On a waiting list with Bristol Autism Spectrum Service, have been for seven months now. I was expecting it to to be 6-7 judging from various bits of information, so feeling a bit anxious it's got to month 7 and I've still not had a letter for an appointment. They got my hopes up early October when my mum received and sent back her questionnaire, and I got a letter asking for an additional informant if possible-but I didn't have one so just sent the form back saying so-and otherwise they would send me a letter for an appointment at a later date; they were keen to get the form back, so I was kind of expecting after that that things would begin moving forwards, so that it hasn't is an additional reason I'm worried something might have gone wrong.
Think I have to call them, but I really really hate phoning people. I can do phone calls where I know the format (so I can call my bank, I can phone companies to say 'I want to cancel x') but that's about it (I even get anxious phoning my mum-I have to get her to phone me). I've been reasoning with myself for several weeks that I should call them if I don't receive a letter by x date-and pushing forwards said date each time in an effort to avoid it but now I think I definitely need to call. I don't have anybody I can get to call for me.
But I don't know what to say?? I really just want to make sure nothing's gone awry, I've not missed a letter or mistakenly been dropped from the list for some random reason. Plus I'm about to go away for the holidays and I can't help worry that what just would happen is a letter coming the day after I leave for an appointment before I come back and not knowing anything about it (sod's law and all that). But trying to come up with a script to explain that gets me into a tangle and I know I'm not going to make sense-plus I don't know what they'll ask or say or anything, not to mention the worry that something really has gone wrong. :S Any help or suggestions much appreciated.
I think it's fine to call just to check you're still on the list, and to check there wasn't anything they were waiting on that you may have missed. Also you can ask if they can give you a rough idea of when you might next hear something. Both my partner and I called one or two times during our 18 month wait just to check we hadn't missed anything in the post and hadn't been forgotten.
I emailed my contact centre and they were happy. Worth checking to see if there is an email address.
As Creek has suggested you could email them - they have this address on their webpage: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sometimes I prefer to phone so I can try to get an answer immediately. Once I have sent an email I get a bit obsessed waiting for a reply to come. If I am going to phone I write down what I want to say first, such as:
"Hello this is Sunflower. I am on the waiting list for an autism assessment and I just wanted to check if you need any additional information from me"
They will need to verify your identity so they are likely to ask things like date of birth or address, they might even want to phone you back.
I might also say something like:
"I am going to be on holiday between x and y dates, so if you need to contact me urgently please text my mobile".
I would probably also ask:
"Can you tell me what the waiting time for my assessment is likely to be?".
Planning ahead makes things far less stressful. I sometimes rehearse what I am going to say by actually speaking the words out loud.
There is always a risk that the phone conversation will go off in an unexpected direction. If it does I can escape by saying: "it might be better if I email you, please could you let me know your address?"
Good luck with everything. I hope you get reassurance that things are still in progress.
I have emailed them before, once to ask about a form they'd sent me, to which I did get a reply, and the second time asking about waiting times-to which I didn't. I don't know if they might be cagey giving out info over email because it's not necessarily secure (not that phoning is really either...). Decided to try emailing first though, then if I don't get a reply I guess I'll have to do some deep breathing and bite the bullet to phone them. Thank you for some nice short ideas of things to say-I kept trying to come up with something and it all runs away from me. :)
Keep emailing. I emailed quite a few times because I was told the report would be a few weeks. I kept pursuing it (5 emails) once a week and got a reply.
Keep it friendly, keep it weekly till you get a reply.
Update: So, I emailed before Christmas and got no response whatsoever (helpful...)
Finally managed to call them today. Got very thrown off by getting put through to the main centre reception instead of the autism service (this is what I hate most, not knowing who is going to pick up the phone and therefore what I am going to need to explain to them) but managed to stumble over explaining I was on the waiting list for the autism service and they put me through. I forgot to say hello and I'm sure I made no sense, but the lady obviously got what I was asking.
Told me I am still on the waiting list quite near the top (much relief) should hear about an appointment in Feb (their waiting list has obviously grown exponentially...if I'd known it was going to be this long I'd have gone privately, but there's no point now). I only realised after I'd hung up that I forgot also to say goodbye and pretty much just put the phone down on her...oops. Never mind, much less worried now, maybe I can stop obsessing about the post for a few weeks.
That is really good news. It is wonderful that you are finally near the top of the list. While you are waiting you could always keep a diary of things you find difficult so you have examples to tell your assessor about. Like you I hate not knowing who I am going to be speaking to when I phone up. I easily get thrown off course if the conversation does not go as planned. They will understand the difficulties you have being an autism assessment service, so don't worry about having forgotten the social niceties.
That's good news you're on top of the waiting list! I completely get what you mean about going privately had we known the waiting was going to be so long. I got the questionnaire package in June and when I called them in December, I'm nowhere near the top. They said the waiting list has grown so much that it's now a 2-3 years wait. Good luck with your assessment!