Photo: Rick Furness, a Green Party campaigner

Autism Assessments Are Failing Too Many Children Across Sefton – Please Sign Our Petition

‘When comparing to clinical guidelines, and accepting that early intervention is critical to improving the life chances of a child with autism,’ Rick Furness, a Green Party campaigner in Southport claims ‘the assessment pathway used across Sefton is completely inadequate.’  As such, Rick has started a petition, and would like as many people living within Southport and Sefton to sign.

Under the Children and Families Act 2014, members of the government state ‘Special educational needs and disabilities will be picked up at the earliest point with support routinely put in place quickly’, (SEND code of practice, January 2015).  Yet following a recent Freedom of Information (FOI) request, the Green Party now have evidence that shows ‘the reality in Southport is certainly not living up to these claims.’

As a parent of a child on the Autism Assessment Pathway in Southport, and another with a diagnosis of autism, Rick says ‘It quickly becomes clear that this process is inefficient, not fit for purpose, and very much based on an ad hoc, undefined approach. Across Sefton, it is well known that it takes an average of 4 years to diagnose a school aged child with autism from the time of referral. Every step on the pathway, requires separate referrals, and it has been evidenced that overall, the waiting times for each appointment, are massively outside clinical guidelines.’

Having experienced the autism assessment pathway, Rick claims ‘The results of such delays can be catastrophic for everyone involved.  The child who doesn’t understand their own difficulties for example, and who is left untreated; the family who desperately need help to support their child and maintain equilibrium in the home; and interestingly, with the current system being so inefficient and time consuming, the financial implications and waste of public funds must be severe!

Sefton Green Party are now demanding that changes be put in place immediately, to radically improve local assessments for autism.  ‘Put simply, this MUST change with immediate effect, and Sefton’s Autism Pathway brought in line with clinical guidelines at least. Simple, clearly defined steps, coming from a single referral for assessment, must be identified and put into practice. It is obvious to say, that decisions must now be made, that prioritise the health and wellbeing of children and families across Sefton. However, a clearer, unified pathway, would also bring the additional benefit, of a more cost effective approach that protects public funds.’

Rick is appealing to people across Southport and the rest of Sefton, to please support this campaign and to sign his petition at the link below.


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