Autism is viewed as a spectrum disorder. The condition impairs a child’s natural instinct to communicate and form relationships. The autistic child can sometimes withdraw into a world of his or her own.
The degree to which each child is affected varies, but the following characteristics are common:
difficulty with social relationships ♦ difficulty with verbal and non verbal communication ♦ lack of imaginative play ♦ resistance to change in routines ♦ repetitive behaviour ♦ sensory impairment
In its mildest form, people with autism will experience difficulties in engaging with others or coping with day-to-day interactions. They may have repetitive and limited patterns of behaviour and a strong resistance to changes in familiar surroundings and routines. At its most profound, people with autism may be disruptive, unpredictable and may be aggressive to others and/or themselves. They may never acquire spoken language, require constant 24-hour care and may be perceived to be living in a world of their own.
Background information on the annual United Nations’ World Autism Awareness Day can be found by visiting our World Autism Awareness page on this site.
Information from the National Autistic Society describes the latest prevalence studies of autism indicating that 1.1% of the population in the UK may have autism. This means that over 695,000 people in the UK may be on the autism spectrum. This figure is derived from the 1.1% prevalence rate applied to the latest UK census figures (2011). Together with their families they make up around 2.8 million people whose lives are affected by autism. The prevalence rate is based on two relatively recent studies, one of children and the other of adults. The prevalence study of children, (Baird G. et al., 2006) looked at a population in the South Thames area. The study of adults was published in two parts, Brugha et al (2009), and The NHS Information Centre, Community and Mental Health Team, Brugha et al (2012). This is the only known prevalence study to have been done of an adult population.
The lifetime cost for someone with high-functioning autism was found to be £3.1 million and £4.6 million for someone with low-functioning autism’. (Knapp, M, Romeo, R & Beecham, J (2007), The Economic Consequences of Autism in the UK, Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities, London). Dr Andrew McCulloch, Chief Executive of the Foundation, said: “These figures illustrate the real cost of autism and give serious weight to the argument that more resources are needed to intervene early and effectively in the lives of those who are affected by the condition…..Early intervention would help individuals with autism and their families experience a better quality of life and reduce the high costs incurred in later years, saving public money.” The emotional cost of autism to families, and the individual with autism, cannot be measured.
Jigsaw Trust is trying hard to improve outcomes and increase independence by delivering and promoting excellence in autism education both within the formal school years and into young adulthood and beyond.
Jigsaw runs a number of workshops on Autism and other associated subjects. Review workshop details.