Imagine a nightmare; you wake up in foreign country where you do not know 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 be locked into the condition known as autism.
A complex 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 social interactions, communication and often restrictive and repetitive behaviour are just some of the challenges that must be addressed 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 such as: echoing words/phrases without context, taking language too literally and not understanding other people’s thoughts and emotions.
Children with severe autism often have learning disabilities: they might not be able to speak, to write or to understand simple conversations. So every individual has different issues and working one-to-one is often vital.
Autism is an invisible disability that is only made apparent by behaviour patterns. It can potentially make a simple trip to Tesco 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 control. Autism remains a baffling condition, and despite having a major impact on individuals and families it remains difficult to define and detect. It is over 70 years since a name was first put to the condition. Diagnosis has improved over this time and so too has awareness. But we are still no closer to finding a means of prevention or a cure.
What science does know is that the numbers of children that are identified as being on the autistic spectrum are increasing.
This means that even more children and adults with autism, along with their parents, face misunderstanding, prejudice and discrimination every day of their lives. Society finds it difficult to accept that a disability hidden behind an often strikingly handsome face can be so severe.
|700,000||Estimated number of people with autism in the UK|
|£24billion||Estimated cost of caring for people with autism in the UK|
|500||Estimated number of young people in Northumberland with autism|
|£120million||Estimated annual cost of caring for people with autism in Northumberland|
|1||Northumberland based charity for young people with autism|
|£160,000||The Toby Henderson Trust annual budget|
|93%||Percentage of parents who rated The Toby Henderson Trust support as ‘excellent’|