To anyone unfamiliar with autism it might be helpful to provide a layman’s guide.

Autism is a combination of three impairments:

  • Slow language development and communication.
  • Rigidity of thought and behaviour.
  • Socialisation difficulties.

Autism can be a hugely debilitating condition. It affects social ability and access to educational resources. It isolates children from their families and peers and prevents them from taking a full role in society. Autistic children are shut out and excluded by their condition, even from their families. Autism occurs throughout the social spectrum and affects all communities. It touches brothers, sisters, grandparents, all of whom find their lives affected. Schools find it difficult to cope with some 5000 autistic children currently in ainstream education in Scotland with only few specialist schools dedicated to children with the condition.

Over the last two decades, the incidence of autism in children has increased from an estimated 1 child in 10,000 to 1 in 100. Currently it is mostly children who are affected but autism is a life-long condition with no known cure and as time passes, the proportion of adults with the condition will increase.

The lifetime cost to society for each autistic child has been estimated at £4.7 Million. This figure excludes the financial cost to the family arising from, for example, loss of parents’ earnings.

For a more scientific overview of autism download our PDF