Today, the Rt. Hon. Ed Balls MP, Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (pictured here with Geoffrey Maddrell, Chairman of Research Autism) encouraged more research into social inclusion for people living with autism at a reception hosted by Research Autism at the House of Commons entitled 'Social Inclusion and Autism: what can research offer?'
Research Autism is the only charity in the UK whose sole focus is to improve the quality of life of those on the autistic spectrum - and their families - through promoting and funding research into interventional treatments and therapies. The charity's three priorities are identifying the condition, intervening with appropriate treatments and therapies and providing a more socially inclusive environment. In 2007, Research Autism launched www.researchautism.net which provides free access to information on the latest research into treatments and therapies for autism.
Geoffrey Maddrell, Research Autism's Chairman explained the motivation behind today's reception: "People with autism often feel isolated as a result of social and communication challenges that the condition poses. As a result, Research Autism is committed to encouraging a more socially inclusive environment for people with autism through funding, evaluating and promoting effective research undertaken by leading autism experts. In its current form, the Disability Discrimination Act does not take into account this hidden disability and Research Autism is keen to ensure that people with autism are provided with the best possible environment, information and support to play an active role in our society. We are asking decision makers, employers, educators and healthcare professionals what social inclusion means to them in relation to autism and to consider what role they can play in creating a better environment for them. "
Research Autism chose to showcase the work of two people with autism at the reception to demonstrate the extraordinary contribution made by people with autism if provided with the right guidance and support. The artwork on display by Stephen Wiltshire and 'Rozagy'/ Nadine Stavonina - de Montagnac aims to provide an interesting perspective on the autistic experience.
Bernard Fleming, Information Manager, Tel. 020 3490 3091, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Research Autism is the only UK charity dedicated to the production of quality, trusted information on autism treatments and other approaches. Its Information Centre is informed by world experts and accredited by the NHS Information Standard, an independent kite-mark of reliability and quality. It guides people through the minefield of interventions on offer, allowing them to make informed decisions based on impartial, factual information, including risks and hazards. Its research programme is derived from the priorities of autistic people and families and addresses areas that affect everyday life.
Studies suggest that only 15 % of individuals with autism become independent as adults and over 40% are living with their parents as adults. Of the able group, the majority report having experienced severe bullying throughout their school lives and thereafter. All report having to combat severe anxiety and a significant number also report distressing sensory differences such as painful hearing, hypersensitivity to light, touch and perceptual problems. We know that only about 12 % are in paid work although there are many more who could work if reasonable adjustments were made. The Disability Discrimination Act is not working for this group.
A recent report undertaken by Professor Martin Knapp at the London School of Economics entitled 'The Economic consequences of autism in the UK'(December 2007) recently estimated the annual cost of autism on the UK economy as £28 billion - the majority of this cost is spent on supporting adults. Huge costs are expended each year on services that do not begin to meet the complex needs of autism. Many do not have their problems recognised with the consequence that they do not get access to interventional techniques that can make a significant difference to their lives and they are often placed in inappropriate settings such as mental health or in some cases the criminal justice system. In addition to costs to the State, families invest significant personal funds in seeking treatments that might positively enhance the behaviours inherent to the condition. Currently, there is no single, nationally representative data set that would allow us to estimate prevalence, service-use and costs for the same group of people.