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Publication, Part of

Autism Statistics

Experimental statistics

Current Chapter

Autism Statistics


These statistics present the number of new referrals to mental health services for which the referral reason was suspected autism, as well as their waiting times to first appointment. These are Experimental Statistics and are being published to involve users and stakeholders in their development and as a means to build in quality at an early stage.

This publication presents a partial picture of autism as assessments for autism may be undertaken in a variety of care settings. We are working closely with the Autism programme at NHS England to understand how this activity should flow across our mental health and community data sets and how to continue the development of this national reporting.

These statistics are based on a ‘forward model’ approach – this means that we have identified new patients with suspected autism as their referral reason, and then looked forward to the date of their first contact with services. The main limitation of this approach is that there is a reliance on future data to identify whether care contacts have occurred. For this reason, caution should be used when interpreting these statistics and users should refer to the accompanying Data Quality Statement.

The ‘forward model’ shows that there were 17,970 new referrals for suspected autism in the first 3 quarters of 2018-19.

73% of these referrals do not have a first contact date – due to the limitations of the forward model it is not possible to discern whether this is because records have not been updated or because a contact has not yet taken place.

Last edited: 24 July 2020 3:42 pm