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Are You Autistic? TX: 28 Mar 2018, Week 13

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Autism cases are at an all-time high in the UK – with one in every hundred people thought to have autism. But experts now think the true number may actually be much higher with the situation at ‘crisis point’. A ‘lost generation’ of thousands of adults could be going through life without a diagnosis, missed by a system struggling to understand the condition.

In a one-hour special for Channel 4, Anna Richardson and campaigners Georgia Harper and Sam Ahern, who both have autism, set out to uncover the true face of autism in the UK today. Working closely with charities, experts, and people with autism from across the spectrum, the show will challenge what we think we know about autism.

Anna’s family is one of those living with autism as her nephew has been recently diagnosed.

Trainee human rights lawyer Georgia and artist Sam want to smash apart the myths about the condition and show what people with autism are really like. “Autistic people aren’t broken or weird or anything to be scared of. We’re just ordinary people like you. Our brains are just wired a bit differently that’s all.”

In a unique experiment, a team of world leading experts have agreed to adapt their groundbreaking research exclusively for the programme and test two adults who think they are part of the lost generation and in need of a diagnosis.

Musician and rapper JP Horsley, 38, says: “I think I’m autistic because I’ve always felt different, I’ve just never fit in. I hope this will bring closure on whether I just can’t get over this weird behaviour or whether I have a condition that causes me to be different to other people.”

And 35-year-old mum of three, Joanna Hoskin, adds: “I think I just need to know that I am not weird or rude. I’m aware it might not be autism - it might be something else, it might be social anxiety disorder but whatever it is, I feel at this stage in my life I need to know what it is so I can deal with it.”

Headed up by Prof Francesca Happe of Kings College London, Prof Liz Pellicano of UCL and Dr Anna Remington of UCL, the expert team will break autism down into three main areas of behaviour and will test JP and Jo in each.

Also, in one of the largest ever studies of its kind, the show teams up with renowned autism expert Prof Simon Baron Cohen and the University of Cambridge for an online study of over three quarters of a million people to measure how autistic traits are spread across the population.

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