This page is designed to answer the following questions:
- 3.4. Explain why it is important for individuals to have a formal diagnosis. (Level 2 Certificate in Understanding Autism, Introduction to Autism)
NOTE: This page has been quality assured for 2023 as per our Quality Assurance policy.
A formal diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is important for numerous reasons.
Firstly, a formal diagnosis often is necessary to access various support and intervention services. These can include speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, and educational support. The National Health Service (NHS) and Local Authority can provide certain therapies and support, but eligibility will often require a formal diagnosis. The Autism Act 2009 brought in legislation every individual with autism has the right to have a social care assessment from the local authority.
With a formal diagnosis, individuals have the ability to advocate for their rights under the law. The Equality Act 2010 provides protection against discrimination for people with disabilities, including autism. If someone is treated unfairly because of their autism, the Act provides ways to challenge this treatment.
A diagnosis can also provide a framework for understanding one’s behaviors, thoughts, and feelings, leading to greater self-understanding and self-acceptance. For individuals who have struggled throughout their lives without understanding why, a diagnosis can provide a great sense of relief. It can validate their experiences and provide an explanation for their neurodiversity.
In a school or nursery setting, a formal diagnosis can assist in obtaining the necessary educational support. A child with autism may be entitled to an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan, which details the education, health, and social care support the child requires. The plan is legally binding, which means the local authority must ensure that the support is provided.
In the context of employment, having a formal diagnosis may assist in requesting reasonable adjustments in the workplace. Employers have a legal duty under the Equality Act 2010 to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to work practices and environments to ensure that employees with disabilities aren’t disadvantaged.
In some cases, families or individuals may be eligible for certain benefits or financial assistance if they have a formal diagnosis of autism. For example, they may qualify for Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payment (PIP).