National Autistic Society
We were involved in the ‘I Exist’ campaign, for the National Autistic Society, to improve the lives of adults with autism.
The National Autistic Society is the leading charity for people with autism and their families, and helps around 100,000 people each year. Autism affects around 500,000 people in the UK but while awareness of autism is high (84 per cent), understanding is low.
We produced a campaign built on the concept: ‘I Exist’. We created newspaper adverts, direct mail, an online microsite and a full suite of printed material that was sent to the NAS membership.
The campaign was based on a survey of over 1,400 adults with autism and parents/carers, as well as in-depth interviews with adults with autism and surveys of Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) and local authorities.
Research found that:
• 63% of adults with autism do not have the support to meet their needs
• 60% of parents say that a lack of support has led to higher support needs in the long run
• 33% of adults with autism have experienced severe mental health problems because of a lack of support
• 15% of adults with autism have a full-time, paid job.
The Government was very responsive to the ‘I Exist’ campaign in England.
In May 2008 the Department of Health announced that they would:
• appoint a full-time specialist advisor on autism in the Department of Health
• fund a prevalence study
• fund research into the transition needs of young people with autism
• plan for a national adult autism strategy.
The strategy and Bill are a direct result of the National Autistic Society’s (NAS) ‘I Exist’ campaign, which revealed a stark daily reality for thousands of adults with autism who are isolated and ignored, often dependent on ageing families and unable to access support.