Press Release – Major European initiative to boost understanding of autism

Understanding about autism will get a boost as universities, charities and expert institutions from 14 European countries come together in a major new programme. Autism Spectrum Disorders in Europe (ASDEU) has been funded by the European Commission to research autism diagnosis, prevalence and interventions and to improve care and support for people with autism.

There are thought to be more than one in 100 people in Europe who have autism, including an estimated 700,000 in the UK. Autism is a lifelong condition which affects how a person communicates with and relates to others, as well as how they make sense of the world. It is a spectrum condition which affects everyone differently, meaning that while some people are able to live relatively ‘everyday’ lives, others require a lifetime of specialist support.

The programme’s core objectives are to look at prevalence, early detection, diagnosis and interventions. Alongside this, the programme will be creating an evidence-based framework of good practice to improve the care of adults with autism.

To ensure the programme has a real and lasting impact, institutions and organisations will be working on their specialist areas of expertise and the areas of greatest national need. Findings will be shared as the programme progresses through two international conferences.

In the UK, the National Autistic Society (NAS) will collaborate with the University of Aarhus in Denmark to build on its previous work on autism and ageing.

Carol Povey, Director of the National Autistic Society (NAS) Centre for Autism, said:

“The National Autistic Society is very pleased to be part of the Autistic Spectrum Disorders in Europe programme. It offers a once-in-a-lifetime chance to harness expertise across Europe to increase knowledge decisively about the whole spectrum of this, still misunderstood, disability.

“For the NAS, the programme will allow us to build on and share our existing expertise on autism and ageing. We will also be promoting the programme’s findings to the millions of people who use our website, and follow us on social media or through our magazine.

‘We know that with early diagnosis and the right support and care at all ages, people with autism can live a full life. This programme will help make that a reality for the millions of people in Europe affected by autism.”