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 families1.
  • 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 1002. If you include their families, autism touches the lives of 2.7 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 autism3.
  • Autism is a hidden disability - you can't always tell if someone has it4.
  • While autism is incurable, the right support at the right time can make an enormous difference to people's lives5.
  • Over 40% of children with autism have been bullied at school6.
  • Over 50% of children with autism are not in the kind of school their parents believe would best support them7.
  • One in five children with autism has been excluded from school, many more than once8.
  • Nearly two-thirds of adults with autism in England do not have enough support to meet their needs9.
  • At least one in three adults with autism are experiencing severe mental health difficulties due to a lack of support10.
  • Only 15% of adults with autism in the UK are in full-time paid employment11.
  • 51% of adults with autism in the UK have spent time with neither a job, nor access to benefits, 10% of those having been in this position for a decade or more12.
  • 61% of those out of work say they want to work13.
  • 79% of those on Incapacity Benefit say they want to work14.


1 Rosenblatt, M (2008). I Exist: the message from adults with autism in England. London: The National Autistic Society, p3, pp5-7
2 Baird, G et al (2006). Prevalence of disorders of the autism spectrum in a population cohort of children in South Thames: the Special Needs and Autism Project (SNAP). The Lancet, 368 (9531), pp210-215
3 Rosenblatt, M op.cit. p37
4 p37
5 p37
6 Batten, A et al (2006). Autism and education: the reality for families today. London: The National Autistic Society, p3
7 p3
8 p3
9 Rosenblatt, M op.cit. p3
10 p3
11 Redman, S et al (2009). Don't Write Me Off: Make the system fair for people with autism. London: The National Autistic Society, p8
12 p6
13 p32
14 p6