Prof Karola Dillenburger, Dr Lyn McKerr and Dr Julie-Ann Jordan (QUB)
Autism rates in Northern Ireland are rising by 0.2 annually and now stand at 2.3% in the school population. The cost to society for autism is £34billion in the UK, more than cancer, strokes, and heart disease combined; 36% of this cost is for adult services. The NI government has invested heavily in autism diagnosis and autism services. However, services are still not meeting the needs of those directly affected by autism and their families; and there is a feeling that the money is not always spent wisely. A major study was funded by OFMDFM (2012-2016) to explore poverty and social exclusion of children and adults affected by autism and their families, and to make policy and practice recommendations.
In this presentation we will present data from all 4 phases of this study:
- A thorough literature review exposed gaps in service provision;
- An adult population survey (NILTS autism module) identified levels of autism awareness and attitudes;
- A comprehensive secondary data analysis of existing data banks exposed levels of poverty and deprivation; and,
- Detailed qualitative data analysis looked at staff training and gave voice to those on the autism spectrum and their families. Data from the research will be reported and recommendations outlined, including making cost-savings.