The Health Minister, Robin Swann, has revealed that more than 603 adults are waiting for over a year for autism diagnosis.
Mr Swann was answering an Assembly Written Question from South Down SDLP MLA, Colin McGrath, who also revealed that in total 1,101 were currently waiting for assessment.
The Minister also said that a planned review of adult autism services planned to begin in April of this year had been delayed as a result of the Covid-19 crisis but will be asking the Executive to bring forward an interim review early in 2021.
In terms of the current totals the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust alone has 346 people waiting in excess of 52 weeks for assessment, with only the Northern Trust not having anyone waiting beyond a year.
The written answer detailed how long were people waiting across four week intervals, as counted as of August 2020. Almost 200 have been waiting between 26-39 weeks.
Of the other trusts South Eastern Trust had 83 waiting for assessment more than a year, the Southern Trust 124 and the Western Trust 50.
Meta Auden, founder of Spectra Sensory Clothing reacted to the statistics: “The waiting times for an autism diagnosis are totally unacceptable and cause great distress for many.
“In the case of adults, they seem to be forgotten, and it has to be remembered that children with autism grow up to become adults with autism.”
Mr Swann was also asked for his plans to reduce the waiting times.
“People with Autistic Spectrum Disorder have access to a range of core HSC services,” he explained in his answer. “Support may be provided via GP and Primary Care in the first instance or referral onto services such as psychology or psychiatry, depending on assessed need.
“Access to other community services where relating to Mental Health or Learning Disability support are also available where appropriate, as are services provided through the community/voluntary sector.”
With regards to waiting times he said: “I am however fully aware of the rising demand for adult autism services within our health and social care sector and of the growing need for the standardisation of provision of services across the regional Trusts.
“This is why my Department has been liaising with the Health and Social Care Board and with the Public Health Agency to commence a review of adult autism services.
“Work on this review was due to commence in April of this year, but due to pressures on the system as a result of COVID-19, plans to commence this work had to be paused.”
He went on: “However, mindful of the challenges which COVID 19 has presented to families and people with autism, I have recently written to my Executive Colleagues to advise them of my intention to publish an interim autism strategy early in 2021 which will ultimately inform the development of a fully co-produced strategy later in 2021.
“It is intended that the work to review adult autism services will be undertaken as an action within this strategy. Like its predecessor, this interim strategy contains cross-departmental actions recognising that adults with autism require a wide range of support across for example health, education, housing, and employment.”
Meta Auden said that lengthy waiting times for diagnosis are across all ages:
“One of the frequently asked questions on the forums here is ‘is there anywhere else, where I can get my child diagnosed’?” she said. Until diagnosis they cannot access many HSC services.
“This means that the children are struggling at school, as no help without diagnosis.”
There has meant, according to the Spectra Sensory founder, many are having to pay.
“One customer has private health care but it does not cover the autism spectrum, so she is going for a diagnosis to a private clinic where the cost is nearly £400.00.
“There are not many who can afford this and considering that 85% of young adults with autism are unlikely to be in work compared to the rest of the young adult population the private route is not feasible.”
She added that, whilst her company caters for children, the range goes far beyond that.
“We cater for all ages, our largest size maybe a 17/18, but they are large enough for many adults and indeed many adults also wear our t-shirts and shirts.”
Top Tips For Your Impending Return to Your Salon
It’s probably been close to 5 months now from your last hair appointment, and while salons everywhere will often scold their guests for use of home colour, it’s unfortunately become a fact of life for many in this last year, and along with home haircuts and those ‘fun’ pastel shade toners, they’re about to make the jobs of hairdressers everywhere much more difficult over the next few months. Here are our top tips to make sure you aren’t the straw that breaks the camel’s back when you can finally get to visit your favourite salon!
Stop Using Your Silver Shampoo Now!
While it’s touted as the saving grace for many blondes, the fact is that the pigments that allow your silver shampoo to do its job will get in the way of you achieving your dream colour. They’re designed to filter out any warmth, which is what most people think they need, but the build-up of pigment can sadly interfere with your goal. A few good clarifying shampoos will get rid of all the extra stuff, letting your hairdresser see what they’re really working with.
Give Your Hair a Treat!
Most of us haven’t really had any reason to style our hair for the best part of a year, other than to just feel a bit more normal. At home, we generally don’t use much by way of styling products, meaning your hair gets a real battering from styling outside the salon. Give the hot tools a break and start using an intense conditioning treatment every time you wash your hair to get it in the very best condition before you get back to the salon!
Be Careful With Your Home Colour (and why you should always patch test)
We don’t generally recommend using colour yourself, but we’re well aware that most people will have had to. Always make sure you patch test with your box colour (the instructions are always printed on the packet) and be extra careful with your application. Home colour is unpredictable, and if we don’t know what the concentration of ingredients is, we can’t always guarantee the end result. You’ll also hopefully see your salon requiring you to have a new patch test before your first appointment, it’s for your safety and to make sure we don’t get sued, so please don’t skip this, they won’t legally be able to look after you without it!
Stay Realistic and Reasonable
We know you’ve been dreaming of your perfect hair for months, but with tight schedules, extra-long roots and uneven fade, your best bet is to be as reasonable with what you expect to be possible as you can. We really aren’t in the business to shatter your dreams, we want you to have the hair you’ve been brainstorming with your friends all year as much as you do, but with all the uncontrollable factors this year, it just might not be possible straight away.
Be honest with what you want, and prepare to wait
Finally, and probably most importantly, please make sure you have an honest conversation with your hairdresser about what you’d actually like to get and where you’re starting from. A great idea would be to request a video consultation beforehand if you’re not sure or to book one in person along with your patch test. It’s a great way to make sure you have enough time allocated to get exactly what you want, but if it’s a big change or a corrective process, expect for it to take more time than you’re used to. As you’re well aware, the levels of perfection we aspire to don’t happen easily!
With this information, you’re well-armed to be your salons favourite client, and although we rarely say it, it could mean that we somehow find you a space when we’re fully booked in future!
Men, Are You Going To Make The Cut?
With walk in appointments at your local barber shop a thing of the past, save for a few less reputable establishments ruining lives across the country, men’s hair trends are changing rapidly through this most recent lockdown.
As the trauma from the dodgy home haircut still lies fresh in the hearts and minds of men everywhere, the cool young things are slowly letting their fades grow out into something much more inspired by the early 90s than the classic Peaky Blinders cuts we’ve been seeing.
Those in the know are much more likely to use Leonardo circa Romeo+Juliet as their reference than Cillian Murphy these days, but if you’re not quite sure what to ask for a new look can be an absolute minefield before you even set foot in the shop.
Traditionally, guys aren’t equipped with the same language surrounding hair and grooming treatments as women, making the process an emotional roller-coaster, so step one is look for a salon or barber shop already doing the kind of haircuts you like, although we do appreciate that all the great ones haven’t done much by way of haircuts at all recently.
Check Facebook and Instagram for somebody close by, bonus points if you think they might have been around long enough to see the trend first time – they’ll know exactly what to do. Next, and probably most importantly, is take their advice on board.
A good rule of thumb is that when we talk about things like your hairs natural texture, techniques like layering or disconnection (we know this sounds totally alien, just go along with it) and which products and methods you’ll need to style it at home, you’re probably in safer hands than you think.
We really don’t want to give you a bad haircut, it’s not good for you and ultimately not good for us either, so if we say it won’t work, we’re saving us both a lot of heartache. In this digital age its easier than ever before for you to sit down well armed with reference pictures, so if your stylist doesn’t acknowledge how to customise these for your specific needs, now is probably when you should hear some alarm bells.
Your dad’s barber shop might not be the place to give you the hair of your dreams, but with some research, a few pictures and the guts to go somewhere new, it isn’t entirely out of reach, but luckily the buzz cut is still very much on trend!