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First Published Thursday, 16th October, 2008.

Carrickfergus Castle, Northern Ireland

I Exist is the second phase of our think differently about autism campaign. It launched in Northern Ireland on 16 October.


The National Autistic Society Northern Ireland (NAS Northern Ireland) has produced a new report, I Exist: the message from adults with autism in Northern Ireland. You can read the report on our campaign website or download a copy below. It is the only survey of its kind ever conducted in Northern Ireland and reveals the huge gap between the level of need and the support available.


  • *70% of adults in our survey did not have enough support to meet their needs
  • *96% of adults in our survey feel that with more support they would be less isolated
  • *34% had experienced severe mental health difficulties.

The right support at the right time can make a huge difference, but many adults with autism are ignored by local services and often reliant on ageing parents for support. 64% of adults with autism in our survey still live at home.


Autism is a lifelong condition yet our research reveals that 55% of the Northern Ireland public who have heard of autism believes it mostly affects children. It also reveals that 90% of people do not know how common autism is. Autism affects an estimated 1 in 100 people.


Autism also affects adults.
Most are isolated and ignored.
Think. Act. Transform lives.

Many adults with autism face a lack of recognition and understanding, a lack of suitable services and a lack of support, all of which have a devastating impact on adults and their families.


One parent of an adult with autism said:


“My son is socially and economically isolated – he gets no support from his local health service whatsoever. I am his principal carer and I get no support either. I care for him (along with my wife) as best I can. I am almost 59 and I still need a life of my own. We have three other children who need to be cared for and supported.”

Another major issue is that local health and social care trusts do not know how many adults with autism there are in their local area, making it extremely difficult to plan and deliver services to meet their needs.

NAS Northern Ireland coordinator Regina Cox said:

I Exist is the message from adults with autism who want to be recognised and deserve to have their needs understood and fulfilled. This campaign aims to address the problems they face and the barriers which prevent them from getting the right support. We are calling on the Northern Ireland Assembly to think, act, and transform lives.”

Take action now!

It is only with your sustained support that this ambitious campaign will be a success. Email your Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) and ask them to support our campaign.

Visit our campaign website www.think-differently.org.uk/campaign to find out more about I Exist.

For more information, or to request copies of campaign materials, telephone 020 7923 5799 or email thinkdifferently@nas.org.uk

* The term ‘autism’ in this article also includes Asperger syndrome.


Related resources


Relevant documents for downloading



One Response to “Northern Ireland: I Exist Campaign Launches”

  1. learning disabilities Says:

    Great Post!! Thank you very much!

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