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|Description:||Autism spectrum disorders are lifelong developmental disabilities that affect the way in which a person communicates. They are often linked with learning difficulties. It is estimated that 500,000 families are affected in the UK. Some reports suggest that prevalence of the disorder may be increasing but the research evidence to support this claim is equivocal. For instance, it is not clear to what extent any apparent rise in prevalence rates is due to increasing diagnosis/awareness of the condition. This POSTnote will examine what is known about the causes and prevalence of autism in the UK. It will also include an analysis of the evidence base on which policies for diagnosis and interventions in the social, healthcare and educational systems are made, particularly since the learning needs of autistic children mean that they may require specialised teaching approaches. It will also include research into potential future treatments for autism spectrum disorders.|
|Project Leader:||Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology of the UK Parliament (POST)|