Despite increased awareness of the condition, getting a formal autism diagnosis remains a challenge for many families, a survey has revealed (17th May 2012).

The survey by the National Autistic Society (NAS) found that nearly two thirds of families found it took more than a year to receive an autism diagnosis after first raising concerns, with 34% saying it took at least 3 years.Unsurprisingly, 55% of respondents said that the process took too long. The survey also found that 1 in 10 respondents paid for a private diagnosis, instead of waiting for an NHS diagnosis. And while paying for diagnosis is decreasing among those looking after children, there has been an increase in the number of adults going private.

Mark Lever, chief executive of the NAS, said: “Getting a diagnosis is a critical milestone that can unlock the door to identifying the right support and, without it, people struggle to access the help they need.“But sadly, our survey has found that accessing a diagnosis is still a significant challenge for many families, leaving them in uncertainty - sometimes for years. The UK and devolved governments must ensure that the NHS follows national guidelines on diagnosis and assessment so that people with autism can access the right support as early as possible. That way, we will make sure that so many more people with autism get to live the life they choose.”