Scottish Autism and the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) have been awarded £150,000 from the Scottish Government to help protect the eyesight of people with autism.
The move comes amid concerns that some sight-threatening problems, and their symptoms, may be mistaken for behavioural problems associated with autism. The longer sight loss goes untreated, the more damage it can do.
The two charities will work in partnership with Edinburgh Napier University to develop a ‘vision toolkit’ that will help specialists identify potential problems.
Eleanor Ogilvie, UK development manager with RNIB’s Glasgow-based visual impairment and learning disability team, said: “The needs of people who have visual impairment and ASD are not well understood. They may experience a range of sight loss conditions such as glaucoma, cataracts and uncorrected refractive error, some of which may be associated with ASD or be a natural cause of ageing. But unless managed properly, all can be a source of severe visual impairment.
“In many cases these difficulties can go unidentified because of limited knowledge and understanding on the part of professionals and carers. Often an individual’s abilities or behaviours are attributed to other causes when in fact it is due to a sight problem.”
Charlene Tait, Development Director at Scottish Autism, said: “This is an innovative initiative that can make a significant improvement to the quality of life of people with autism. We hope this project will increase awareness of eye health and vision problems among people on the spectrum and professionals who are involved in their support.”
For more on this story and for more news from Scottish Autism, click here.