Autism forces family moves

One in 10 parents of autistic children are forced to move home because of a postcode lottery in services for those affected by the condition, says a survey published today.

TreeHouse, an autism education charity, claims that the sparsity of high quality care services are leaving parents feeling "isolated, confused, and judged", and that early diagnosis, offered by only a few local authorities, can make a "dramatic difference to a child realising their potential".

Among those parents disappointed at the discrepancy in the quality of care services are Nick Hornby, the author of About a Boy, whose son, Danny, is autistic. He said yesterday: "When my son was diagnosed with autism there was a total lack of information on what we should do next. It seems that little has changed – and that is a national scandal." TreeHouse found that nearly a quarter of 37 local authorities it approached did not know how many autistic children lived in their areas.

More than half (54 per cent) admitted they did not know how much money they spent on children's autism services, and 81 per cent said they did not employ anyone specifically to look after such services. Seven in 10 local councils could not give specific details of what autism-related training they provided for teachers in state schools.

A separate survey conducted by the charity discovered that while 10 per cent of parents had moved house to get better access to care services, a further 30 per cent said they would consider doing so.