Parents to have say on better system for diagnosing children with autism

Sylvia Mackenzie, who organised a protest outside Raigmore Hospital last year as part of her campaign efforts, is worried that the local authority may be failing her nephew, who has autism and ADHD

A date has been set for a crunch meeting between parents campaigning for a better system to diagnose children with autism and NHS Highland department heads.

Lead campaigner Sylvia Mackenzie, of Culloden, was joined by other parents in August to share their personal experiences of the current system with board executive Elaine Mead.

Among concerns raised were the lack of a guaranteed timescale for diagnosis and inadequate provision of assessments, treatment of parents by the authorities and the need for more educational support.

The meeting was a success and parents were told that another would be scheduled soon, for department heads such as paediatricians and speech and language therapists to meet them to address the issues and make changes.

Mrs Mackenzie had been growing frustrated over a lack of correspondence from the board.

But an NHS Highland spokesman has now confirmed that the Rapid Process Improvement Workshop (RPIIW) for children and young people with nuero-developmental needs will take place in the week starting February 13.

Yesterday Mrs Mackenzie said: “We’ve waited long enough and I am hoping there will be positive talks on the day of the meeting and that we won’t have to wait any longer.

“I am quite excited but anxious about the meeting. There’s quite a lot to sort out, so the sooner the better. It’s quite worrying when you don’t hear anything for months. It’s always us chasing them when professionals should be approaching us and keeping us informed.”

Mrs Mackenzie battled with the authorities for 10 years to have her son Kobe diagnosed with autism.

Her son was eventually diagnosed under another health board in 2013 and sought an independent psychologist’s assessment which concluded that NHS Highland had failed to conduct appropriate assessments.