Supporting children and families where ASD and ADHD is suspected

Healthwatch Northamptonshire talked to 12 families who had experience of the process of assessment for a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in the previous 12 months.
Volunteer speaking with small child

We also spoke to professionals who are involved in the assessment process or who provide support to families of children with ASD and ADHD. Sixteen interviews were carried out in total. This project aimed to explore families’ experiences of the current ASD/ADHD pathway in Northamptonshire and how effective it is. We also aimed to identify potential improvements and highlight good practice already taking place.

We found that the process of seeking a diagnosis of, and help for, ASD and ADHD often takes so long and is so fragmented that children and their families are struggling. There is often little or no support for the families to address the behavioural problems that lead them to seek professional help or a diagnosis. Delays in assessment can have a significant impact on a child’s wellbeing and educational outcomes.

What people told us for this project also reflect the findings of a national briefing by Healthwatch England

This highlighted

  • the lack of consistency in pathways for diagnosis and support for children with ASD and ADHD
  • professionals not always knowing where to send families for support and guidance
  • in many areas there is no single unified service available to cover autism services.

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Supporting children and families where ASD and ADHD is suspected

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