Over £1.5million has been made available to local NHS organisations to help reduce the number of people waiting for a neurodevelopmental assessment for conditions including autism.

There are currently around 3,500 people living in Dorset waiting for an autism assessment, sometimes waiting as long as two years to see a clinician.

An autism assessment can help people to understand their needs and enable them to understand what support they need to help them.

The additional funding should support faster assessments of at least 1,000 people currently on the waiting lists around Dorset.

Assessments usually take place following a GP or school referral with a small team of specialists who will:

  • ask about the individual’s strengths and difficulties
  • assess differences and difficulties with social communication
  • speak to people who know them well, such as family, friends, GP to gather information on their early development.

Information is also gathered from school or nursery for children and young people.

People waiting for an assessment will be contacted by their NHS provider as soon as an appointment becomes available.

David Freeman is Chief Commissioning Officer and Deputy Chief Executive Officer with NHS Dorset Integrated Care Board (ICB).

He said “Nationally the demand for autism assessments has risen dramatically over the past 20 years, however investment in autism assessment capacity has not kept pace with this growth. We recognise that in Dorset some people are facing a very long wait for an assessment which can be hard, not just for themselves but also their parents, teachers and other family members who may be looking for additional support.

“We are therefore delighted that this additional funding has been made available from NHS England which will allow local healthcare organisations to make use of external assessors who are able to complete NICE compliant assessments, in order to reduce waiting times.”

“I would personally like to thank everyone involved for their patience and reassure them we are doing everything we can to reduce waiting times in the county.”

For more information on autism visit www.nhs.uk/conditions/autism/.

If you have questions about autism, please contact your usual clinician.