New figures from the Department of Health reveal 291 children in Northern Ireland have been delayed beyond the target and that suspected new cases rose by 38% in the 12 months to September.
Health Minister Michael McGimpsey said he hoped all Health and Social Care Trusts would be meeting the target by next March.
The battle for improvement comes amidst friction between the charity Autism NI and one of the key supporters of the Department of Health's strategy, Ken Maginnis, the House of Lords peer.Funding
The charity interprets an email written by Lord Maginnis to the department three weeks ago was a "threat" to its funding.
According to up-to-date Government figures, it received £320,000 in core and project funding in 2008/9 from the Department of Health and trusts.
Lord Maginnis complained of the charity's "persistently obstructive attitude" - something it has denied - and asked whether it should function "independently of any formal provision."
While Melbourne's eastern suburbs have two prep-to-year-12 autism schools, and the Northern Autistic School has campuses in Preston and Jacana, parents say there is nowhere for autistic children in the west after age nine.
''Inclusion into mainstream school does not work for all children,'' says Chris Saunders, of Autism Schools Action. ''This is a human rights issue.''
Yesterday about 20 parents from the group confronted state Education Minister Bronwyn Pike at the launch of the new Laverton campus of the Western Autistic School, to demand the same options in the west as in other parts of Melbourne.
KUAM-TV has a two-part series about autism on Guam: