Autism service to boost diagnosis rates

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A new service has launched to boost autism diagnosis rates among adults in Sheffield.

The health scheme will offer psychiatry, clinical psychology, specialist nursing, occupational therapy and speech and language therapy, as well as social care assessments, to people with autistic spectrum conditions such as ADHD and dyspraxia.

Staff will also work closely with other health and social care services, charities, companies and educational institutions to ensure autism patients are well-supported.

The service will be run by Sheffield Health and Social Care, which has been handed a three-year contract by NHS Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group.

Dr Steve Thomas, the commissioning group’s clinical lead for mental health, said: “This new service is going to support people across the board with autistic spectrum conditions.

“Having a formal diagnosis is a fundamental part of the process of developing self-awareness, understanding and self-management.”

Dr Thomas said receiving a diagnosis can mean patients are less likely to develop long-term illnesses, lose their jobs or experience difficulties in family relationships.

“Other people need additional post-diagnostic support through taught self-management techniques, advice and interventions, and the service will also provide this, as well as help aimed at supporting them to access housing, employment and education services,” he added.

The new scheme is not designed for people with learning disabilities, as there is already a service for this group of people.

Anyone who thinks they may be eligible for help should visit their GP, who will be able to offer a referral if appropriate.