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Report sparks calls for more awareness, quicker assessments and better understanding of autism in Cambridgeshire

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A new report out today highlights the struggles of autistic people in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough to get diagnosed and find autism services and support.

Autistic Voices has been published by independent health and care champions Healthwatch Cambridgeshire and Healthwatch Peterborough.

The report is now being shared with local authorities and health commissioners to help shape a new All Age Autism Strategy for our area.

Janet Dullaghan. (47076316)
Janet Dullaghan. (47076316)

Janet Dullaghan, county lead for autism strategy, called the report “a really good, comprehensive piece of work.”

And said that the areas highlighted and the report’s recommendations will be incorporated into the new Autism Strategy.

The report reveals: Some of the challenges and long journeys that autistic people have faced to get

diagnosed and find support – highlighting very lengthy waits for assessments of three to five years.

One person said it had taken a decade to get their diagnosis because of the many barriers to getting help.

The report also underlines the difficulties autistic people experienced in getting reasonable adjustments to help them stay in work and access health care.

How people have felt dismissed, excluded and misunderstood – with some suffering in silence for years.

“There has been absolutely no support whatsoever.”

“I have been in and out of therapy for more than half of my life and I am still trying to find somebody who not only has an understanding of autism, but also knows how autism can affect your mental health, your daily life.”

“My child has been described as ‘low functioning’ as they are non-speaking, but he is still working at GCSE level in some subjects. It is a very disparaging way to describe a human being.”

“In an ideal world, I would like to get rid of the stigma (around autism).”

Healthwatch is recommending:

 Easier access to the diagnostic service

 Shorter waiting times for assessments and diagnosis

 More awareness of female autism

 Making sure healthcare staff better understand the needs of autistic people

 Better identification and treatment for autistic people’s mental health problems

 More support after diagnosis to give autistic people help with education, training, work, benefits and independent living

 Clear and up to date information on autism, local services and support – in digital and offline formats.

Read the full report here: https://www.healthwatchcambridgeshire.co.uk/news/2021-05-


Share your experiences of autism services too

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Or call Healthwatch on 0330 355 1285.

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