Autism is viewed as a spectrum and like all people, autistic people have their own strengths and weaknesses. The condition impairs an individual’s natural instinct to communicate and form relationships. The autistic person can sometimes withdraw into a world of his or her own.
The degree to which each person 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
People on the autism spectrum may 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, autistic individuals may be disruptive or unpredictable. They may never acquire spoken language, require constant 24-hour care and may be perceived to be living in a world of their own.
Studies indicate that autism is more prevalent than many people think and that around 700,000 people in the UK may be on the autism spectrum – that’s more than 1 in 100(1). Together with their families they make up around 2.8 million people whose lives are affected by autism. In a 2017 study, Loomes and other researchers analysed existing prevalence studies and found that the male-to-female ratio was nearer 3:1 than 4:1 as previously acknowledged.(2)
‘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.”
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.
(2) Loomes R, Hull L, Mandy WPL, What is the Male-to-Female Ratio in Autism Spectrum Disorder? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis, Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (2017), doi: 10.1016/j.jaac.2017.03.013.