‘Neurodiversity’ is a term meaning people have different brain types. The term neurodivergent can be used by people who have neurological condition such as, but not limted to: autism, ADHD, dyspraxia, dyslexia and discalculia. It is also common for  neurodivergent conditions to be co-occuring (a person can have two or more conditions).

Autism is a  ‘spectrum’ condition, with a wide range of characteristics, but which nevertheless share some common features in terms of how people learn and process information.

  • Without understanding, autistic people and families are at risk of being isolated and developing mental health problems.
  • Autism is much more common than many people think. It is currently estimated there are around 700,000 people on the autism spectrum in the UK – that’s more than 1 in 1001. If you include their families, autism is a part of daily life for 2.8 million people.
  • Autism doesn’t just affect children. Autistic children grow up to be autistic adults.
  • Autism is a hidden disability – you can’t always tell if someone is autistic.
  • Autism is not something which can be cured, but the right support at the right time can make an enormous difference to people’s lives.
  • According to a survey in 2021, Less than half of autistic children are happy in school. [2]
  • Three quarters of parents and carers (74%) said their child’s school place did not fully meet their needs. [2]
  • There are over 160,000 autistic pupils in schools across England.* Over 70% are in mainstream school, with the rest in specialist education, home educated or out of education altogether. [2]
  • Government figures show that autistic children are twice as likely to be excluded from school either for a fixed period or permanently as pupils with no special educational needs. [2]
  • Seven in 10 autistic children say that the biggest thing that would make school better is having a teacher who understands autism. [2]
  • 70% of autistic young people have mental health problems, compared to 13% of their non-autistic peers [3]
  • Autistic people are four times more likely to experience loneliness and social isolation.[3]
  •  Only 16% of autistic adults in the UK are in full-time paid work [7]
  • The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has published data in 2020 that shows just 22% of autistic adults are in any kind of employment [4]
  • Autistic spectrum conditions are not classed as a learning disability in themselves, however, approximately 20-30% of people with a learning disability also have autism and people with autism are more likely to experience mental health problems. [6]
  • Around 70% of autistic people have at least one physical or mental health issue, including anxiety disorders, epilepsy and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but these are often unrecognised. [6]

[1] What is Autism, National Autistic Society

[2] School Report 2021, National Autistic Society

[3] World Autism Acceptance Week, 2023, National Autistic Society

[4] New Data on the Autism Employment Gap, National Autistic Society

[5] The Autism Act, 10 years on, National Autistic Society

[6] People with a Learning disability, autism or both, NHS England

[7] The Autism Employment Gap, National Autistic Society


Autism in Mind support individuals who are both newly diagnosed with autism or diagnosed during childhood but have been unable to access support or services during their adult lives.

Autism Independent UK helps to increase awareness of autism to the notice of all, together with well established and newly developed approaches in the diagnosis, assessment, education and treatment.

Dimensions supports people with learning disabilities, autism and complex needs out of institutions, helping them lead ordinary lives in their local communities.

National Autistic Society is the leading UK charity for autistic people (including those with Asperger syndrome) and their families.

Contact support families with the best possible guidance and information, bringing families together to support each other, and helping them to campaign, volunteer and fundraise to improve life for themselves and others.

Scope - End the Awkward