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Giving you a voice on health and social care

Healthwatch Bradford and District Raises Awareness of People’s Experiences of Autism


Diagnosis of autism spectrum conditions (ASC) has risen 25-fold in the last 30 years and 500,000 people in England are estimated to have autism, contributing to greater public understanding. Despite rising awareness, many families continue to face problems with diagnosis, assessment and support for children and young people with autism. The experiences of more than 1,000 people across the country have contributed to a national report exploring how things can be improved. 

Work undertaken by Healthwatch Bradford and District has helped to inform the briefing, published today as part of World Autism Awareness Week .

Children and Young People with Autism: Findings from the Healthwatch Network, brings together findings by 33 local Healthwatch branches across the country.  People told them about a range of issues, including:

  • Some GP surgeries and schools find it difficult to spot the signs of autism consistently.
  • Parent carers felt that doctors did not listen to them when they said their child was experiencing problems.
  • Long waiting times for young people to get an appointment for a diagnosis assessment
  • Families said they don’t know where to seek help in a crisis.

Locally, Healthwatch Bradford and District identified a number of additional challenges, which included:

  • No clear pathway to diagnosis of ASC for either children or adults.
  • Insufficient support available for people with ASC in the area, especially if they don’t also have a learning disability or mental ill health.
  • Difficulties in transitioning from children’s services to adults’.  

Over the last few months, Healthwatch Bradford and District has worked closely with local partners to help drive improvements. For example, Healthwatch raised concerns that people were struggling to get a diagnosis assessment which would help them get the support they needed. In response local healthcare commissioners have increased funding by 45% for the local neurodevelopment service to tackle the current backlog of people waiting for diagnosis.

Healthwatch Bradford and District’s Manager, Victoria Simmons said:

“Healthwatch heard stories from people across the district about how autistic spectrum conditions affected their lives, and how important it is to get a timely diagnosis and a support package that works around an individual’s needs.

“The case studies in our report highlight the impact that autism can have on individuals and families; Healthwatch will continue to listen to those affected and ensure their voices are heard. We’re working closely with local partners to keep the pressure up to improve both diagnosis and support for people across the Bradford District.”

Read our report to find out more about what people across the Bradford district told us.


Healthwatch network's findings on autism

Our report on autism spectrum conditions


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