Autism in the United Kingdom a Growing Issue

CC BY-SA by Thomas Corrie

In the United Kingdom it is estimated that nearly 1 out of 100 children today suffers from autism. While the statistics appear lower than in the United States, it still means approximately 100,000 children today living with autism in the U.K. In addition, half a million family members face the direct effect of the condition. A report from the Office of National Statistics states that the rate of autism in school children is 1 percent. According to the Medical Research Council, 1 out of 166 children under 8 years have autism. The total number of children with a Statement of Special Educational Needs stands at 2.8 percent while the number of children for whom the statement lists autism as a primary requirement has escalated by 5 percent since 2011.

Autism today in Great Britain has become a major problem and like elsewhere is being called an epidemic  A large number of families with autism are living in poverty in the UK. This is due to the huge cost involved in raising a child with such a problem. The divorce rate of couples with autistic children is 60 percent more than the average. According to a study of families facing the problem in the UK, one in three was seen to be single parents. About 11 percent of the people with autistic children are working as full time employees and 70 percent has stopped working due to the absence of sufficient care facilities.

In schools where children with autism come for education, only 22 percent of the teachers have received training in handling autistic pupils. Nearly 71 percent of the children receive education in mainstream schools and the rest in special schools. According to the 2011 survey done by NFER Teacher Voice Omnibus, about 54 percent of the teachers in England feel that they have not received enough training for handling and teaching their autistic students. Over 40 percent of the children with this problem are mocked in their school according to a report by the National Autistic Society.

According to the Department for Education (2012) GCSE and Equivalent Attainment by Pupil Characteristics in England 2010-11, 24.4 percent children with autism secured 5 A*-C GCSEs including mathematics and English in 2010-11, which indicates a 2 percent rise from the previous year. The Office for National Statistics (2001), Census Report & Data Service (2011), MI Reports — Regional Learning Disability/Difficulty Report says that less than 1 in 4 children with autism keep studying beyond school. Nearly 17 percent of young people who are disabled, have been found to report of being reasonably or too unhappy with their life as against those without disability (7 percent) at the age of 19 years.

The Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics from UK, which is a research institute of the University of Oxford, says that 90 percent of autism is caused by genetic factors and 10 percent may be due to environmental factors. A new study on autism research in the UK has been published by the Centre for Research in Autism and Education (CRAE) at the Institute of Education (IOE), London and King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry. The research on autism in the UK is ruled by work on brain, biology and cognition that pays off for 53 percent of autism research on a national scale. Mark Lever, Chief Executive of the National Autistic Society (NAS) has stated: “Stronger involvement from people with autism would also go a long way to achieving a more balanced research agenda, increasing investigation into currently under-researched areas like diagnosis and support services.”