All the members of the Autistic Advisory Panel, except Dr Wenn Lawson who was in Australia, met at London South Bank University on February 10th with Ian Ragan (Project Director), Elizabeth Vallance (Chair of NAP’s Strategy Board), Hilary Gilfoy (on behalf of Dame Steve Shirley) and Valentina Iemmi (London School of Economics and Political Science). The meeting was divided into two sessions, the first on the project’s aims and the second, following a presentation by Valentina Iemmi, on the methodology and early conclusions of the work being undertaken at LSE. Since the project’s intention is to use economic modelling of cost-effectiveness of interventions in autism, the question of what constitutes effectiveness (benefit) and who defines it took up much of the discussion. The meeting agreed that interventions that led to increased autonomy and communication were the most desirable while those that risked causing physical harm or mental distress were to be avoided. The Panel was keen to stress that definitions of benefit and effectiveness should be those that are relevant to the needs of autistic people. The meeting also identified some areas of intervention which had not previously been considered by the project.
The success of this first meeting in sharing and exchanging views was an important occasion for the project and there is no doubt that it will benefit from a second meeting nearer to the date of publication of the report.