A recent Autistica report highlighted distressing findings from research in Sweden. The research found that autistic people, taken as a population as a whole, have a lower life expectancy than the overall average. It’s vital we understand if this is also the case in the UK, and if so, that we understand the reasons. The report calls for this to be investigated as a matter of urgency.
From the response on social media and to our Helpline, we know that some of you are understandably upset by this report. We need to stress that this research looks at the autistic population as a whole in Sweden.
The research does not say that autism itself is a life-limiting condition. However, factors affecting the average life expectancy of autistic people in Sweden include the way that autistic people are supported in society, as well as inequalities in access to health care. The research found that suicide and death from epilepsy are higher among autistic adults than among the general population.
It’s important to stress that this report does not change anything about a person’s current state of health. Everyone on the autism spectrum is different and, just as with the general population, life expectancy is dependent on an individual’s health and well-being. The NAS believes it is imperative that the Government acts to ensure that autistic people are not disadvantaged in the health system.
If you have concerns about your own or someone else’s health, you should speak to your GP and make sure they know you, or the person you are worried about is on the autism spectrum.
You can also call our Autism Helpline on 0808 800 4104. If it’s an emergency, you should call 999.
The Government must take action to investigate the situation in the UK. You can sign Autistica’s petition calling for a Government investigation.