Croydon children’s autism report contributes to Healthwatch England briefing
Healthwatch England recognises Healthwatch Croydon’s 2016 report, Autism: The Experience of Children and Young People in Croydon, in its national briefing on the issue.
The report which reviewed research undertaken by Healthwatch organisations across England, raised Croydon resident experiences of using GP services with autistic children, as well as the need for a single point of access.
In the original report, parents said that they have to suffer long waiting times of up to 18 months to get a referral by their doctors, much longer than similar services being provided in neighbouring Lewisham, Bromley and Surrey. Once referred, they have to fight to get their child’s condition recognised, particularly at schools. These delays in access costs the NHS more, as for some, conditions become more serious, and circumstances deteriorate sometimes leading to hospital treatment and unnecessary stress for child and carer.
Even when children are referred, assessments can be too complicated, leaving people incorrectly assessed and feeling insecure. Once assessed, the lack of integration in services between GPs and social services has a massive effect, as services can drop away when a child moves from one provider to another. Gaining access to a social worker can also be difficult, with one family calling 10 times in a day without making contact.
As a result, parents do not feel supported and some struggle under the burden. This lack of support can lead to decline of physical and mental health, with some teenage children self-harming, binge-eating and experimenting with alcohol and drugs.