A PASSIONATE campaigner joined forces with celebrity singing coaches and a world kick-boxing champion to reveal findings of a groundbreaking autism report in the House of Commons.
Anna Kennedy OBE revealed over half of the 2,000 families who took part in the largest survey of its kind in the UK, had to wait five years or more for a diagnosis.
As founder of the Anna Kennedy Online, a charity which advocates for people affected by autism spectrum conditions, she is calling on the Government to re-evaluate its policies and cut waiting times to ensure early intervention.
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After years spent believing she suffered brain damage at birth, the 52-year-old Scottish singer, Susan Boyle, who shot to fame after appearing on Britain's Got Talent, has recently found out she has Asperger Syndrome.
The Autism Diagnosis Survey, which was presented in front of MPs and academic researchers also showed that of the 76 per cent of families who suspected a child under five may have autism, only 38 per cent were given the diagnosis under five.
“The results of this survey clearly demonstrate that the process in place for diagnosing children and young adults is not fit for purpose and requires immediate improvement,” said Mrs Kennedy who was forced to remortgage her home to set up a school for autistic children when her sons Patrick, now 23, and Angelo, now 20, were turned away from mainstream education.
She spoke at the event alongside World Kick Box Champion Jo Redman who shared her experiences of bullying and late diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome, as well as vocal coaches to the stars, David and Carrie Grant, whose three daughters are on the autism spectrum.
“Parents who manage to negotiate the energy sapping bureaucracy often find that the service provided is disconnected and, in many cases, is of unacceptable quality,” added Mrs Kennedy who was presented an honorary degree from Teesside University in her home town of Middlesbrough this month.
According to the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE), people with possible autism needing a diagnostic assessment by an autism service should have the assessment started within three months of their referral.
Its Quality Standard for Autism draft report written in September, stated: “Once the referral has been accepted it is important that the assessment is conducted as soon as possible so that appropriate health and social care interventions, advice and support can be offered.”