Publication of ‘The Prevalence of Autism (including Aspergers Syndrome) in School Age Children in Northern Ireland 2020’

Date published: 21 May 2020

The Department of Health has today published ‘The Prevalence of Autism (including Aspergers Syndrome) in School age Children in Northern Ireland 2020’.

autism report cover

These figures have been extracted from the Northern Ireland School Census collected by the Department of Education.

Key Facts and Figures:

  • The estimated prevalence of autism within the school aged population in Northern Ireland was 4.2% in 2019/20.
  • 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 2019/20 the rate of autism in the most deprived MDM decile was 38% higher than the Northern Ireland average.
  • In 2019/20, 14% of children identified as having autism did not have any special educational needs. Of those with special educational needs, 64% 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 identified with Autism (including Aspergers) by HSC Trust area, Urban/Rural, Multiple Deprivation Measure, gender, school year and special educational needs assessment.
  3. Historically, children with autism were recorded within the special educational needs (SEN) register but from 2019/20 onwards, pupils with a diagnosis of autism should be recorded on the new electronic Medical register. This change gives a more accurate recording of pupils with autism as well as the special support they need in the school but will mean figures from 2019/20 are not directly comparable with previous years.
  4. This publication is available on the Department's website.

    Further information is available from:

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

    Internet: Department of Health
  5. For media enquiries please contact DoH Press Office by email: Out of hours please contact the Duty Press Officer on 028 9037 8110.
  6. Follow us on twitter @healthdpt.

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