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Imagine a nightmare; you wake up in a foreign country where cannot speak the language, cannot understand the signs, you know nothing of the customs and you are lost.  This nightmare is just a taste of what it is like to have autism.

A complex neuro-developmental disability, autism affects the way a child communicates and relates to the world around them. Latest estimates suggest that around 700,000 people have autism in the UK – roughly one person in every 90.

Untypical and confused social interactions, communication and often restrictive and repetitive behaviors are just some of the challenges which are experienced by autistic children and their families.

Autism is a spectrum condition. This means that the way it manifests itself can vary enormously depending on the individual.

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Autism is an invisible disability. It can potentially make a simple trip to the supermarket terrifying for the child, the family, and the odd unsuspecting passer-by. This is why autistic children and their families desperately need practical specialist help to enable better communication and understanding.

Autism remains a baffling condition even though it has been over 70 years since a name was first put to it. Despite having a major impact on individuals and families, we are still no closer to finding a means of prevention or cure. What science does know is that the numbers of children, young people, and adults that are identified as being on the autistic spectrum are increasing.

This means that even more children and adults with autism, along with their families, still face misunderstanding, prejudice, and discrimination every day of their lives.  Sadly, society finds it difficult to accept that a disability hidden behind an often strikingly handsome face can be so complex.

Key Numbers


Estimated number of people with autism in the UK.

£224 billion

Estimated cost of caring for
people with autism in the UK.


Estimated number of young people in Northumberland with autism.

£120 million

Estimated annual cost of caring for people with autism in Northumberland.

Number 1

Northumberland based specialist early intervention and post-diagnostic centre for autism.


Of parents rated The Toby Henderson Trust support as ‘excellent’.