Children in Fife were waiting years for an autism diagnosis, being passed between services and given conflicting advice, the Annual Conference for Educational Psychologists in Scotland was told.
But now Fife Council claims to have dramatically reduced waiting times and improved access to services, thanks to the introduction of a new assessment model.
At their worst, before the introduction of local multi-agency assessment teams in Fife, waiting lists for an autism diagnosis were close to three years.
The West Fife Autism Spectrum Pilot was introduced in 2008 to find a better way forward. Seventeen youngsters from 11 schools were taken from the waiting list and headteachers were charged with co-ordinating and chairing meetings.
The aim of the first meeting was to share information and plan assessment; at the second meeting, the group decided upon its diagnosis. But if the teams were unsure of the diagnosis, the child was passed to the Fife Autism Spectrum Teams (FAST). On average, it took 18 weeks for the teams to reach a decision.
The model is being extended across Fife.