217 children waiting for autism assessment

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Two hundred and seventeen children in the Western Trust are currently waiting longer than the Department of Health’s recommended waiting time to receive an assessment for autism.

The figures were revealed by Teresa Molloy, Director of Performance and Service Improvement at Thursday’s meeting of the Western Trust Board.

The Department standard states that children should have to wait no longer than 13 weeks for an autism assessment following referral.

Kieran Downey, Director of Women & Children’s Services said that delays in assessment for autism were being faced across Northern Ireland and were not just a local problem.

“It would take £3m going forward to fund autism in terms of diagnosis going forward,” he said. “Largely this is about an increase in the number of children being referred across Northern Ireland.”

In March 2015 the number of children waiting more than 13 weeks for an autism assessment in the Western Trust area was 102, compared to December 2015’s figure of 217. As of December 2015 there were ten children waiting longer than the Department of Health’s recommended 13 weeks for treatment following assessment.