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Northern Ireland: child autism diagnoses double in five years

11 April 2019

The number of children being diagnosed with autism has more than doubled in five years, a BBC investigation has revealed.

In total, 2345 children under 18 were diagnosed as autistic last year, compared with 1047 five years previously.

The latest figures, obtained by the BBC after a Freedom of Information request to all five of Northern Ireland’s health and social care trusts, cover the period between 2013-14 and 2017-18, and include both cases of Asperger’s and autism.

Healthcare professionals and autism charities have pointed to increased awareness as a reason for the jump, which is now putting pressure on services.

Kerry Boyd, head of Autism NI, said: ‘As a result of this exponential increase, many families are not receiving an adequate level of support, particularly in relation to early intervention.’

The report also highlights the number of families waiting for an assessment, and the demand for more support for children in schools.

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