Colchester: Mother calls for better autism care

A COLCHESTER mother has criticised her local NHS Trust for failing to help her nine-year-old autistic son.

Claire Gonzalez and her family moved to the town after husband Philip, who is a Staff Sergeant, was posted to Merville Barracks in September.

Their son, James, is unable to put on his own socks, do up buttons or zips, unscrew bottle tops or write his name.

He had been receiving regular occupational and physiotherapy sessions to improve his motor skills when they were living in Germany during her husband’s previous posting.

Mrs Gonzalez says James was showing signs of improvement under the treatments which she believes are vital if he is to gain any independence when he is older.

But since their move to the Essex, James has been refused the same treatments by NHS North East Essex on the grounds that he does not qualify because he is autistic.

She says he has also been refused a mental health assessment despite suffering from anxiety and ADHD.

Most Read

“I want him to have some level of independence when he’s older so these treatments are vital,” she said.

“I do not need the extra stress of chasing appointments and worrying that his medical needs are not being met.

“There are hundreds of parents in our area that must have been refused the same treatments for their autistic children.

“Regardless of whether a child is autistic, they should still be given a good start in life.”

A spokesman for NHS North East Essex said: “Children suspected of having autistic symptoms are referred by their GP to a community paediatrician who will carry out a detailed assessment of the child.

“Depending on this assessment and the severity of the child’s autism, a range of services are available including physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech and language therapy.

“A referral to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services is only made if the child’s assessment suggests autism combined with other mental health issues.

“Additional services to those provided by the NHS may be provided through a child’s school.

NHS North East Essex has also provided Autism Anglia with �30,000 of funding this year.

“We are happy to sit down with a parent and discuss their child’s situation if the parent has concerns.”