About Autism

Autism is viewed as a spectrum disorder. The condition impairs a individual’s natural instinct to communicate and form relationships. The autistic person can sometimes withdraw into a world of his or her own.

The degree to which each person is affected varies, but the following characteristics are common:

difficulty with social relationships      difficulty with verbal and non verbal communication      lack of imaginative play      resistance to change in routines      repetitive behaviour      sensory impairment


In its mildest form, people with autism will experience difficulties in engaging with others or coping with day-to-day interactions. They may have repetitive and limited patterns of behaviour and a strong resistance to changes in familiar surroundings and routines. At its most profound, people with autism may be disruptive or unpredictable. They may never acquire spoken language, require constant 24-hour care and may be perceived to be living in a world of their own.

Studies indicate that autism is more prevalent that many people think and that around 700,000 people in the UK may be on the autism spectrum – that’s more than 1 in 100(1). Together with their families they make up around 2.8 million people whose lives are affected by autism.

The lifetime cost for someone with high-functioning autism was found to be £3.1 million and £4.6 million for someone with low-functioning autism’.  (Knapp, M, Romeo, R & Beecham, J (2007), The Economic Consequences of Autism in the UK, Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities, London).  Dr Andrew McCulloch, Chief Executive of the Foundation, said: “These figures illustrate the real cost of autism and give serious weight to the argument that more resources are needed to intervene early and effectively in the lives of those who are affected by the condition…..Early intervention would help individuals with autism and their families experience a better quality of life and reduce the high costs incurred in later years, saving public money.”   The emotional cost of autism to families, and the individual with autism, cannot be measured.

Jigsaw Trust is focused on improving outcomes and increase independence by delivering and promoting excellence in autism education both within the formal school years and into young adulthood and beyond.

Jigsaw runs a number of workshops on Autism, the principles of behaviour analysis, verbal behaviour and other associated subjects – please visit our Workshop pages under the main Training tab.

(1) The NHS Information Centre, Community and Mental Health Team, Brugha, T. et al (2012). Estimating the prevalence of autism spectrum conditions in adults: extending the 2007 Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey. Leeds: NHS Information Centre for Health and Social Care