Living with autism
Rise in children diagnosed with condition over 10 years
THE number of children diagnosed with autism in Tayside has more than trebled in a decade, new figures have shown.
Statistics released by NHS Tayside showed there were 117 patients aged 16-and-under with the condition across the region last year, up from just 32 in 2008. The number has risen every year in the past decade.
The figures were released following a freedom of information request to the health board.
Autism is a developmental disability that affects how people perceive the world and interact with others. Those with the condition see, hear and feel the world differently.
Katrina and James Bowick’s son Alex, 5, was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) two years ago. Katrina, 27, and James, 29, live with Alex and younger son Aaron, 4, in Montrose.
Katrina said Alex’s progress, including starting at a mainstream primary school, continued to surprise them.
She said: “Alex had significant developmental delays from a young age. He was very calm, and although I didn’t know it at the time, that is a sign of autism.
“When he was finally diagnosed, to see it there in black and white was devastating.”
Katrina said Alex struggled with communication and some social skills and is still incontinent, but continued to reach new milestones.
“He started at Lochside Primary School, where he gets lots of one-onone support,” she said.
“His communication isn’t great but he can say words and ask for things, and he is improving all the time.
“There are good days and bad days, but Alex is very happy. He gets on great with his teachers and doctors and loves his little brother. There is a lot of great support out there.”
A spokesman for NHS Tayside said: “ASD assessment and diagnosis is undertaken across a variety of services including child and adolescent mental health services, speech and language therapy and paediatrics.
“In common with other health boards in Scotland, increased public awareness of ASD means that people are more likely to seek support and treatment.
“There has also been considerable progress over the last decade in diagnostic testing and development of specialist services which has led to more people being diagnosed.”
Parents Katrina and James Bowick with sons Aaron, 4, and Alex, 5.
Alex Bowick playing at home in Montrose.