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Autism: University Of Cambridge Launch UK’s Largest Ever Study

August 26, 2021

Researchers are looking for 10,000 people to take part in what a university is calling the UK’s largest ever study into autism.

The Autism Research Centre (ARC) at the University of Cambridge wants autistic people and their families to take part.

It want to investigate how genetic and environmental factors affect autistic people in different ways.

Prof Sir Simon Baron-Cohen, from ARC, said there was “an urgent need to better understand” autism.

The Spectrum 10K project will examine the different needs of people with autism, many of whom have additional conditions including epilepsy, anxiety and depression.

‘Postcode lottery’

Prof Baron-Cohen said the research “hopes to answer questions such as why some autistic people have epilepsy or poor mental health outcomes and others do not”.

People of all ages, genders, ethnicities and intellectual capacities will take part in the study by completing an online questionnaire and providing a DNA saliva sample by post.

Autistic participants can also invite biological relatives, autistic or otherwise, to participate.

Autism is a lifelong disability that affects how people communicate and interact with the world.

It is estimated that about one in every 100 people in the UK is autistic.

The project has been backed by comedian Paddy McGuinness, who has three autistic children.

The 48-year-old Top Gear presenter said getting support was “a postcode lottery”.

“One of the biggest things for any parent, who’s struggling as well, who does eventually get the diagnosis, is then it’s kind of a little bit like ‘right, you’ve got your diagnosis, now what?’

“There’s not things in place quickly for parents, I feel, to support them… it just depends on where you live in the country and that definitely needs to change.”

The project is being carried out in conjunction with the Wellcome Sanger Institute and the University of California Los Angeles.

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