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Autism

Volume 457: debated on Tuesday 6 March 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what estimate her Department has made of the number of (a) males and (b) females diagnosed as autistic; (124696)

(2) what steps her Department is taking jointly with local authorities to support people with autism.

The Department does not collect data on the number of people diagnosed as autistic.

Data from Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) for 2005-06 identified 10,355 finished consultant episodes with a diagnosis of pervasive development disorder (autistic spectrum disorder). Of these 7,575 were male and 2,780 were female. It is important to note that HES data represent patients admitted to national health service hospitals only and that figures are for episodes of care rather than the number of patients.

“Better Services for People with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder: A Note Clarifying Current Government Policy and Describing Good Practice” was published on 16 November 2006. A copy has been placed in the Library. This document clarifies the nature and intent of existing Government policy as it relates to adults with an autistic spectrum disorder (ASD). It is intended to encourage people in the social care and health field to develop local agendas for action. It does not develop new policy but explains what existing policy means for local commissioners and providers in terms of Government expectations for the delivery of public services for people with an ASD.