Adult Autism rates

The prevalence of autism in the UK adult population has been estimated to be around 1%. In 2010, Stirling and Clackmannanshire local authority schools began to systematically record children with ASD; however there is no national or local data mechanism that records adults with ASD. If we apply the national rate of 1%, this would equate to 790 and 440 adults with ASD living in Stirling and Clackmannanshire respectively (Figure below). The data is taken from the National Autism Services Mapping Project 2013.


There is currently no national database that specifically accounts for people with an ASD diagnosis and there is no integration of local databases across Scotland. It is therefore difficult to give a definitive or accurate indication of people in Scotland with ASD or the range of their needs. Whilst there are elements within statutory returns to the Scottish Government that relate to people with autism, these reflect those individuals who receive services from social work, thereby excluding those who may have a diagnosis but are not in receipt of statutory services.

There is a clear need to develop a central data base that holds information on the number of people with autism, their diagnosis, services received and spend per person, to better inform service planning and delivery. Of the ten indicators for best practice identified in the National strategy for Autism, indicator 5 recommends that services should include data collection processes that “improve the reporting of how many people with ASD are receiving services and inform the planning of these services”.

Data Collection: A Nationwide issue

The Scottish Government has funded The Scottish Consortium for Learning Disability (SCLD) to develop a process for data collection that will improve the reporting of how many people on the autistic spectrum are receiving services in Scotland. A key aim of this project is to improve the quality of data available to service planners and policy makers in order to promote an evidence informed approach to service planning, development and delivery. Timescales for finalising this work have not been defined.