The National Autism Project aims to create a more strategic approach to addressing the challenges of the condition. It has been funded by entrepreneur and philanthropist Dame Stephanie Shirley. This helps people like Ann Harber who will participate in its launch at the House of Lords. Ann has been working with her key worker, Katie Nurse, on improving her communication and vocabulary using iPads, picture dictionaries and interactive schedules. Since they began, Harber has gone from using just 15 words to more than 600 and even gave a presentation at the National Autistic Society’s inclusion and participation conference last year.
Harber is one of around 650,000 people who have been diagnosed as autistic. In June, researchers at the London School of Economics put the annual cost of the disorder at £32bn a year, more than any other medical condition and almost three times that of cancer because it is a lifelong condition that affects more than 1% of the population. Project director, Dr Ian Ragan says: “What we want to do is try and redress the balance by making government aware of the huge costs involved and show how they could better use money to improve the quality of life for people with autism.” Ragan goes on to add “What we want to do is try and redress the balance by making government aware of the huge costs involved and show how they could better use money to improve the quality of life for people with autism.”
Ann’s sister was asked what she thinks of the contribution of the National Autism Project to Ann’s speech “If someone Ann’s age can improve so dramatically then who knows what else is possible. Her abilities were hidden before so we couldn’t be happier with the work she’s done with Katie.”
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