Funding for Autism; is it enough?

Since my brother has been diagnosed with ASD; Autism Spectrum Disorder I have noticed a positive change in his personality and his outlook on things in general. He doesn’t say much about University expect it is going well but since telling his university lecturers about his diagnoses I’m not sure if they now have a better understanding of how to teach my brother or how they explain things to him but he seems much happier with his course these days. I’ve also noticed him interacting more on the family group whatsapp messages. To some these things may sound insignificant but for my brother these changes are big steps for him.

Although there is no definite cause of ASD there has been research and studies reporting factors that could contribute to the development of ASD, this could be receiving high doses of  high levels of “male” hormones in the womb to taking antibiotics during pregnancy. During my brothers assessment our mum mentioned she took antibiotics during her pregnancy with my brother for a tooth infection. Aside from the antibiotics she had a normal pregnancy. Were the antibiotics a contributing factor or could it have been something else?

According to an article I recently read on the BBC news website in the UK the cost of lifetime support for a person with ASD is approximately £1.5 million, costs that are much higher than care for a person with heart disease, stroke and cancer combined,  yet only £6.60 person is spent on research. whether a cure can or cannot be found research is important to further understand ASD, both from a person with ASD and a non ASD perspective.

In total autism costs the UK £32 billion per year, looking at things from a financial view point it can seen how early diagnosis, intervention and care can help reduce these costs. Knowing this information yet essential support is still being cut.

In June, the mental health charity Young Minds released the findings of a series of Freedom of Information requests, which showed that 77% of NHS clinical commissioning groups (now responsible for designing local health services in England) had frozen or cut their Camhs budgets between 2013-14 and 2014-15.

If my brother had been diagnosed earlier who is to say how different his school experiences would have been. Although he was entitled to additional support for his dyslexia I don’t believe the school fully understood that the support my brother needed wasn’t just with education but with also trying to understand social dynamics. Teenage years are a confusing, scary time for those of us considered normal, imagine how a person with ASD would feel? The question is should schools be required to provide adequate support for young people with a form of mental illness or whether teachers should be able to recognise certain traits of ASD or any other forms of mental illness?

If budgets continue to be cut the only ones missing out will be those who most need the support.

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