‘I paid £500 to get a private diagnosis of Austism Spectrum Disorder for daughter’

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A Derry mum has told the ‘Journal’ how her 12 years-old daughter has been unable to attend school since September 2014 because she has been living with undiagnosed ASD.

The woman who asked not to be named to protect her daughter’s identity told the ‘Journal’ she felt she had no choice but to fork out in excess of £500 to allow her daughter to be assessed at a private clinic where a diagnosis of the condition was confirmed.

The mother says she hopes the diagnosis is now accepted by the Western Trust so she can get her daughter back to school.

“I’ve had my concerns about my daughter and ASD because I have a son who is severely autistic and has a learning disability,” she said.

“So I know the signs. She had been very quiet and withdrawn in school. But then she went into primary seven and the transition began for her starting big school.”

The mother says she was told her daughter was suffering from anxiety.

“She couldn’t go back to school, she was hyperventilating and panicking.”

However the family was told that the 12 year-old did not score high enough to meet a diagnosis for ASD. The mother is now paying privately for a child therapist to come and work with her daughter each week.

“The child therapist has been brilliant,” she said, “and she is the only one that my daughter will engage with.

“She can’t cope with duvets. My daughter has tactile sensory problems. She wears the same clothes and sleeps in them. She refuses to wash.

“She can’t cope with any change to her routine. She hasn’t been to school for more than a year and a half.”

The woman revealed that her daughter was offered a place at a local secondary school but lost the place because she was unable to go into the school.

“I need something to happen to get her back at school and interacting with her peers.

“It’s very difficult to sit and watch a child regress. I’m tired of fighting all the time. She just wants to be like everyone else and keeps asking, ‘why am I different?’

“I feel parents are not listened to. They just think I’m a mammy throwing a hissy fit. Early intervention is crucial. Getting this diagnosis won’t fix everything, I know that, but something has to be done. They need to change how they diagnose girls.”

The woman revealed she had left the report with the diagnosis which she paid for privately, with the Trust last week, but as yet no one has come back to her.

Last night a spokesperson for the Western Health and Social Care Trust (Western Trust) said: “Respecting patient/client confidentiality the Trust does not comment on individual cases.”