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Publication, Part of

Autism Statistics, July 2022 to June 2023

Current Chapter

Autism Statistics, July 2022 to June 2023


These statistics present a group of measures on waiting times for autism spectrum disorder diagnostic pathways, based on the time between a referral for suspected autism and the first care contact associated with that referral.

There are also multiple breakdowns based on the progression and outcomes of those referrals.

Each of these measures contributes to an overall picture of waiting times for diagnostic pathways. The approach is outlined in the methodology section of this publication.

Methodological Change

From the September 2023 publication onwards, the methodology used for the specified measures below within the Autism Waiting Time Statistics will include the following change.

We have changed the way that a referral for ‘suspected autism’ is counted as open.  Previously, open and close dates in the latest submitted version of a referral were used to determine which months the referral is counted as open. Data submitted to MHSDS includes a row of data for each referral for each unique month that the referral is open. After consulting with providers and carrying out some exploratory analysis into how effective providers are at closing referrals in the system and looking into why referrals remain open for a long period of time, we have agreed to implement a change in the logic of how we calculate open referrals in the publication. The new methodology will only count the referrals as open in the months when a row of data has been submitted or flowed. This means we can be sure that the referrals that are flowed each month are definitely active and we can be confident that this number of open referrals provides a more accurate view of this.

For more information on the scope of the Methodological Change please follow this link.

Autism assessments for children and adolescents happen in two types of NHS service, child and adolescent mental health (CAMH) services and community paediatric services which undertake neurodevelopmental assessment. Activity in CAMH services is reported alongside adult mental healthcare activity in the Mental Health Services Dataset (MHSDS) and is included in this report. Activity in community paediatric services is reported through the Community Services Dataset (CSDS). Currently autism assessments are not clearly identifiable in CSDS and so cannot be included at present.

We are exploring developments in the identification of this activity in the CSDS with the intention of including this activity in future reports.

Access the code used to create this report

The code used to create the outputs for this report is available on our NHS Digital GitHub webpage.

Click here to access the code

Key Facts

In June 2023 there were 143,119 patients with an open referral for suspected autism. Of these, 118,223 (83%) had a referral that had been open at least 13 weeks.

In June, 6.3% (7,487) of the patients with an open referral that had been open more than 13 weeks had had a first appointment within the recommended 13 weeks.

There were 10,910 new referrals and 7,194 closed referrals in June 2023. This is an increase of 27% for new referrals and 46% for closed referrals compared to June 2022.

June 2023 also saw 645 patients with a referral for suspected autism receive an autism diagnosis in the month, compared with 452 in June 2022.

Waiting time from referral to care contact dashboard

This tool is in Microsoft Power BI which does not fully support all accessibility needs. If you need further assistance, please contact us for help.

Last edited: 14 September 2023 9:44 am