Autism Statistics

Autism Statistics

Did you know?

  • 700,000 in the UK are on the autistic spectrum, that’s more than 1% of the population
  • Almost 50% of people with autism have a learning disability
  • 14.6% of all pupils in England have Special Educational needs
  • 28.2% of pupils with Statements or EHC plans have autism as the primary type of need.
  • Pupils with SEN account for 46.7% of all permanent exclusions


In previous jobs I spent a significant amount of time looking at statistics.  Figures can be really helpful to help make an impact when writing business plans, briefings or investment proposals.  The problem with statistics is knowing what you are looking at.  It is fairly easy to find / adapt statistics that say what you want them to. This is why you need to check where statistics come from.

You can be fairly confident when using statistics from official sources such as the UK government website and Office of National Statistics (ONS).  Even when using official statistics make sure you are clear what they are saying. You need to understand what has been excluded from the figures.

Unfortunately, there are not many reliable sources of statistics relating to autism but I have pulled together some statistics mostly relating to education that you may find interesting.

How many people are autistic?

According to the National Autistic Society 700,000 people are on the autistic spectrum in the UK.  There is no official count of people with autism but this is a well-established estimate and if anything it’s likely to be conservative.  This figure represents more than 1% of the population.

Autism Statistics

Almost 50% of people with autism have a learning disability and around a third of people with learning difficulties have autism.

Autism and Education

SEN support & EHC plans

Special educational needs and disability (SEN or SEND) is a legal term.  It details needs of a child who has a disability or learning difficulty which makes it harder for them to learn than other children of the same age.

In January 2018 of the pupils in England 1,022,535 (11.7%) were identified as having SEN support.

If a student has SEN but needs assistance over and above what the school or setting is able to provide or needs to attend a specialist setting they may require an Education Health and Care Plan (EHC).  The number of pupils with statements or EHC Plans has risen to 2.9% (253,680).  From 2007-2017 this percentage had remained at 2.8%.

Autism Statitics

EHC plans should be issued within 20 weeks of the initial request for a needs assessment. Only 64.9% of new EHC plans in 2017 were issued within the 20 week time limit.

Autism is the highest primary type of need for pupils with EHC plans at 28.2% (66,363 pupils).  Of pupils with SEN support 5.7% have autism as the primary type of need.

Autism Statistics


The percentage of boys with SEN support and Statements or EHC Plans is significantly higher than girls.

In January 2018 the number of boys with SEN support was 606,969 (14.7%) compared to 325,790 (8.2%) girls.  For pupils with Statements or EHC Plans 171,526 (4.2%) were boys and 63,859 (1.6%) were girls.

Autism Statistics

Autism Statistics

More men are diagnosed as autistic than women, this is more likely due to diagnostic measures being based on males.  It seems that women with autism can present very differently to men and have a much better ability to hide social impairments, and as such are likely underrepresented in diagnosed individuals.

Find out more about women and girls with autism from the National Autistic Society.

Specialist Schools

In England 1.4% pupils are in specialist schools (excluding independent schools, general hospital schools and pupil referral units).

Of the 1,033 state-funded and non-maintained special schools 673 are approved for the provision type of Autism Spectrum Disorder.

If you live in the West Country you may be interested in my list of specialist schools for the West of England.

Exclusions 2016-17

Pupils with SEN account for almost half of all permanent exclusions (46.7%) and fixed period exclusions (44.9%).  Persistent disruptive behaviour remained the most common reason for permanent exclusions in state funded primary, secondary and special schools – accounting for 2,755 (35.7 per cent) of all permanent exclusions in 2016/17.

In special schools alone, the most common reason for exclusion was physical assault against an adult.  This made up 37.8 per cent of all permanent exclusions.

Find out more about autism and exclusions from the National Autistic Society

Too Much Information

The National Autistic Society campaign ‘Too Much Information’ has lots of helpful statistics about autism.  The report is full of really useful information and statistics, below are a few extracts:

99.5% of people in the UK have heard of autism.  But only 16% of autistic people and their families think the public understand autism in a meaningful way.

84% of autistic people feel people judge them as strange.

28% of autistic people have been asked to leave a public space because of behaviour associated with their autism

79% of autistic people and 70% of their families feel socially isolated

If you have found this post helpful you may want to sign up to my free monthly newsletter.  If you sign up now you will get my free guide to the top autism therapies for young children.

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Let me know what autism statistics you would like to see in the future.

Data Sources

The source of data in this post is the National Autistic Society and The Department Of Education.

Department of Education Special Educational Needs Statistics and Exclusion Statistics. 


  1. Lesley Trundle
    1st November 2018 / 9:01 am

    There appear to be no sats regarding ASD and Mental Health Issues, e.g anxiety, depression.

    • admin
      1st November 2018 / 9:14 am

      Thanks Lesley. I will look into this xx

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