Jeremy Hunt, MP and Secretary of State for Health There is a creeping, insidious problem oozing it’s way through the NHS. It is the failure to diagnose autism spectrum condition in people with autism. The new claim is “some traits of autism but not enough for a diagnosis”. Parents are being told that if their child is coping at school then they don’t need a label, schools are reporting that the child doesn’t show any obvious signs and this prevents a diagnosis being forthcoming. Adults are brushed off without a diagnosis because they have managed to learn how to fit in – they still of course have autism/Asperger’s, but they are prevented from getting recognition of their difficulties and accessing support they need. I believe there is a secret directive to avoid diagnosing as many people as possible, or only to diagnose the most obvious cases, to avoid a drain on NHS and other state resources*. This is of course ridiculous and unfair. Not all people with diagnoses, or their parents, claim benefits or support – but if people need it, it should be there for them. Autism is a condition the difficulties of which fluctuate according to the environment, and also presents differently in certain environments – such as a clinical one, so what appears one way in a given situation, may not be the full picture.
In December 2014 I became aware of this, which really goes to confirm my suspicions: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2653518/32billion-bill-autism-Britain-costliest-condition-Total-cost-treatment-care-support-heart-disease-cancer-strokes-combined.html
Yes, the NHS is cash-strapped, and yes there are many competing demands – so the Government has to ruddy well put more money in to cover the demand. Autism is not going away, it’s likely an epigenetic condition and the population in general is rising, so there are more cases of autism. Failure to diagnose is short-sighted, because without support people end up with a whole raft of problems which in the longer term can end up causing more of a drain on resources than the one the NHS/state were trying to avoid in the first place! It’s bad enough that the NHS is full of arrogant clinicians, many of whom are not fully versed in autism as a condition, who fail people diagnostically every day, but when you add a furtive intention to deliberately fail to diagnose people to save money, the system is entirely broken. Autistic people can, with the right support, contribute to society in all sorts of ways, what about Leading Fulfilling and Rewarding Lives? How can we be able to do that in the first place if the NHS is failing to diagnose people? Read this document, which I came by today (and was eternally grateful for having done so), it’s an absolutely excellent article/paper about those who fail to get diagnosed, are considered “mild” or just having some autistic traits: “Invisible at the End of the Spectrum: Shadows, Residues, ‘BAP’, and the Female Asperger’s Experience” So it’s important that the NHS gets it’s priorities right, trains it’s clinicians adequately, and provides the service so many of us pay for.
Edited 18 months after writing this post, following the discovery that the NAS admits there is a directive not to diagnose autistics: http://www.autism.org.uk/about/diagnosis/criteria-changes.aspx
“In the UK we are aware of situations where clinical professionals have felt under pressure from their employers to under-assess needs in order to ration limited resources.”
Also to add, that is it any surprise there are gross failures towards adults despite the Autism Act? Shockingly, according to the DoH statutory guidance, authorities’ provision of a diagnostic pathway; adhering to the NHS NICE Guidance on assessing adults with autism and triggering of post-diagnostic assessment of needs, only come under the “should” category, which means, despite the Autism Act 2009, nobody will be held to account if they don’t ensure these are in place and working for all relevant adults. So misdiagnosis or missed diagnosis, which are all too common, will keep on happening. What incentive will there be when autism is the most expensive diagnosis to support and bodies are trying to save money?
Thought for the day:
“Each of us is a unique strand in the intricate web of life and here to make a contribution.”
~ Deepak Chopra