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People with autism

Last Modified 13/06/2017 12:49:10 Share this page

Introduction

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how people perceive the world and interact with others.

Autistic people see, hear and feel the world differently to other people. If you are autistic, you are autistic for life; autism is not an illness or disease and cannot be 'cured'. Often people feel being autistic is a fundamental aspect of their identity.

Autism is a spectrum condition. All autistic people share certain difficulties, but being autistic will affect them in different ways. Some autistic people also have learning disabilities, mental health issues or other conditions, meaning people need different levels of support.

People with autism experience difficulties in three main areas, which are sometimes known as the 'triad of impairments'. They are:

    • Difficulty with social communication
    • Difficulty with social interaction
    • Difficulty with social imagination

Over the years, different diagnostic labels have been used, such as autism, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), autism spectrum condition (ASC), classic autism, Kanner autism, pervasive developmental disorder (PDD), high-functioning autism (HFA),  Asperger syndrome and Pathological Demand Avoidance  (PDA). This reflects the different diagnostic manuals and tools used, and the different autism profiles presented by individuals. Because of recent and upcoming changes to the main diagnostic manuals, 'autism spectrum disorder' (ASD) is now likely to become the most commonly given diagnostic term.

The National Autistic Society provides a guide to What is Autism?

Facts and Figures

The populations of adults predicted to be living with an ASD in future years are shown in Figures 1 and 2. This shows that the number of people living with ASDs is expected to grow slightly over the coming decade. These tables also show that ASDs are considerably more common in males than females. The group that is expected to have the largest increase in people living with an ASD is males over the age of 75.

Autistic Spectrum Disorders in Adults

Figures 1 - People predicted to have autistic spectrum disorders, males by age

 20142015202020252030
Males aged 18-24 predicted to have autistic spectrum disorders 106 104 95 94 104
Males aged 25-34 predicted to have autistic spectrum disorders 153 155 162 158 148
Males aged 35-44 predicted to have autistic spectrum disorders 149 146 140 151 158
Males aged 45-54 predicted to have autistic spectrum disorders 194 194 175 149 146
Males aged 55-64 predicted to have autistic spectrum disorders 155 158 176 185 169
Males aged 65-74 predicted to have autistic spectrum disorders 135 135 133 133 151
Males aged 75 and over predicted to have autistic spectrum disorders 97 99 112 131 140
Total males predicted to have autistic spectrum disorders 989 991 993 1001 1016

Source: PANSI/POPPI

Figures 2 - People predicted to have autistic spectrum disorders, females by age

 20142015202020252030
Females aged 18-24 predicted to have autistic spectrum disorders 12 12 11 10 11
Females aged 25-34 predicted to have autistic spectrum disorders 17 17 17 17 15
Females aged 35-44 predicted to have autistic spectrum disorders 16 16 15 16 16
Females aged 45-54 predicted to have autistic spectrum disorders 21 21 19 16 15
Females aged 55-64 predicted to have autistic spectrum disorders 17 17 18 20 18
Females aged 65-74 predicted to have autistic spectrum disorders 16 16 16 15 17
Females aged 75 and over predicted to have autistic spectrum disorders 16 16 16 19 19
Total females predicted to have autistic spectrum disorders 115 115 112 113 111

Source: PANSI/POPPI

Emerson and Baines (2010)1 estimate that between 20% and 33% of adults with learning disabilities are also living with an ASD. This gives a range of between 525 and 870 adults living in Blackpool with both a learning disability and an ASD. However, the National Autistic Society states that 'estimates of the proportion of people with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) who have a learning disability, (IQ less than 70) vary considerably, and it is not possible to give an accurate figure', therefore these figure should be treated with caution.

Autistic Spectrum Disorders in Children

Emerson and Baines (2010)1 estimate that, in the UK, between 1% and 1.5% of children have an ASD. Applying these proportions to the mid-2015 under 18 population of Blackpool suggest a lower estimate of 287 and an upper estimate of 430 children living in Blackpool with autism. There is predicted to be little change in the next 15 years to the under 18 population and therefore it is not expected that this prevalence level will change.

Emerson and Baines (2010)1 estimate that between 40% and 67% of children with an ASD are also have a learning disability. This gives a range of between 115 and 288 under 18s living in Blackpool with both a learning disability and an ASD.

National and local strategies

Recommendations

    • Utilise a variety of mechanisms so that a cross section of people on the autistic spectrum are meaningfully engaged in the planning and implementation of strategies and services for people with autism.
    • Ensure that reasonable adjustments are promoted to enable people with autism to access NHS services including primary care or GP services, mental health and acute services
    • Ensure that  reasonable adjustments to Council services are made which improve access and  support for people with autism

[1] http://www.improvinghealthandlives.org.uk/uploads/doc/vid_8731_IHAL2010-05Autism.pdf