Better educational support for autistic children could save the Government millions of pounds in the long term, according to the Disabilities Trust.
It costs £1.5 million to care for an autistic person throughout their lifetime, says the charity. However, if autistic children are better supported as they are growing up, many would be able to work and, consequently, would be less of a burden on the state.
The charity is seeking to raise awareness of the condition throughout 2002 as part of Autism Awareness Year. It has produced a video making the case for more resources, entitled Taking up the Challenge. The video has been distributed to politicians and health, education and social services professionals.
Levels of service provision vary widely across the country, says the charity, with many people being misdiagnosed with mental illness rather than autism, or not being diagnosed at all.