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ASPartOfMe
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04 Apr 2024, 8:45 am

NHS ‘overwhelmed’ with ADHD and autism referrals

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The NHS is inundated with patients waiting for ADHD and autism assessments, with demand soaring fivefold since before the pandemic.

The Nuffield Trust found there are as many as 1.2 autistic people and 2.2 million people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in the UK.

The think tank reported some 172,000 people were waiting for a specialist assessment for a formal diagnosis of autism in December - five times higher than the 32,320 people waiting four years earlier.

More than half of those on the waiting list are children and teenagers, which poses a significant risk to their educational progress as they may not get the extra help and support they need.

As well as the overwhelming waiting list, there are reports of a national shortage of ADHD medications. More than a quarter of patients claimed they had not been able to access their treatment after a drug shortage alert was published in 2023, The Pharmaceutical Journal found.

Although the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) recommends people with suspected autism should be diagnosed within three months of a referral, some 147,070 patients had been waiting at least 13 weeks in December. This is more than six times the 24,250 who had to wait in December 2019

There was a 146% increase in people aged 30 to 34 being prescribed medication to treat their ADHD.

New analysis of the data by Nuffield Trust found 79% of people who had been waiting 13 weeks or longer had not had their first appointment with a specialist - up from 44% in December 2019.

Services are simply unable to keep up with the overwhelming surge in demands for tests, which experts believe is down to increased public awareness of the conditions leading to more people looking for support

The Covid-19 pandemic “unmasked” symptoms in a lot of people as they were forced away from normality throughout lockdowns and school and work closures.

There is no common consensus among experts as to whether the increase in diagnoses is down to a rise in children having autism and ADHD, or whether there is a previous unmet need which means people are now reaching out for support.


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“My autism is not a superpower. It also isn’t some kind of god-forsaken, endless fountain of suffering inflicted on my family. It’s just part of who I am as a person”. - Sara Luterman


autisticelders
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05 Apr 2024, 12:34 pm

It would be interesting to see what percentage this group is, of the total general population which the NHS serves. The vast majority of autistic individuals in the world today were born before autism was even a known diagnosis and included in DSM in 1980 as infantile schizophrenia. Our understanding of autism has grown since then, but those of us born before 1980 may just be learning about autism and suspecting that we may be autistic. Makes perfect sense to me. The word is finally getting out that old people can be autistic too. Media coverage has been much more frequent these days than even 10 years ago when I started my own quest to learn about autism and found diagnosis at age 68.


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steve30
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27 Apr 2024, 6:53 pm

I'd be interested to know what sort of real world problems these people have. We often hear in the media about people who have social lives, relationships, jobs/businesses, and they seem to have every mental diagnosis in existence. Then there's me, unable to do any of the above, with one single diagnosis (AS), which I often wonder myself whether its correct or not.

I don't want to deny anyone's actual medical problems but I do think there are a lot of people pushing an agenda of mass labelling people as mentally ill when really all they need is a bit of compassion.



JamesW
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03 May 2024, 8:22 am

steve30 wrote:
I'd be interested to know what sort of real world problems these people have. We often hear in the media about people who have social lives, relationships, jobs/businesses, and they seem to have every mental diagnosis in existence. Then there's me, unable to do any of the above, with one single diagnosis (AS), which I often wonder myself whether its correct or not.

I don't want to deny anyone's actual medical problems but I do think there are a lot of people pushing an agenda of mass labelling people as mentally ill when really all they need is a bit of compassion.


The problem you have there is not the diagnoses. It's the media.