Publication of ‘The Prevalence of Autism (including Aspergers Syndrome) in School Age Children in Northern Ireland - Annual Report 2021’

Date published: 20 May 2021

The Department of Health has today published ‘The Prevalence of Autism (including Aspergers Syndrome) in School age Children in Northern Ireland. Annual report 2021’. These figures have been extracted from the Northern Ireland School Census collected by the Department of Education.

autism annual report 2021

Key Facts and Figures:

The estimated prevalence of autism within the school aged population in Northern Ireland was 4.5% in 2020/21.

There was a significant difference in the estimated prevalence rates of autism between the genders, with males three times more likely to be identified with autism than females.

The Northern Ireland urban population has a statistically significant higher prevalence rate of autism than the rural population.

Using the NI Multiple Deprivation Measure (MDM) ranking, in 2020/21 the rate of autism in the most deprived MDM decile was 37% higher than the Northern Ireland average.

In 2020/21, 14% of children identified as having autism did not have any special educational needs. Of those with special educational needs, 66% were classified at Stage 5 of the Special Educational Needs (SEN) Assessment. 

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 is taken from information collated for the annual School Census. It includes the number of school aged children diagnosed with Autism (including Aspergers) by HSC Trust area, Urban/Rural area, area deprivation (Multiple Deprivation Measure), gender, school year and special educational needs assessment.

3. This publication is available on the Department's website.

4. Further information is available from:

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


5. For media enquiries please contact DoH Press Office by email:

6. Follow us on twitter @healthdpt.

7. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 90 378110.

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