Autism services in Norfolk under scrutiny

Children in Norfolk are still not being diagnosed with autism early enough, a meeting will hear next week.

The Norfolk Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee, which is made up of county and district councillors, will consider two reports about children's autism services in the county, one from NHS Norfolk and one from regional charity Autism Anglia.

The charity conducted an online survey which was sent to 122 people and to which 43 responded, with almost two thirds saying their child was diagnosed over the age of four. The NHS says that autism can normally be diagnosed in children around the age of two.

The report says: 'This was mainly due to the fact that the person they first approached with their concerns did not believe them or take them seriously enough to refer on.

'While early diagnosis is improving in Norfolk, there remains many children who have not been diagnosed before staring school and currently attend school without a clear identification of their needs and without appropriate support in place.'

The charity also said parents were finding it difficult to access help and support once their children had been diagnosed.

The committee tackled the subject of autism services last year, receiving a report about healthcare provision for adults with autism in October. During the discussions at this meeting, issues regarding services for children with autism were raised, particularly around diagnosis of the condition, and as a result the committee agreed to invite NHS Norfolk and Children's Services to report on the autism services they provide for children.

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Representatives from Children's Services, NHS Norfolk and Autism Anglia will attend the meeting at County Hall on Thursday, March 3, and members of the committee will have the chance to question them about the issues raised in their reports.

Members of the public are welcome to attend.