Autism link to homelessness
Researchers have uncovered anecdotal evidence that disproportionate numbers of rough sleepers have undiagnosed autism.
The suggestion emerged as a by-product of a report for the Communities and Local Government department into the psychological and emotional needs of homeless people.
Robin Johnson, the director of the mental health and housing research agency Robin Johnson Associates and a former mental health social worker for 20 years, said he believed additional research was now needed to find out more about a possible link.
Mr Johnson said during his research it had emerged that ‘unrecognised autistic spectrum disorder may be part of the difficulties these individuals have’. ‘ASD linked to housing is starting to take off as an issue,’ he said.
Anecdotal evidence was discovered by looking at the ‘personalisation pilots’ being carried out on entrenched rough sleepers across the country. The pilots give rough sleepers more control over services and has also seen their lives being looked at in more depth.
The National Autistic Society ran a campaign in February 2008 that found 63 per cent of adults with autism do not get adequate support and without the help from family or friends they could end up homeless.
They often had difficulties maintaining tenancies, the charity found.
Suzi Browne, head of PR and media at the NAS, said: ‘We know people who have autism become homeless, but we don’t know the scale of the problem. We would be interested to know if this is a big problem.’
In the overall population, there is a 1 per cent prevalence of ASD according to the National Centre for Social Research’s adult psychiatric morbidity survey. But ASD in men in social housing was 8 per cent and just over 4 per cent for women