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Last Updated: Sunday, 27 June, 2004, 03:59 GMT 04:59 UK
'Quack autism cures must end'
Autism affects thousands of children
A new charity has pledged to stamp out "quack" interventions for people with autism and similar disorders.

The Autism Intervention Research Trust says it will fund studies to see which treatments work and which ones do not.

Geoffrey Maddrell, its chairman, said there was no scientific evidence to support some existing treatments.

He said the charity would also fund research into new ways of treating autism and related disorders, which affect 500,000 Britons.

Scientifically evaluated

Mr Maddrell said independent research was needed to help people with the condition.

"Hundreds of treatments and other methods of intervention are available but few have been scientifically evaluated and there are still large numbers for whom there is currently no effective help.

"In many instances, exaggerated or misleading claims are made for specific approaches.

"In the UK, only 8% of autism research activity is currently concerned with intervention and the new research trust has been established to address this vital need".

We wish the Autism Intervention Research Trust every success in their work
Health Minister Stephen Ladyman

The new charity has the backing of the UK's National Autistic Society.

"With raised awareness of the autistic spectrum, we have seen a marked increase in the number and type of interventions but have very little scientific evidence as to their usefulness," said Richard Mills, its director of research.

"There are also many people affected by autism out there who are struggling to have any kind of quality of life and for whom current ways of working seem to make little positive difference."

The government also gave the new charity its backing.

"We recognise the importance of good quality research into autism and welcome all initiatives which aim to improve our knowledge and understanding of autistic spectrum disorders," said Health Minister Stephen Ladyman.

"We wish the Autism Intervention Research Trust every success in their work."

The BBC's Branwen Jeffreys
"This new research trust wants to end some of the confusion surrounding autism"

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