Jersey families waiting 20 months for an autism assessment

One of the children waiting for an assessment is nine-year-old Kyla.Credit: ITV Channel TV

Waiting times for an autism assessment in Jersey have shot up from three and a half months in the first quarter of 2020, to 20 months post-pandemic.There are currently 73 children waiting for an assessment. The government say they are working to clear the backlog, but for many families the help can not come soon enough.One of the children waiting for an assessment is nine-year-old Kyla. Her mum Sophie Walton says abnormalities were first picked up when Kyla was in pre-school.

She was a tip-toe walker, often a sign of Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD). She also had some sensory issues.The family was asked if they wanted to see an occupational therapist, which they did, but because Kyla’s speech continued to develop normally, no further action was deemed to be needed.It was only when her tip-toe walking continued and the pediatrics department said something needed to be done, that they started to pursue the autism assessment route.To help with her tip-toe walking, Kyla has just been to Southampton Hospital where she had Botox injected into her calves, but she will not be able to have more procedures until it has been decided whether it is down to ASD or not.

If autism is ruled out, Kyla would be able to have an operation to help her. But if she is found to be on the autistic spectrum, her tip toe walking would be considered neurological, likely ruling out surgery.

They have now been told they have to wait another 13 months for Kyla’s assessment.

Sophie also worries that with Kyla being the age she is, the delay could mean she would start secondary school in a couple of years time without having managed to pursue the treatment she needs. But the hardest thing, she says, is not being able to give Kyla any reassurances.

Jersey’s government say they are taking action to address the backlog.

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