Child of the North 2024 Campaign – Report 1
A country that works for all children and young people
An evidence-based plan for addressing the autism assessment and support crisis
The first report in a year-long series – produced jointly by Child of the North and the Centre for Young Lives – that seeks to deliver a country that works for all children and young people, sets out a new plan to support autistic children.
An evidence-based plan for addressing the autism assessment and support crisis reveals a crisis in children’s autism assessment, warning that thousands of autistic children and young people are waiting months – or even years – for health and education support.
The report sets out a number of key recommendations for tackling the autism assessment crisis, calling for a ‘needs-led’ approach instead of relying on a ‘diagnosis-led’ system, where early identification becomes the norm and faster effective support is offered without relying on a diagnosis.
The report warns that the failure to provide the right autism support can lead to poor long-term outcomes for autistic children, including an increased prevalence of connected conditions such as mental ill health and a greater risk of school exclusion or not attending school.
Professor Mark Mon-Williams, Chair in Cognitive Psychology at the University of Leeds, said:
“Autistic children and their families are being failed by systems that are not fit for purpose. This report provides hope with its evidence-based recommendations for how the system can be changed to build a better UK for children and young people. We now have a roadmap and we need to act at pace to ensure these recommendations are implemented.”
Anne Longfield, Executive Chair of the Centre for Young Lives, said:
“The number of autistic children seeking support is at a record high and the number waiting for an assessment has rocketed since Covid. The autism assessment crisis is leaving thousands of children without the support they need and parents having to battle their way through a nightmare process that can take years to resolve.
“The evidence shows the need to move to a system of support that responds to the needs of autistic children, rather than waiting for diagnosis before any help appears. The education sector and health services should be working together, sharing data and information, and building local partnerships that can transform the support autistic children receive.”
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Stephen Parkinson, Research Partnership Manager
Previous reports can be found archived on our Child of the North Reports page.