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
  • 15% of all pupils in England have Special Educational needs
  • 30% of pupils with Statements or EHC plans have autism as the primary type of need.


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 2020 of the pupils in England 1,079,000 (12.1%) were identified as having SEN support. An increase from 11.9% in 2019.

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).  Across all schools, the number of pupils with an EHC plan has increased by 8.7%, from 271,200 to 294,800 in January 2020. This represents 3.3% of all pupils, an increase from 3.1% last year. From 2007-2017 this percentage had remained at 2.8%.

EHC plans should be issued within 20 weeks of the initial request for a needs assessment. Only 60% of new EHC plans in 2019 were issued within the 20 week time limit.

Autism is the highest primary type of need for pupils with EHC plans at 30% (82,800 pupils).  Of pupils with SEN support 6.8% have autism as the primary type of need.


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

In January 2020 73.1% of all pupils with an EHC plan are boys. This is a small increase on 2019, when 72.9% were boys.

The gap is slightly narrower for SEN support, with boys making up 64.6% of all pupils with SEN support.

Specialist Schools

In England 1.5% pupils are in specialist schools (excluding independent schools, general hospital schools and pupil referral units).

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

Exclusions 2018-19

The permanent exclusion rate for SEN pupils with an education, health and care (EHC) plan is 0.15, and for pupils with SEN with no EHC plan (SEN support) is 0.32, compared to 0.06 for those without SEN. Persistent disruptive behaviour remained the most common reason for 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.

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. 

Was this article helpful?


  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

  2. Michelle McCain
    24th January 2021 / 3:39 pm

    hi, could you tell please me the name of the author so I can cite the article appropriately?

    • admin
      24th January 2021 / 3:47 pm

      Hi Michelle all posts including this one are written by myself Jade Page unless otherwise stated.

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