Free autism assessments offered to Peterborough and Cambridgeshire families
A charity has revealed plans to offer fully-funded autism assessments to children who are often forced to spend years on a waiting list, including those in Peterborough and Cambridgeshire.
Caudwell Children has announced that it has received funding to provide multi-disciplinary autism assessments, diagnostic feedback and 12 months of post-diagnostic support to eligible children from across the UK.
The children’s charity, which launched a new autism service in 2019 to help reduce NHS waiting times, has a dedicated clinical team delivering child-centred autism assessments at its purpose-built centre based on the campus of Keele University in Staffordshire.
Latest Department of Health and Social Care figures show that only one in seven people with suspected autism receives any care contact within 13 weeks of referral – with many waiting up to two years to be assessed.
Children across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough often face typical waiting times of three years or more, it was recently revealed.
Earlier this week Healthwatch Peterborough and Healthwatch Cambridgeshire published a report, ’Autistic Voices’, highlighting the health and care experiences of autistic people from the area.
The report makes a series of recommendations to help reduce the time people often have to wait before they are referred for an autism assessment.
Caudwell Children’s chief executive Trudi Beswick said: “Waiting times for autism assessments are all too often unacceptably long, with parents regularly waiting years for a diagnosis.
“We launched the Caudwell Children Autism Service to support our stretched statutory services and reduce waiting times to evidence that there is a quicker, more efficient and effective way to support families through this important process.
“Thanks to funding from several donors over the last six months we are now delighted to be able to offer our assessment, diagnosis and support service to new referrals at zero cost for a limited time and we welcome referrals from families from right across the United Kingdom as we know it is a nationwide issue.”
Assessments at Caudwell Children are available for children aged between four and 11 years old and require a referral from a health professional, teacher or social care worker.
All assessments will take place over two days, with one day at the Caudwell International Children’s Centre in Staffordshire, the UK’s first independent purpose-built centre dedicated to the assessment, support and research of autism.
Following assessment, children diagnosed as autistic also receive 12 months of post-diagnostic support – this includes emotional and practical help for children and their families.
Funding is available for new referrals from families with a household income of £45,000 per year or less, not including benefits.
For more information, visit www.caudwellchildren.com/autism or call 0845 300 1348.