We are in danger of denying high standard education to children with autism, said Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham today during a Westminster Hall debate on waiting times for an autism diagnosis.
In Stockton, the average waiting time for a diagnostic assessment for a child is 3 years according to anecdotal evidence, despite the NICE guidelines recommending no more than three months.
This can mean that children with autism are unable to access an education health care plan which would enable them to get the support that they need. Without it, children with autism can fall behind, they can miss key developmental milestones, and never reach their full potential.
Speaking in the Westminster Hall debate, Alex said:
“High quality and appropriate early year’s education is critical for all children and I’m sure we’re all aware how important these years are in the development and future opportunities that a child will have.
“Yet we are in danger of denying this high quality and appropriate education to one of my young constituents called Thomas and many children like him.
“Thomas can’t wait three years to wait for a diagnosis but the system to get him one is so broken, I fear he may have no option.
“These are the most formative years of his life, and receiving the support he needs has been hindered by that delayed diagnosis.”
The Government responded to the comments made by Members of the Parliament raising concerns about the lack of a standard waiting time by acknowledging that the Government needs to do better in this area and that they will work with the All Party Parliamentary Group on Autism to deliver on this. They also committed to properly publishing waiting times data from 2019.
For further information, please contact Alex’s office on 020 7219 7157