and learn new skills. People struggle to access it and as a result are referred to non-specialist services that do not understand their needs.
- There is a lack of awareness among professionals within the NHS, social workers and those carrying out assessments for benefits or other support. This means that autistic people struggle to access wider services.
- There is limited information available about diagnosis and support for autism, and a lack of understanding about how autism affects people’s communication needs can make it hard for them to get help.
The combination of these challenges leave people upset and frustrated, unable to access healthcare, and can have a devastating effect on their mental health.
We are calling for more attention to be paid to the needs of autistic people. Greater awareness and understanding of autism is needed to ensure that people can live well and access the services to which they are entitled. Support should be made available to people who are waiting for a formal diagnosis and information about diagnosis and support should be accessible to autistic people.
Sarah Hutchinson, Healthwatch Manager said:
“We are disappointed that autistic people in Bradford continue to struggle to get the help they need – and are entitled to. We hope that this report will lead to action – we know that work is already happening to try to reopen the diagnosis service (BANDS), and we hope that the backlog is addressed as a matter of urgency.
But giving people a diagnosis is not enough. People need to be able to access the support that they need to live well and stay healthy and independent. We are calling for better training of staff who work with autistic people, and improved information for autistic people and their families. The delays to diagnosis have highlighted how important it is for people to be able to access support as soon as they need it, and support should be made available to people waiting for a diagnosis.”
The findings of this report including recommendations have been shared with service providers and was presented to Bradford Council’s Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Thursday September 6th 2018.