The NAO today published a major report, "Supporting people with autism through adulthood". HOPE, the charity for adults with autism and learning disabilities, sees this important report as a blueprint for improving the lives of people with autism.

Commenting on the report, Caroline Bell, managing director of HOPE, said:

"HOPE welcomes the new NAO report, 'Supporting people with autism through adulthood', which is a critical milestone for adults with autism and their families. The report acknowledges the lack of provision for adults with autism at a national level and highlights the impossibility of adequate provision without accurate assessment of the numbers of people with the condition. Improving the identification rates by just eight per cent could lead to savings of £67 million a year, according to the report. This is a compelling argument for greater collaboration between local authorities and NHS trusts.

"Suitable employment opportunities for adults with autism could lead to massive savings at a national level - up to £9.18 billion according to research cited in the report. The report emphasises that people with autism - from Asperger's through to the combination of autism and learning disabilities - can make a contribution to the UK workforce. The report highlights the obvious economic benefits of employment for people with autism. But the opportunity to work will also help autistic adults lead more fulfilling lives and help overcome the isolation so many of them experience.

"The report highlights the national problem while explaining that often the best and most cost-effective solutions lie at a local level. But for change to take place, local authorities and NHS trusts must better identify people with the condition. At present less than one fifth (18 per cent) of these bodies were able to give precise numbers of adults with low-functioning autism. This concerns me greatly, as this group's level of need is so high.

"I hope the present political turbulence will not deflect attention from the need to create meaningful change for people with autism. With cross-party support for the Autism Bill, which is currently going through Parliament, and today's NAO report, now is the time for action at a national level."

The NAO report, "Supporting people with autism through adulthood", is available at