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We Exist: A Bill for Autism, A Bill for Scotland

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a lifelong developmental disability which affects how a person communicates with, and relates to, other people. It also affects how they make sense of the world around them. Asperger syndrome is a form of autism. All people with autism have difficulties within three areas of everyday life: communication, social interaction and social imagination.

Some people with autism are able to live relatively independent lives but others may have accompanying learning disabilities and need specialist support throughout their lives. People with autism may also experience over- or under-sensitivity to sounds, touch, tastes, smells, light or colours.

There are an estimated 50,000 people in Scotland with autism – that is 1 in 100.5 Along with their parents, families and carers, autism touches the lives of over 200,000 people in Scotland every day.

Autism is often referred to as an ‘invisible disability’. 80% of people who have heard about autism are unaware how common it is and 49% do not know that it is a life-long condition.6 The invisible nature of autism is reflected in local service provision. All over Scotland children or adults with autism have difficulty accessing proper care and support.

To help us get a better picture of service provision across Scotland, we surveyed people with autism and their families; 443 people completed the survey and we have used the findings to inform this report.