Research suggests autism estimates are too low


New research suggests that there are many more children with autism in the UK than previously thought.
About one per cent of primary school children currently have a diagnosis of autism.
But the new study by Simon Baron-Cohen and colleagues at the Autism Research Centre and the Institute of Public Health at Cambridge University estimates that about 1.6 per cent of children of primary school age in Cambridgeshire actually have an autism spectrum condition.
The new study, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, concludes that for every three children currently diagnosed in the UK, there could be two more undiagnosed.
Mark Lever, chief executive of the National Autistic Society, said: “This is important research, which for the first time gives us an estimate of the number of people who don’t have an autism diagnosis but may be in need of support.
“Early diagnosis is crucial so that the right support can be put in place as early as possible to maximise a child’s development.”
And he called for the government to fulfil its pledge to carry out a national study of the prevalence of autism in adults.
He said: “An accurate figure for the number of people with autism across the UK is vital to ensure that there is a sufficient level of services and appropriate support in place to meet people’s needs.”
The charity also called for guidance on diagnosis to be given statutory force in Cheryl Gillan MP’s autism bill. The bill received government backing in May and is due to receive its third Commons reading on 19 June.