‘The Importance of Diagnosis’ – Dr Ashok Roy
31st March 2021
Tell us a bit about yourself and your experience of autism diagnosis.
“I am a consultant psychiatrist for adults with learning disabilities working in a community service in Solihull. I also work in a nearby inpatient service in a hospital for people with learning disabilities. A large proportion of people I see have autism. Additionally, I have also worked for some years providing psychiatric input to the team at SPARC which specialises in diagnosing autism in adults.”
Why is getting a diagnosis of autism so important?
“Getting an autism diagnosis follows a careful assessment of the individual’s need. This means that following diagnosis there is a clear set of needs which are important to the individual. Without the diagnosis help is often difficult to access.”
A conversation with Dr Ashok Roy
What do you think are the main reasons people seek a diagnosis as adults?
“There are several reasons for this. A common reason is that people who become aware that they function in a different way to people around them and are not able to understand the reason for being different. A thorough assessment that is required to make a diagnosis of autism allows for a good understanding the services that might be useful for the individual. Another reason is that when autism is not diagnosed the wrong diagnoses may be made and therefore treatments are likely to be unsuccessful. This can raise the suspicion of the person having hitherto unrecognised autism.”
What advice would you give to someone who thinks they may have autism and is considering seeking a diagnosis?
“It is often helpful making contact with local support groups and charities to meet knowledgeable people and professionals to get a better idea of what autism is like and look for similarities with others. There is also useful information available on the internet such as NAS about diagnosis and support services and networks. If this increases the likelihood of autism being present then it would be worthwhile discussing next steps with the GP to discuss referrals to access services including diagnostic services. Currently there is a a lot of variation in the nature and configuration of services from area to area.”
What trends, developments or improvements have you seen in autism diagnosis over the past few years?
“The first Autism Strategy led to an increase in investment and development of autism services. The strategy is being revised and is due for a launch in the summer. This is likely to be accompanied with further resources for growth of services. Recent years have shown an increase I the number of people diagnosed with autism. This is largely due to greater awareness and improved identification rather than a real increase in prevalence. There are more girls and women being diagnosed with autism. This is suspected to be due to women being better at masking their autism.”
“Autism has got a higher profile than ever before and the imminent publication of the national strategy provides the potential for a significant improvement in services for autistic people. The Birmingham autism and ADHD Partnership Board is receiving more support from local agencies such as the NHS and the City Council and so has drawn up an ambitious plan for developing local services in the future.”
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