"Autistic spectrum disorder support at the Boat House "

About: North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare NHS Trust / Child and adolescent mental health

(as the patient),

I have been to the boat house many times and yet they still never surprise me.

My child did not meet the criteria for asd although plenty others say that they do. But I get no support at all. My child struggles at school social and education yet still no support.

What I find really hard to accept is you blame lack of funding as to why you can't support families who do not meet your criteria or are diagnosed out of area. But I'm led to believe that some children's parents who have done your asd course are doing a "refresher" course.

I don't mean to be rude but why is that money being wasted there. Maybe you could channel it some where else like shortening waiting times as I'm led to believe is now over the waiting criteria or maybe giving a seat on that course to a parent who isn't "eligible" for your support

I feels to me that you are judging me as a parent and that is wrong. Every child is different and unique yet I and I think so many parents struggle due to your criteria. It's not fair that this is allowed to happen. I think an assessment should be opened with a blank sheet.

Each child should be given that support along with the family. I feel that you have discriminated my child due to your impressions of me as a parent instead of looking at the whole picture.

Now I'm left to struggle not knowing which way to turn. I'm trying my best as a mum to meet my child's needs. I feel you are failing my child with your biased and prejudged opinions of me

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Response from North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare NHS Trust

I am sorry to hear about your concerns in relation to your experience of our services. Everyone in the team is experienced working with children, young people and their families and has worked in the NHS for a significant period of time. Practitioners are from a range of professional backgrounds (Nursing, Speech and Language Therapy and Clinical Psychology) and are all registered with professional bodies. We work hard to ensure that high standards of patient care are adhered to. If there are concerns that staff members have behaved in a way that does not reflect appropriate professional standards then we would want families to let us know what the incident is so that we can investigate this.

2. The criteria that are used to assess children and young people for an ASD have not been developed by our service. We work within national guidance with respect to whether children and young people meet the criteria for a diagnosis and use assessment approaches that have been developed, researched and recommended, including; Nice guidance Autism: recognition, referral and diagnosis of children and young people on the autism spectrum. All team members are required to keep up to date with their knowledge of Autistic Spectrum Disorders as a part of ongoing professional development.

3. The team offer two different post diagnosis courses to support families after a diagnosis of ASD is made. ASD Wise (for children up to age 8) and ASD Wise UP! (for children aged 8 -18 years). These groups are run typically three times each per year. The two groups are completely separate as they cover different issues that are pertinent at different ages. There are occasions whereby a family who have attended the group for younger children may find it beneficial to attend a group for older children as their child gets older. It is unusual for a parent to attend the same group more than once, though some parents find they are unable to attend all sessions of one programme at a time and may attend missed sessions at a later date. This group is specifically for parents who have a child diagnosed with an ASD and the issues discussed specifically relate to ASD. There are alternate sources of support for children not diagnosed with an ASD that can be accessed through the CONNECT CAMHS and First Steps service.

This group is offered to families of children who are diagnosed external to our service and live in North Staffordshire and then referred to us, as well as those that we assess and diagnose through either the preschool or school age service.

If you would like to meet with me to discuss your concerns in more detail please telephone 01782 408374 to arrange a convenient time for us to meet.

kind regards

Jennie Lonsdale

Consultant Clinical Psychologist