CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The Virginia Institute of Autism says right now more than 50 percent of Virginians living with autism are receiving inadequate services - and that's if they're getting any services at all.

VIA says there's currently a six-month waiting period to get diagnosed, but it's hoping to cut down that wait time.

On Tuesday, October 30, Virginia Senator Creigh Deeds stopped by VIA’s headquarters in Charlottesville to hear a big announcement.

The institute is now offering comprehensive autism spectrum diagnosis services and education and achievement services for children. These will help more families get the answers they need and provide them the proper tools on what to do next.

The institute can then provide both a full time day school and outpatient resources surrounding academic learning and social skills.

VIA members say this expansion of care is crucial to helping children with autism begin building skills to meet their needs.

“The earlier we can start helping kids and children learn skills, the better their outcomes are gonna be,” Ethan Long, the president of VIA, said. “So to wait six additional months can be - it can be a tremendous amount of time. And on top of that, once you understand what this person needs, then there could be a wait for additional supports and services, so the sooner we can diagnose the better."

Long says the faster children can start receiving support, the more they can overcome challenges and take part in the community.

The Virginia Institute of Autism is hoping to collaborate with Senator Deeds in an effort to get the word out about the need for expansion of services like this one.