Autism Anglia and Asperger East Anglia take part in awareness day

Charities have been raising awareness of a condition that is often called 'the hidden disability' in a bid to boost support.

Autism Awareness Day took place yesterday, and both Autism Anglia and Asperger East Anglia say they are striving to support people with the condition and their families, many of whom feel that because it is a condition which cannot be seen it is often forgotton about or misunderstood.

Clive Stobbs, chief executive of Autism Anglia, said the charity supports around 2,500 people with the condition in Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex.

But he estimates there are around 30,000 people with autism in the three counties.

He said: 'It's called the hidden disability because people with autism do not look any different.

'That's why we've helped to introduce a card that people can show if they get into difficult situations and which is recognised by six police forces.

'At the moment statutory support can be very patchy, but we need is earlier intervention to help people when they are young, so they have a far better quality of life.'

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Autism is a condition which affects the function of the brain, and therefore the way that someone interacts with and relates to other people. It is a 'spectrum condition', which means that people are affected in different ways, and to different degrees, with Asperger syndrome a well-known form of autism.

People with autism can have difficulties with social communication, interaction and imagination, as well as issues with sensory stimulation.

Thecla Fellas, children and youth service manager for Asperger East Anglia, said: 'Unfortunately Asperger syndrome is a disability where we feel people fall through the gap because they are not considered to be critical, and there are no services out there for them.

'We have had enormous amounts of funds cut since 2010, but demend is great for our services and we are trying really hard to stretch as far as we can.'