Publication of ‘The Prevalence of Autism (including Aspergers Syndrome) in School Age Children in Northern Ireland 2019’

Date published: 09 May 2019

The Department of Health has today published ‘The Prevalence of Autism (including Aspergers Syndrome) in School age Children in Northern Ireland 2019’. These figures have been extracted from the Northern Ireland School Census collected by the Department of Education.

Autism Stats Image

Key Facts and Figures:

  • The estimated prevalence of autism within the school aged population in Northern Ireland has increased by 2.1 percentage points from 1.2% in 2008/09 to 3.3% in 2018/19.
  • There is a significant difference in the estimated prevalence rates of autism between the genders, with males almost four times more likely to be identified with autism than females, which is 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 2018/19, the rate of autism has increased in all the MDM deciles. However, the increase has been more prominent in the most deprived MDM decile. In 2018/19, the rate of autism in the most deprived MDM decile was 58% higher than the Northern Ireland average.
  • The estimated prevalence of autism has increased across all school years between 2009/10 and 2018/19. The greatest increase in the number of children identified with autism occurred in those in Year 9 (aged 13 years).
  • In 2009/10, 74% of children identified as having autism were classified at Stage 5 of the Special Educational Needs (SEN) Assessment. In 2018/19 the percentage of children identified as having autism classified at Stage 5 of the SEN Assessment had fallen to 58%. 

Notes to editors: 

  1. This information was collated by Community Information Branch within the Department of Health.
  1. 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 11 years are presented regionally and by HSC Trusts.
  1. This publication is available online.                                                                                                            
  1. Further information is available from:
Community Information Branch             
Department of Health                                 
Room 11, Annexe 2,                                                                       
Castle Buildings,
Stormont Belfast BT4 3SP

Tel:     (028) 9052 8446


5. For media enquiries please contact the Department of Health Press Office team on 028 9052 0575 or email For out of hours please contact the Duty Press Officer on 028 9037 8110 and your call will be returned.

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