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Last Updated: Saturday, 21 May, 2005, 15:09 GMT 16:09 UK
Call for wider autism awareness
Boy drawing
Autism limits the ability to understand relationships
Greater understanding is needed of the different way in which people with autism interact with the world around them, a conference has heard.

More than 50,000 people in Scotland are thought to be autistic.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can limit the ability to develop friendships and understand other people's emotions.

The Scottish Society for Autism's annual meeting in Glasgow heard from both international and UK experts.

Research has suggested that the numbers of people affected by ASD may have doubled over the last decade.

The Evolving Emotions conference featured the latest research into the impact autism can have on individuals' relationships with others.

Awareness message

Professor Peter Hobson presented recent studies into how children with ASD relate to other people.

He told the audience that in order to improve communication with those affected by autism, people need greater understanding of how they interact.

John McDonald, chief executive of the Scottish Society for Autism, said the onus was on non-sufferers to discover what the condition means for individuals.

Mr McDonald added: "Awareness of autism is growing but it is not as widespread as it needs to be."

Other issues discussed included intimacy and sex and problems faced by people with ASD and their non-ASD partners when forming and maintaining relationships.

The event was made up of representatives from local authority education, social work and health departments as well as people of all ages with autism.

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