A Newcastle-under-Lyme based charity has been inundated with applications for funded autism assessments from families across the UK – but has only received a handful of referrals from local families.
Last month Caudwell Children confirmed it has secured funding to offer fully-funded autism assessments to eligible children that often face up to 18 months stuck on a waiting list.
Since then the charity, which has a state-of-the-art centre on the campus of Keele University, has received an influx of applications from parents in areas as far apart as North Devon, Inverness and Cambridgeshire.
However, the charity has only received a handful of referrals on behalf of children based in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire.
Today the charity is urging parents whose children are waiting for an autism assessment to ask an education, health or social care professional who knows their child to make a referral to Caudwell Children’s autism service.
Paul McIlroy, Caudwell Children’s Associate Director of Clinical Services, said:
“The phone has not stopped ringing since we announced that we’re offering fully-funded autism assessments, but we’ve been surprised by how few of those referrals have come from families who live nearby.
“We know that local children often wait 18 months, or longer, to get an autism assessment, and we’ve been working in partnerships with the NHS to reduce waiting times in South Staffordshire since our autism service opened a couple of years ago.
“We want to reduce waiting times further by offering families an assessment within three months of the completion of a financial assessment.
“If you, or someone you know, is struggling to get an autism assessment for their child then please tell them about Caudwell Children.”
Following the charity’s fundraising efforts during the pandemic, limited funding is available for new referrals for an autism assessment on behalf of families with a household income of £45,000 per year or less, not including benefits.
Caudwell Children’s autism assessments are offered to children aged between four and 11 years old and require a referral from a health professional, teacher or social care worker.
All assessments take place over two days, with one day at the award-winning Caudwell International Children’s Centre, the UK’s first independent purpose-built centre dedicated to the assessment, support and research of autism.
The centre, which is based on Keele University’s Science and Innovation Park, opened in 2019 and since then has offered assessments and feedback within 28 days to hundreds of children – many of whom live in Staffordshire.
Following assessment, children diagnosed as autistic also receive 12 months of post-diagnostic support, plus emotional and practical help for them and their families.
Caudwell Children’s autism service is regulated by the Care Quality Commission. The service received a glowing review and ‘Good’ rating following its first inspection and has continued to support children and families throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
To find out if Caudwell Children could help you, visit www.caudwellchildren.com/services/autism or call 0845 300 1348.