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The University of Southampton

New centre aims to improve the quality of life for people with Asperger’s Syndrome

Published: 11 February 2008

Imagine living in a world where you can’t make sense of the people around you and what they’re talking about. Imagine wanting to make friends with them, but not knowing how to or what to say. Can you imagine how much more difficult your life would be?

This is what a person with Asperger’s Syndrome might experience.


A national centre is being launched in Southampton to offer an assessment and diagnostic service for an estimated 100,000 undiagnosed adults in the UK. This may be greater than the number of lung cancer patients and approximately the same as the number diagnosed each year with heart failure.

The Autism Diagnostic Research Centre (ADRC) will bring together a range of clinical specialities to generate a diagnosis. The Centre will help to identify the strengths as well as the deficits of individuals with this condition, and will give clear recommendations for support.

The National Autistic Society’s (NAS) 'I Exist' report released yesterday found that 63% of adults with autism in England do not get enough support to meet their needs and that 65% of local authorities did not know how many autistic adults they were supporting. It also found that at least one in three adults with autism experiences severe mental health difficulties due to a lack of support.

The Centre is directed by Dr Tony Brown, a consultant clinical psychologist from the University of Southampton. It is served by an interdisciplinary team including consultants in clinical psychology, neuropsychology, forensic psychology, and psychiatry.

Dr Brown comments: ‘The Centre will provide data and information to help identify the specific characteristics of each individual with the syndrome. It will identify an individual’s strengths as well as any deficits, providing a structure for them that will maximise their strengths, promote their skills and help them with social interaction. Ultimately, the ADRC hopes to help individuals ensure they have the right conditions whether at home, work or university, to enable them to live more engaged, safe, and fulfilling lives.’

The Centre was established following a generous donation of seed funding from Roger Brooke, a Trustee of the Southampton University Development Trust.

Asperger’s Syndrome is a neuro-genetic disorder on the Autism Spectrum: the word 'spectrum' is used because, while all people with autism share three main areas of difficulty, their condition will affect them in very different ways. It is a lifelong developmental disorder with no known cure. A person is born with it; it is not caused by their upbringing, and neither is it a learning disability, nor a mental illness.

While some people already cope well living with this condition, many do not. Normal life events such as the breakdown of a relationship or loss of a job can have catastrophic results. This can result in severe mental health issues or even suicide.

The service provided by the clinical team at the ADRC aims to greatly improve the quality of life and the productivity of individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome. It will help individuals, their families, friends, partners, carers, professionals and colleagues to understand and manage their condition.

The Centre, created by the University of Southampton, is set up as a non-profit making company.

Notes for editors

  • Roger Brooke is one of the University’s most significant donors, and has supported many areas of the University, particularly its medical research. Mr Brooke has been a Trustee of Southampton University Development Trust since 2003.

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