May 22, 2020, (UK) Belfast Telegraph: Schoolchildren diagnosed with autism in NI increases 82% over last five years https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/schoolchildren-diagnosed-with-autism-in-ni-increases-82-over-last-five-years-39224972.html
Cases of autism in school-age children have increased by 82% in the last five years, a report has found.
One in 24 children of school age here has been diagnosed, according to figures from the Department of Health.
Its report said 12,544 school-aged children are autistic - a prevalence rate of 4.2%. The figures were described as "alarming" by the charity Autism NI. ...
Kerry Boyd, chief executive officer of Autism NI, said these latest figures although alarming, are not unexpected.
"A report was commissioned by the NI Department of Education which warned of this 'autism wave' of diagnosis back in 2002 and this was the motivation for Autism NI's autism awareness lobby at Stormont which led to the establishment of the Autism Act (NI) in 2011," she explained."
Since then we have seen an increase in awareness and understanding of autism, which is being demonstrated within these latest statistics.
The charity chief continued: "For this reason, Autism NI has been lobbying relentlessly over the past 10 years on the urgent need for adequate autism services and a consistent, uniformed approach across all health trusts and education."
She insisted autism services here are now at "breaking point", with the voluntary sector facing increased demand….
"It is therefore left to the voluntary sector to fill this 'void' but due to the level of demand on Autism NI's services and lack of funding available, we are stretched to full capacity with very little statutory funding….”