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 46,000 in the Republic of Ireland. It 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, firstly, to look at prevalence, early detection, diagnosis and interventions. Alongside this objective, the programme will be creating an evidence-based framework to improve the care of adults with autism.
To ensure the programme has real and lasting impact, institutions and organizations will be working on their specialist areas of expertise and the areas of greatest national need and sharing findings as the programme progresses, as well as through two international conferences.
Dublin City University contribution to the project will be in an advisory capacity to the European partners on prevalence measurement as they have recently completed the first autism prevalence study “Autism Counts” in primary school settings across Ireland.
Dr. Mary Rose Sweeney, Senior Lecturer in the School of Nursing and Human Science at Dublin City University said: “For the first time in Europe a standardised method will be used to collect country level data on autism prevalence. This is an important step in understanding the prevalence of ASD across Europe”.
Professor Anthony Staines, Chair of Health Systems Research at DCU said “The work on autism in adult life will put a new focus on a severely neglected group of people, and lead to improvements in their care”