Research shows that early diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) leading to early interventions and treatment can have major long-term positive effects on symptoms and later skills.
However, delays in public assessment mean many children wait for months or even years for a diagnosis, with some parents resorting to the High Court to have their children assessed.
ASD is a group of life-long neurodevelopmental conditions that are estimated to affect between 1% and 1.5% of the population. This higher estimate equates to over 14,000 pupils with ASD in the Irish school system.
The Disability Act 2005 states that the HSE should commence an assessment within three months and it is to be completed without undue delay. But in Cork city, for example, the waiting times for an ASD assessment ranged from 11 to 36 months in 2018.
The HSE stated earlier this year that “in some instances families source private assessments which may facilitate access to educational supports such as special schools or classes”. These private assessments are often “unidisciplinary assessments”, according to the HSE, in contrast to their “multidisciplinary approach to assessment” which they say is “in line with best practice”.
HELP US INVESTIGATE
We want to find out just how bad the problem is and what is causing the long waiting lists and delays for public ASD assessment.
We want to investigate what impact these delays are having on children and families around the country.
We want to find out whether these waiting lists are fuelling a private industry as well as inequality when it comes to support provided by schools and the State.
Have you any information that you think would help this investigation, contact us at [email protected]
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