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GIRLS living with autism often have to wait more than three years for a diagnosis – with some self-harming and even attempting suicide, says Cathy Wassell, founder of the Autistic Girls Network.

The mother of two autistic teenagers said: “Girls are being let down by the current system. Our recent poll with members highlights just how bad the situation is. Girls are suffering post-traumatic stress disorder at school, too anxious to go, self-harming and even attempting suicide. This is a situation we simply cannot ignore and change is needed.”

Almost half of respondents had to wait for up to two years for a diagnosis; one in four waited more than three years; and one in ten took the private route to get their diagnosis, costing up to £2500.

Mrs Wassell added: “Diagnosis is a postcode lottery, but no girl should have to wait for years. The consequences can be massive.

“A late or missed diagnosis can end up causing huge mental health problems and school anxiety.

“The current assessment tools used to screen for Autistic Spectrum Condition are male-centric. It is vital that tools are put in place that reflect multiple presentations, so no child’s need goes unrecognised or unsupported.

“Whether it’s protracted diagnosis, misdiagnosis or total lack of suitable provision, the system needs to be more reflective of female autism on every level.”

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