Autism is one of the commonest and also one of the most scarcely researched developmental disorders.
The financial impact of autism is only now beginning to be assessed. Research published in 2001 and now being updated suggests that the cost to the UK of autism exceeds £1bn per year, with the average additional lifetime costs for living support and education being estimated at nearly £3m per person.
The emotional impact of autism can be devastating for the families of those affected, and even in the case of high-functioning people with autism levels of mental health problems and depression are high as individuals struggle to cope in everyday society. Whilst autism is not a disease and there are those who argue that people with autism should be regarded simply as different rather than disordered, there is no doubt of the very real distress that autism can cause.