Autism charities have united to call on the UK Government to signal its commitment to supporting people affected by autism by ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, one year after signing up to the document.
In a letter to the Daily Telegraph today, the heads of 10 UK autism charities ask the Government to adopt the Convention's commitments to combat prejudice and raise awareness of the capabilities and contributions of disabled people, including those with autism.
The call comes on the first ever World Autism Awareness Day. Along with diabetes and AIDS, autism is now one of only three medical conditions to have a UN-sponsored international day.
In their letter, the charities say: "Autism is much more common than most people think, affecting one in 100 people in the UK. All public services and business should expect to serve people with autism and greater understanding is vital for people with autism to be able to enjoy the same rights and freedoms as everyone in society."
The call is backed by a petition signed by 7500 people, which will be presented to Minister for Disabled People, Anne McGuire at parliament today by a group of people with autism.
In other World Autism Awareness Day activities today, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Autism is staging a special meeting which will be addressed by Isobel Bayonas, President of the World Autism Organisation.
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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.
The letter to the Telegraph was signed by Autism Awareness Campaign UK, Autism Speaks, The Kingwood Trust, National Autistic Society, Prior's Court Foundation, Research Autism, TreeHouse and The Celtic Nations Autism Partnership: Scottish Society for Autism, Autism Cymru, Autism NI
Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with, and relates to, other people. It also affects how they make sense of the world around them. It is a spectrum condition, which means that, while all people with autism share certain difficulties, their condition will affect them in different ways. Some people with autism are able to live relatively independent lives but others may have accompanying learning disabilities and need a lifetime of specialist support. People with autism may also experience over- or under-sensitivity to sounds, touch, tastes, smells, light or colours.
Asperger syndrome is a form of autism. People with Asperger syndrome are often of average or above average intelligence. They have fewer problems with speech but may still have difficulties with understanding and processing language.