Friday, April 18, 2008

Autism Campaign Launches In The South East, UK

Thousands of adults with autism in the South East are isolated and ignored, unable to access the support they need, and are often completely dependent on their families. These are the findings of The National Autistic Society (NAS) I Exist report, which has its South East launch on Thursday 17th April at the BT Centre in London. Media are welcome to attend.

Hosted by the South East regional Partners in Autism, the launch of I Exist signals a new phase in the NAS think differently about autism campaign. The report reveals that nearly two thirds (63%) of adults with autism in England do not have enough support to meet their needs.

Sarabjit Singh, an adult with Asperger syndrome from Hounslow said: "I had a lot of trouble when I was younger trying to 'fit in' and learn the rules; I was finally diagnosed when I was 31, but it's still a struggle to get the help and support I need on a day-to-day basis. The professionals I turned to for help weren't trained in autism and this lack of understanding just makes the situation worse - why should anyone have to get to the point when they are in crisis before health and social services will acknowledge them? Adults with autism have so much to offer, they just need to be given the support and the opportunity - the right help can make a world of difference"

Speakers at the event include Sarah Hewitt, an adult with Asperger syndrome; Murial Zeffert, mother of an adult with autism from Harrow; Jean Rose of the Sussex Autistic Community Trust; and Richard Lane of the Bromley Autistic Trust. London artist David Downes, who has Asperger syndrome, will also be displaying some of his work.

Based on the largest ever survey on the experiences of adults with autism and their families in England, the I Exist report found that:

- Nearly two thirds of adults with autism do not have enough support to meet their needs.
- 92% of parents are worried about their son or daughter's future when they are no longer able to care for them.
- 61% of adults with autism rely on their family financially and 40% live with their parents.
- 60% of parents believed that a lack of support has led to higher support needs later on.
- At least 1 in 3 adults with autism are experiencing severe mental health difficulties due to a lack of support.

Robert Pritchett, NAS South East regional director, who will be introducing the event said: "Autism is a serious, lifelong and disabling condition. Without the right support, it can have a devastating effect on individuals and their families. It does not have to be like this - 'I Exist' is the message from adults with autism who want their needs understood and the barriers to support removed. The right help at the right time can have a profound effect - we are calling on the government to think, act, and transform lives".

The launch event will take place from 4pm - 6pm on Thursday 17th April at BT Centre, 81 Newgate Street, London EC1A 7AJ


- South East regional Partners in Autism includes: Autism London, Berkshire Autistic Society, Bromley Autistic Trust, Brookdale Care, Cygnet Health Care, Eagle House Group, Essex Autistic Society, Hampshire Autistic Society, Hillingdon Manor School, Hill Park Autistic Trust, Jigsaw School, Parents of Autistic Children Together, Prior's Court Foundation, Priory Group, Sussex Autistic Community Trust, and Sussex Autistic Society.

- The statistics are for England only. Separate reports were produced for Scotland and Wales. In England, 1,412 adults with autism (18 or over) and their families/carers responded to the survey.

- 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.

The National Autistic Society is the UK's leading charity for people with autistic spectrum disorders and their families. Founded in 1962, it continues to spearhead national and international initiatives and provide a strong voice for all people with autism. The NAS provides a wide range of services to help people with autism and Asperger syndrome live their lives with as much independence as possible.

The NAS relies on the support of its members and donors to continue its vital work for people with autism. To become a member, make a donation or to find out more about the work of the NAS, visit the NAS website or call the NAS donation line 08702 33 40 40, (national rates apply).

The NAS Autism Services Directory is the UK's most comprehensive directory of services and events for people with autism. Visit to find autism services and support networks in your area.

No comments: