Parents of autistic children face a “postcode lottery” after the Scottish Government cut funding for post-diagnostic services.

The National Post Diagnostic Support Service was launched in December 2020 to “support newly diagnosed people across Scotland to understand and embrace their identity as an autistic person.”

Funded by the Scottish Government, the service was delivered in partnership with national charities Scottish Autism, National Autistic Society Scotland, Autism Initiatives Scotland and a number of local autistic groups.

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However, despite overwhelmingly positive feedback, Maree Todd, the Minister for Social Care, Mental Wellbeing and Sport made clear the funding for the programming was coming to an end.

Instead, the £1 million set aside for post-diagnostic support will now focus entirely on support for adults.

Organisations have just four weeks to apply for the funding, which will be awarded in October, to be spent by April 2024.

Instead, children and families seeking post-diagnostic support will be directed towards local authorities and local NHS boards, although there will be no statutory requirement for this.

Dorry McLaughlin, CEO of Scottish Autism, told The Herald they were “very concerned about the impact of this decision.”

She added: “Nobody would disagree that autistic adults need support, but the Scottish Government should not be taking an all-or-nothing approach to post-diagnostic support.

"It is simply not practical to design a new service in four weeks, especially when there is the chance that the service might only operate for six months depending on future funding awards.

“This is the sort of short-termism that we have seen all too often, and which does not benefit the people who matter most, autistic people and their families.

“We are grateful that the Scottish Government will continue to fund our advice line service, which has acted as an important signposting and support service for many individuals and families.

“This service cannot, however, replace or replicate the post-diagnostic support service which we had developed.

"We know from our advice line that the level of support available in local areas varies wildly, and with no statutory obligation for the development or delivery of post-diagnostic support services, we fear that children and families will fall victim to postcode lotteries and that this will result in increased CAMHS referrals, and lengthy waits."

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Conservative MSP, Alexander Burnett, who chairs the Scottish Parliament's cross-party group on autism, said the decision to axe post-diagnostic funding for children and their families was “a hammer blow to Scotland's autism services and the vulnerable people they help.”

He added: "And despite warnings that this new approach leaves them at a precipice, the Minister has confirmed it's their way or no way at all.

"Autism services cannot redesign within four weeks to comply with this arbitrary, wrongheaded set of requirements.

"And lumping the responsibility on to our overstretched NHS, local councils and health partnerships — with no statutory obligation to fill the void — presents a major risk to children in need of post-diagnostic support."

The Scottish Government has been approached for comment.