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BBC Scotland's Martha Fairlie reports
"Children with Autism are usually unable to communicate normally and suffer learning difficulties"
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Saturday, 8 April, 2000, 18:21 GMT 19:21 UK
Marchers demand autism register

Marchers claim autism is affecting more children
Campaigners aiming to raise awareness of autism in Scottish children have called on the government to investigate the true number of sufferers.

They claim the illness is not being taken seriously enough, and they want to see a want a register of sufferers to monitor an apparent rise in the number of cases in recent years.

It is thought 2,000 children in Scotland are autistic.

But the organisers of a march through Edinburgh on Saturday claim that in the past decade the number of cases has risen from one in every 10,000 children to one in 500.

March organiser Bill Welsh said: "Autistic children. Where were they before? Where were they 10 years ago, they weren't there.

Bill Welsh: Autistic children are in every village
"We've got autistic children in every village, every city, every housing scheme in Scotland, but not only in Scotland in England, Wales, the United States of America."

He added: "Something has happened in our society."

Autistic children are usually unable to communicate normally and may suffer from learning difficulties.

Mitchell Ward, whose daughter Emma is autistic, said the condition dominates their day-to-day family life.

She said: "Everything has to be done round about Emma. You get up in the morning and you have to let her do her things.

Mitchell Ward with Emma: We have to work around her
"Everything at her time, at her pace. Basically we have to work round her all the time."

Scottish National Party MSP Lloyd Quinnan, who has given his support to the campaign, received a letter from the parents asking for better recognition of autism.

The campaign's demand for a national register of every autistic child and adult to be created was repeated so that the disorder can be monitored.

Mr Quinnan said he would try to bring the illness to the attention of the Scottish Parliament over the next few months.

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See also:

18 Nov 99 | Health
Autism link to food intolerance
03 Nov 99 | Health
Disability: Special Report
01 Dec 99 | Health
Autism gene link
03 Apr 00 | Health
Vaccine 'does not cause autism'
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