Teenager possibly has asd, is 13 months appointment time going to do more damage?

My 14 year old son is suffering massively from anxiety, which we believe now may be due to undiagnosed Aspergers/asd. He has never been bullied thankfully and has done well in his classes, although he won't speak or ask questions. We had first appointment last week with paediatrician who said she'd get speech and language therapist to see him at school and that Camhs would be in contact, but that the first diagnosis appointment wouldn't be for 13months at the very least (we have waited 5 months for this appointment). From experience does anyone regard the ASD diagnosis as critical at this stage or is getting him help with his anxiety enough? Apart from damaging his mental health further, this school year is so important as gcse etc and I want his anxiety to be reduced asap and to know if school should help him further, but this won't happen until after firm diagnosis I'm thinking? Thank you anyone that's reading this, all very new to me, so any help would be received gratefully

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  • I don't know if I can answer this, but I will say that waiting lists are very long. We first went to our GP about my son when he was 7. We didn't get a diagnosis of ASD until just before his 11th birthday. Part of the wait was that they first looked at ADHD and tried to get him to be seen by other professionals first. Once he finally got on the CAMHS waiting list for autism assessment, the wait was 18 months. I am sure that things would have been better had we had answers sooner, but unless you are willing or able to pay, there is no choice but to wait. However, I am so glad we got a diagnosis in the end. My son is happier in himself knowing why he is different, why he struggles. I wish the system was better, but unfortunately this is the way it is. :-(

  • Hi,

    I don't think waiting for an ASD diagnosis is going to do any harm, the ASD drives the anxiety but as long as the anxiety is being treated he should be ok. I got through nearly 50 years with the Asperger's undiagnosed but nobody helped me with my anxiety so that just got worse as time went on. Just make sure you push for everything that can be done to keep his anxiety levels as low as possible is done.

    Best wishes.

  • Thank you both so much for your replies, I really hope you are ok now sooz68, it must have been so very difficult for you, I see how my son is with this anxiety already, to the point where he can't really even say anything to people he doesn't know, I will definitely take you advise. Emmasue, thank you for your reply, it is such a shame for them that it takes so long, and it's so good to hear that it's positive to know the outcome for definate, I will try to help my son to wear what's seen as different wiring with pride.

  • I'm glad you will try to see it as a positive. There are some positives and as with any child, focus on their strengths so that they can get the best out of life. That doesn't mean that life won't be hard at times, but even people without a disability find life hard at times. I wish you the best and hope that you get the answers that you need. x

  • I would say at 14 it's absolutely imperative to get a diagnosis as soon as possible. It's such a critical time educationally, emotionally and developmentally. And the type of support he needs to manage his anxiety will depend on whether he is ASC or neurotypical.

    My son was diagnosed at 13. He had had problems for many years but it wasn't until he started secondary school that I had the support from the school to be able to proceed. I had seen how difficult and long-winded the CAMHS process was for other parents and children so scrabbled the money together to go private (and I was a single parent on very low income at the time). You have to go to an educational psychologist first. If they support the possibility of ASC, then you can use that report to send to your GP to ask for a referral to a child and adolescent psychiatrist who can assess and diagnose. The process was quick and painless and luckily my son went to a good school who on the basis of his diagnosis gave him the support he needed. He went from really not coping, with no friends and on the route to being expelled, to being in a place where he started to form friendships, and manage the school environment.

    He is now at uni, has a group of friends, and a girlfriend, and doing very well.

    I would try to find the money and get the diagnosis. Once my son was diagnosed, he went to a social skills group with CAMHS and there was a teenager who we never saw as their mum couldn't get them to attend the group, who was 16, had been under CAMHS for years but only just received a diagnosis even though they had been a school refuser for about 2 years. I was disgusted that this had been allowed to happen and so glad I had taken the private route. The best money I've ever spent.

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