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Department of Health to fund autism study

The Department of Health has revealed plans to fund a new study into the effects of autism on the adult population in the UK after disclosing that not enough is known about autistic spectrum disorders
The Department of Health has revealed plans to fund a new study into the effects of autism on the adult population in the UK after disclosing that not enough is known about autistic spectrum disorders (ASDs).

Professor Gillain Baird, who conducted extensive research in 2006 that showed one in 100 children are affected by autism, will lead the new study, which will be backed by Department of Health funding worth $500,000.

Care services minister, Ivan Lewis, said that people afflicted by autism are too often abandoned by healthcare services, leaving families struggling on their own to provide sufficient support.

"We still don't know enough about autism, but we do know that left unsupported, it can have a devastating impact on those who have the condition and their families," said Lewis. "We don't know how many people have the condition in any given area. That is why I am ordering a study to address this."

Announcement of the new research came after the National Autistic Society claimed it had conducted a survey showing that 63 per cent of adults with autism in the UK feel the government does not provide them with adequate care assistance.

The prevalence study will re-examine previously recorded data to establish the number of people over 18 living with autism and some research will be focused on the transitional period between adolescent and adult life. It is hoped more information can be gained to help improve service planning.

Mark Lever, chief executive of the National Autistic Society, said: "We hope this will mark a turning point in the way that the needs of people with autism are recognised and met."

A research team operating from Leicester University is expected to make a full report in 2009.

8th May 2008

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