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Autism Prevalence study in Ireland

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Irish Autism Action along with partners from UCC, DCU and Muintearas Lettermore Galway, will be conducting the prevalence study.The group will be using the prevalence protocol which has been developed from the European Autism information Systems (EAIS) project..

Regions that the study will be concentrated in are Dublin, Cork and the Gaeltacht in Galway.

The 18-month project will be conducted by Professor Anthony Staines of Dublin City University.

"By examining how many people have ASD we can better understand how the condition comes about," Professor Staines said. "Armed with that information we will be better able to plan, target resources and improve treatments."

Current figures estimate that one in 166 people in Ireland has an autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) but Irish Autism Action chief executive Kevin Whelan said international evidence pointed to higher rates. He said the establishment of this study was "hugely significant" as the most recent study was in 1984. "It is vital that we know accurately know how many people are impacted by ASD," he said.

"And that is not just confined to those with the condition but their families and friends. As an organisation we are committed to helping everyone on the entire island who is affected."

The announcement was made on April 2 to mark World Autism Day. Irish Autism Action also announced plans for a mobile information unit which will travel around the island raising awareness of autism.

Whelan (IAA) said early detection and intervention was critical for the treatment of people with autism.

"We want to make sure we do right for these children by unlocking that potential and helping them develop to the best of their ability," he said.

Boyzone singer Keith Duffy, whose daughter has autism, said the difference in early diagnosis was immeasurable.

"In years gone past, there were kids that never received any intervention. They are teenagers now and God only knows where they could have been had they received the appropriate help at the right stage of their lives," he said. "The difference can be that they get to the stage of holding down a job and surviving in society."

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