A report published by the National Autism Project

The UK’s failure to base support for autistic people on the best available evidence comes at an unacceptable human and unsustainable financial cost. The challenges are exacerbated by the limited investment in research to fill the many gaps in that evidence. Implementing practices of proven value and increasing investment in research will improve outcomes for autistic people with less waste of scarce resources.

These are the main conclusions of our report,  the most comprehensive on current autism practice ever undertaken in the UK. The report is endorsed by leading charities and experts in the field, and calls for more to be done to shape policy and improve practice in autism.

The title of the report, The Autism Dividend: Reaping the Rewards of Better Investment, encapsulates our view that concerted action to address this failure (as set out in a series of policy and research recommendations) will result in better outcomes for autistic people, and in a more cost-effective way.

The Shirley Foundation established the National Autism Project in early 2015 and asked Professor Knapp and his team to map the existing evidence base and identify clear research gaps. The discovery that the evidence base for the effectiveness of many support practices and interventions in current use was limited or of poor quality led to a shift in focus to whether these offerings were effective and, if effective, whether they made economic sense.

The Shirley Foundation believes that a focus on actions that the evidence shows are
both effective and cost-effective will benefit the autistic community and contribute to a reduction in the huge impact of autism on the UK economy. This is the Autism Dividend.