Almost 15,000 waiting for autism assessment

During Autism Acceptance Week, DUP Assembly Member Diane Dodds has uncovered that almost 15,000 people in Northern Ireland are currently awaiting assessment for autism. The Upper Bann DUP MLA said:

By Diane Dodds MLA

Upper Bann

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“A response back from the Health Minister confirms that there are over 11,000 children awaiting initial assessment for autism, with waits extending up to four and a half years. More than 3,000 adults are also awaiting assessment with over 62% having already waited more than a year.

It is unacceptable that individuals and their families are having to wait as long as they currently do, with all the uncertainty that causes. It is only when diagnosis is confirmed that individuals can take the next steps and begin to access support.

I await with interest the statistics from the Minister for individual Trusts to see if the picture varies across different parts of Northern Ireland. Officials cannot claim that they have been caught by surprise that demand for these services has been increasing.

It is essential that a Lead for Adult Autism provision in Northern Ireland is appointed without further delay. This is not an optional area for investment. There are legislative requirements on the Department with the Assembly having passed autism legislation in both 2011 and 2022.

Much of the Autism Amendment Act 2022 still needs to be implemented including early intervention services, support for adults and a training programme. An Autism Reviewer to provide independent scrutiny as legislated for by the last Assembly also still has to be recruited”.


The question to the Minister and his response can be found here:

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