Research Autism holds House of Commons Reception: 'Autism Interventions: which ones can you trust?'

News Release Date: 19 January 2011

Research Autism holds a reception today at the House of Commons jointly hosted by John Howell OBE MP. Keynote speaker on the day will be one of the charity's longstanding, esteemed patrons, Baroness Angela Browning. Geoffrey Maddrell, Chairman of Research Autism, will introduce the programme and the speakers, the other speakers being Professor Patricia Howlin from the Institute of Psychiatry and Joe Powell, who will speak about living with an autism spectrum condition (ASC). The event will also be attended by other Research Autism patrons, a number of leading MP's, trustees, funders, health professionals and supporters of the charity - including the Rt. Hon Maria Miller MP, the Minister for Disabled People.

(Baroness Angela Browning: Geoffrey Maddrerll, Chairman of Research Autism: Professor Pat Howlin, trustee of Research Autism: Joe Powell, expert by experience to Research Autism)

There are currently over half a million people living with autism in the UK; the large majority being adults. The numbers of those diagnosed with autism is on the rise and the economic cost of support for this group is just over £25 billion (1) each year, yet scientific research into the condition is still limited and it has very little funding, and the provision of services for this group remains inconsistent. This is where the crucial work of charity Research Autism comes into place. They are the only UK charity whose sole focus is scientific research into autism interventions.

Parents of children with autism and adults on the spectrum themselves are often misled by bogus claims of autism interventions. It is for this reason today's reception is entitled, 'autism interventions: which ones can you trust?' as there is a huge amount of speculation surrounding so many interventions, that families and those with ASC do not know where to turn for definitive answers. It is the job of Research Autism to independently evaluate each intervention and piece of research and then disseminate this information to parents, people with ASC, health professionals and service providers, all via their internationally renowned website. Research Autism is committed to making a positive and meaningful impact on the quality of life of people with autism and those around them, by providing independent and impartial information on autism interventions and treatments.

The fact still remains that families in the UK and adults with ASC still find it extremely complicated to get the correct autism assessment and subsequent diagnosis. Many people with ASC and their families can live their whole lives with incorrect support or without any specialist guidance. It's therefore not surprising that only 12% of adults with autism are in gainful employment and 40% still live at home with their parents. (2) Many of the problems stem from the fact that many frontline health professionals still feel that they do not have the necessary expertise in the condition, 80% of GPs recently said that they felt they needed more training to manage patients with autism more effectively. (2) Research Autism understands that the issues surrounding the condition are vast and complex but strongly advocate the starting point of any activity, has to be evidence based research.

Geoffrey Maddrell, Chairman of Research Autism said:

"Over the past decade autism as a condition has slowly been coming out from under the cloud of ignorance and whilst it has always been there, it has been diagnosed as affecting over half a million people in the UK, with many others (mainly adults) still undiagnosed. The landmark Autism Act 2009, and the publication of the first ever autism strategy 'fulfilling and rewarding lives' have been significant developments towards improving service provision in the UK. However, bridging the gap from children's to adult services still remains an area in need of great improvement.

"In addition to this, the devastating implications for those affected by autism and their families is also being increasingly recognized; including high levels of exclusion and isolation at all levels, leading in many instances to the trap of mental illness and indeed suicide. The major problem is that, as we are still at an early stage of understanding, those trying to help often simply do not know where to turn. The key missing link is undoubtedly research, into what works and what does not work. With little or no spending on research, parents and others have been crying out for help, which is why Research Autism was set up. We know that with correct and timely intervention the quality of life and outlook can be much improved and those with autism can live fulfilling lives, whilst also making a valued contribution to the community."

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Notes to editors:


Bernard Fleming, Information Manager, Tel. 020 3490 3091, email info@researchautism.net

Research Autism


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. 

  • 1. Knapp et al., The Economic Consequences of Autism in the UK
  • 2. The NAO Report 2009 was commissioned to explore the problems and challenges of supporting adults with autism. The aim of the report was to assess service provision in areas including: health, social care, education, benefits and employment support. The NAO surveyed 150 Local Authorities and their NHS Partners between September 2008 and February 2009. The NAO conducted in-house research and surveyed 1,000 GP's via Doctors.net.uk.

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25 Oct 2017