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Fears over autism

HALF of primary schools have at least one autistic pupil, according to new figures.

Research by Dr Fiona Scott of Cambridge University suggests that one in 175 Cambridgeshire children has been diagnosed as autistic. This is 15 times more than previously estimated. Other survey findings released this week by the National Autistic Society indicate that autistic children are 20 times more likely to be excluded from school than their peers.

MPs are now calling on the Government to collect figures n autism nationally so teachers and education officers can plan provision more effectively. It is estimated that supporting autistic people costs around pound;3 billion a year. But many parents feel that teachers need more training in how to deal with autistic children.

Autism is a developmental condition which affects social and communication skills.

Details of events linked to Autism Awareness Week are at: www.oneworld.orgautism_uk or the National Autistic Society, tel: 0207 903 3593.

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