Liv­ing with autism

Rise in chil­dren di­ag­nosed with con­di­tion over 10 years

Evening Telegraph (Late Extra Edition) - - YOURVOICE - BY STEVEN RAE

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.

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