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(UK) N. Ireland autism update puts rate at one in 17, one in 14 in Belfast

May 21, 2022, BBC News: Autism: Proportion of NI pupils with diagnosis quadruples https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-northern-ireland-61513905

The proportion of schoolchildren with an autism diagnosis in Northern Ireland has quadrupled in just over a decade, according to figures just published by the Department of Health.

Shirelle Stewart from the National Autistic Society NI said many schools were "already struggling to provide the support that autistic children need".

More than 14,000 children between four and 16 have an autism diagnosis.

That is an estimated 4.7% of the school-aged population.

That is up from about 1.2% of pupils in 2009....

The health trust area with the highest prevalence of autism in school-aged children was the Belfast Trust where about one in every 14 children had a diagnosis.
The DoH statistics also show that about one in every 17 pupils in the first years of post-primary school (years eight and nine) is autistic.

RISING STEADILY...

The proportion of school-aged children diagnosed with either condition has been rising steadily in recent years, but the prevalence of autism is over a third higher in the most deprived areas....

Ms Stewart said the year-on-year increase in the prevalence figures "poses a huge problem for an education system already struggling to provide the support that autistic children need"....

A bill to strengthen support services for young people and adults with autism in Northern Ireland was recently passed by Stormont assembly members. ...

An external review of whether support for children with all special educational needs (SEN) in Northern Ireland is "fit for purpose" began in April.

It is expected to take six months and follows a number of critical reports into failings in the EA's support for some pupils with SEN.

Shirelle Stewart of the National Autistic Society said the year-on-year increase in the prevalence figures poses a huge problem