'The Prevalence of Autism (including Aspergers Syndrome) in School Age Children in Northern Ireland 2017'

Date published: 15 June 2017

The Department of Health has today published ‘The Prevalence of Autism (including Aspergers Syndrome) in School age Children in Northern Ireland 2017’. These figures have been extracted from the Northern Ireland School Census collected by the Department of Education.

Statistical press release

Key Facts and Figures:

  • The estimated prevalence of autism within the school aged population in Northern Ireland has increased by 1.3 percentage points from 1.2% in 2008/09 to 2.5% in 2016/17.
  • There is a significant difference in the estimated prevalence rates of autism between the genders, with males four times more likely to be identified with autism than females, in line with international findings.
  • The Northern Ireland urban population has a statistically significant higher prevalence rate than the rural population.
  • Using the NI Multiple Deprivation Measure (MDM) ranking, from 2008/09 to 2013/14, the rate of autism in the least deprived MDM decile was higher than the most deprived MDM decile. However, by 2016/17, the rate of autism in the most deprived MDM decile was 47% higher than the least deprived MDM decile, and 42% higher than the Northern Ireland average.
  • The estimated prevalence of autism has increased across all school years, between 2009/10 and 2016/17, with the greatest increase in the number of children identified with autism occurring in the oldest (Year 12 – Aged 16 years old) group of children.
  • In 2009/10, 74% of children identified as having autism were classified at Stage 5 of the Special Educational Needs (SEN) Assessment. In 2016/17, the percentage of children identified as having autism classified at Stage 5 of the SEN Assessment had fallen to 63%. 

Notes to editors: 

1. This information was collated by Community Information Branch within the Department of Health.

2. Statistics detailed within the publication were sourced from the Department of Education and include the number of school aged children identified with Autism (including Aspergers) by HSC Trust area, Urban/Rural, Multiple Deprivation Measure, gender, school year and special educational needs assessment. Trend analyses for seven years are presented regionally and by HSC Trusts.

3. This publication is available online.

4. Further information is available from:

Community Information Branch   
Department of Health                 
Room 11, Annexe 2,                                                    
Castle Buildings,
Belfast  BT4 3SP

Tel: (028) 90 528446
Fax: (028) 90 523288

E-mail: cib@health-ni.gov.uk

Internet: Department of Health

5. Media enquiries about this press release to DoH Press Office 028 9052 0505, or out of office hours contact to Duty Press Officer via pager number 07623 974383 and your call will be returned. Follow us on Twitter @healthdpt

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