Here are some facts and statistics about autism, and how it can affect children, adults and their families.  

The term 'autism' is used here to describe all diagnoses on the autism spectrum including classic autism, Asperger syndrome and high-functioning autism.

  • Autism is a serious, lifelong and disabling condition. Without the right support, it can have a profound - sometimes devastating - effect on individuals and families.
  • Autism is much more common than many people think. There are around 700,000 people in the UK with autism - that's more than 1 in 1001. If you include their families, autism touches the lives of 2.8 million people every day. For further information, read How many people have autism spectrum disorders?
  • Autism doesn't just affect children. Children with autism grow up to be adults with autism.
  • Autism is a hidden disability - you can't always tell if someone has it.
  • While autism is incurable, the right support at the right time can make an enormous difference to people's lives.
  • 34% of children with autism say that the worst thing about being at school is being picked on2.
  • 63% of children with autism are not in the kind of school their parents believe would best support them3.
  • 17% of children with autism have been suspended from school; 48% of these had been suspended three or more times; 4% had been expelled from one or more schools4
  • Seventy per cent of adults with autism say that they are not getting the help they need from social services. Seventy per cent of adults with autism also told us that with more support they would feel less isolated5.
  • At least one in three adults with autism are experiencing severe mental health difficulties due to a lack of support6.
  • Only 15% of adults with autism in the UK are in full-time paid employment7.
  • Only 10% of adults with autism receive employment support but 53% say they want it8.

References

1 The NHS Information Centre, Community and Mental Health Team, Brugha, T. et al (2012). Estimating the prevalence of autism spectrum conditions in adults: extending the 2007 Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey. Leeds: NHS Information Centre for Health and Social Care
2 Reid, B. (2011). Great Expectations. London: The National Autistic Society, p7
3  Reid, B. (2011). Great Expectations. London: The National Autistic Society, p18 
4 Reid, B. (2011). Great Expectations. London: The National Autistic Society, p8
5 Bancroft et al (2012). The Way We Are: Autism in 2012. London: The National Autistic Society
6 Rosenblatt, M (2008). I Exist: the message from adults with autism in England. London: The National Autistic Society, p3
7 Redman, S et al (2009). Don't Write Me Off: Make the system fair for people with autism. London: The National Autistic Society, p8
8 Bancroft et al (2012). The Way We Are: Autism in 2012. London: The National Autistic Society