Autistic Children Given Fresh Hope

The Journal (Newcastle, England), March 26, 2005 | Go to article overview

Autistic Children Given Fresh Hope


Byline: By Liz Hands

Life for the 800 children living with autism in the North-East could become easier thanks to a major new research project in the region.

Autism expert Dr Helen McConachie, based at Newcastle University's Medical School, is aiming to develop communication skills between pre-school autistic children and their parents.

The study will involve 50 youngsters from the region ( along with 50 in Manchester and 50 in London ( and now has been awarded pounds 1.5m in funding from the Medical Research Council.

Yesterday, the man heading the project nationwide, Dr Jonathan Green, described it as "the first large-scale intervention study of its kind in autism".

Dr McConachie, who is in charge of the research in Newcastle, said yesterday: "It really could have far reaching consequences for every aspect of life for those children involved. It's all about developing communication and social skills for them to be able to interact with their families, teachers and other children in school, and the rest of the world. The study is about gathering enough evidence so the Department of Health acts on it. Eventually, we want all children with autism to have access to this therapy, providing that it works, of course."

But she is confident the project will have positive effects after running a trial scheme called More than Words last year, which she says led to "a reduction in unusual aspects of social interaction". …

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