Hastings teenager diagnosed with autism after mental health petition

Matthew Collett-Leslie
Matthew Collett-Leslie

A 14-year-old boy who started a petition after waiting years for an appointment with mental health experts has finally received a diagnosis.

In June, Matthew Collett-Leslie, of Catsfield Close, St Leonards, joined a four to six-month waiting list for an assessment at St Anne’s Centre in Hastings.

He first approached CAMHS – Children and Young People’s Mental Health Services – in 2011, with the hope he would be diagnosed with autism.

But when the wait for an appointment started to affect his school and home life, Matthew – with the help of his father Joe – set up a petition.

“Today I have had the official diagnosis of Autistic Sprectum Disorder,” said Matthew.

“I feel quite happy to finally get this diagnosis after a year a half of waiting for support.

“At school and home I feel I will probably get the support I need.

“And I am pleased I started this petition for other children like me.

“It just proves they can do it in a short amount of time with press attention, appointments close together, just like that and what I ask myself why cant they do this all the time for.

“Because of all the press attention they speeded up my appointments but why cant they do that for other children.”

Matthew’s petition gathered nearly 500 signatures and drew attention from national media.

Speaking to the Observer in September 2015, Matthew said his then undiagnosed condition affected him because he couldn’t get the help and support he needed at school.

He said teachers and fellow students didn’t understand him and had led to incidents of bullying.

He added: “At home as I am not getting the help it has caused stress with my dad as he has no help himself as I am not diagnosed yet.

“This is why I am doing the petition to decrease waiting times and get the help other children, like myself need.”

His father Joe said Matthew had been trying to get an appointment since 2011.

Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust said assessments for autism involve ‘several stages’ with a number of different professionals because the symptoms are complex and often confused with other conditions.

In September 2015, the trust said there had been a ‘significant rise’ in the number of referrals which has increased pressure on the service.

Click here to view Matthew’s petition

Hastings teenager petitions mental health services

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