"Limited speech therapy for autism"

About: Leicestershire County and Rutland PCT / Speech and language therapy

(as a carer),

I have a 5 year old son diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorder and his difficulties first manifested as language delay, so he was referred to SALT in Leicester. This process took months, in the meantime he was also referred to audiology by GP and paediatrician to assess his overall development.

We were allocated a speech therapist who didn't seem to know much about autism and only saw him twice briefly at his nursery and never at home before writing a report for his multi-agency assessment. We were given limited guidance on how to help our son develop his language - a scruffy photocopied info sheet not aimed at children with developmental difficulties. All of the recommended intervention suggested in info sheet we had been doing for months, and if we had been asked we could have given more detail about language difficulties.

I have faced rudeness when phoning the service at St Phillips House, and people refusing to transfer calls, and I had to keep leaving messages, I was never allowed the speech therapist's mobile phone number, despite other professionals having no issue with this.

My son then moved on to Menphys where I am aware that he has been allocated a speech therapist, but I have never been involved in this, nor has the therapist asked how he is doing at home. His speech development plan was very limited and basic, and never changed.

I just feel that the SALT service is very limited to the point of "why bother?" I'm not sure my son has benefited from such minimal input, and its just very insulting and frustrating. If your therapists lack confidence in autism, then it suggests a clear workforce development need.

Also there needs to be more honesty about what your service can realistically offer. In addition, parents and carers need to be involved in assessment and ongoing review otherwise there's a big chunk of corroborative data missing from assessment. Also make the service more easily accessible and user-friendly.

I wouldn't recommend it to anyone in the current state - and quite frankly I felt very let down by the whole experience.

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