Private assessments - my knees vs. autism

For the past 3 weeks I have been troubled by my knees which has left me struggling to function on a daily basis and I have difficulties in doing things that other people don’t even have to think about. As you can imagine, I have been keen to understand why and then do something to get the use of my knees back. This was not really something that I wanted to wait around for, and luckily I have private health care insurance from work.

Within days I saw a private consultant who carried out an assessment, determined what the issue was, told me about my short-term & long-term options, and then referred me onto physio who should be able to help me walk without the need for crutches. For my long-term options I wanted a second opinion, and have an appointment booked with another consultant so that I can make an informed choice about what is best for me and my knees. When people ask me about my knees, their response to me going private is typically along the lines of “good that you have that option, it can make such a difference to getting support quickly”.

As I made my way to my private physio appointment last night, thankful that after 3 weeks I was getting some support to help me improve my knee function, I started to think about the recent reports of parents “rushing to the front of the queue” and “working the system” to get support for their children with SEND needs. I thought about my previous post outlining my reasons for getting private assessments for my son. I thought about the many parents who have gone down the route of getting private assessments in the hope of trying to get some support for their child who is struggling in school, only to have those assessments discounted or ignored by schools and local authorities. Those parents who are have been accused of buying their diagnosis, or trying to get a diagnosis for a competitive advantage or benefit. It left me wondering why.

Why is getting is me getting a private assessment for my knees viewed as a perfectly acceptable and reasonable option getting help when time is of the essence, whilst doing the same thing for my son's autism is viewed by some as jumping the queue or working the system?

It seems to me that getting a private assessment for physical health care needs like my knee is accepted as people can see and understand the challenge of not being able to walk more that ten steps without support, whilst acceptance of private assessments for invisible disabilities like my sons autism still has a way to go as it is harder for people to fully see and understand the extent to which he is challenged in every day life.

Wouldn’t it be great if one day the same level of acceptance was given to private assessments and diagnosis for autism, and other invisible disabilities, as my private knee assessment. A day when parents could use their private assessments as evidence of needs to schools and local authorities, to receive support to meet these needs.

I hope to see the day when I can talk about private assessments for my son's autism being viewed with the same validity as private assessments for my knee.

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