Scotland: Population characteristics

Scotland's population size is 5,295,403

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  1. Learning disabilities
  2. Autism

Scotland's Census, 2011, reported 31,712 people who are known to have autism (24,490 males and 7,222 females), which is 0.6% of Scotland's population. Of children aged 0-15 years, 17,348 were reported to have autism, which is 1.9% at this age range. The proportion known to have autism falls progressively with each older age cohort, reflecting the substantial improvements Scotland has made in diagnostic services in recent decades.

Scotland's policy makers, and local health, social, and education commissioners and providers, have to make plans for the whole of Scotland, and for each locality, to support the needs of people with autism. It is therefore important that detailed breakdowns of population characteristics are available.

Population by age and gender

All people
Age Female Male Total
0-15 447,225 469,106 916,331
16-24 315,605 316,883 632,488
25-34 338,720 328,607 667,327
35-44 377,084 357,670 734,754
45-54 402,239 384,517 786,756
55-64 340,491 326,922 667,413
65-74 256,430 225,362 481,792
75+ 250,165 158,377 408,542
All ages 2,727,959 2,567,444 5,295,403
People known to have autism
Female Male Total
3,507 0.8% 13,841 3.0% 17,348 1.9%
1,676 0.5% 6,039 1.9% 7,715 1.2%
636 0.2% 1,753 0.5% 2,389 0.4%
471 0.1% 1,117 0.3% 1,588 0.2%
377 0.1% 890 0.2% 1,267 0.2%
233 0.1% 474 0.1% 707 0.1%
147 0.1% 223 0.1% 370 0.1%
175 0.1% 153 0.1% 328 0.1%
7,222 0.3% 24,490 1.0% 31,712 0.6%
People known to have autism
Age Female Male Total
0-15 3,507 0.8% 13,841 3.0% 17,348 1.9%
16-24 1,676 0.5% 6,039 1.9% 7,715 1.2%
25-34 636 0.2% 1,753 0.5% 2,389 0.4%
35-44 471 0.1% 1,117 0.3% 1,588 0.2%
45-54 377 0.1% 890 0.2% 1,267 0.2%
55-64 233 0.1% 474 0.1% 707 0.1%
65-74 147 0.1% 223 0.1% 370 0.1%
75+ 175 0.1% 153 0.1% 328 0.1%
All ages 7,222 0.3% 24,490 1.0% 31,712 0.6%

Number of people known to have autism by age group

Number of people known to have autism by age group

17,348

aged 0-15 yrs


7,715

aged 16-24 yrs


2,389

aged 25-34 yrs


1,588

aged 35-44 yrs


1,267

aged 45-54 yrs


707

aged 55-64 yrs


370

aged 65-74 yrs


328

aged 75+ yrs


Since the early 2000's the Scottish Government has invested significantly in the development of diagnostic assessment services for children with autism, and there has been an associated substantial increase in the awareness of autism and its features among teachers, the medical profession, and parents. It benefits children to receive an early diagnosis as the additional supports for learning can then be put in place to optimise the child's education. The graphs above reflect these positive changes.

Proportion of people known to have autism by age group

Proportion of people known to have autism by age group compared with the whole population

Number of people known to have autism by gender

24,490

males


7,222

females


Proportion of males by age group

Proportion of males and females by age group

Compare areas

  1. Local Authority
  2. Health Board
  1. Ayrshire & Arran
    Ayrshire & Arran

    1812 / 373712

    0.48%
    Borders
    Borders

    635 / 113870

    0.56%
    Dumfries & Galloway
    Dumfries & Galloway

    953 / 151324

    0.63%
    Fife
    Fife

    2635 / 365198

    0.72%
    Forth Valley
    Forth Valley

    1640 / 297636

    0.55%
    Grampian
    Grampian

    3442 / 569061

    0.60%
    Greater Glasgow & Clyde
    Greater Glasgow & Clyde

    7579 / 1213408

    0.62%
    Highland
    Highland

    2093 / 320298

    0.65%
    Lanarkshire
    Lanarkshire

    3058 / 574637

    0.53%
    Lothian
    Lothian

    4825 / 834350

    0.58%
    Orkney
    Orkney

    176 / 21349

    0.82%
    Shetland
    Shetland

    161 / 23167

    0.69%
    Tayside
    Tayside

    2588 / 409709

    0.63%
    Western Isles
    Western Isles

    115 / 27684

    0.42%

Summary information

0.6% of people in Scotland are known to have autism, that’s 31,712 people


  • Prevalence of autism ranges from 0.4% to 0.8% across local authorities and from 0.4% to 0.8% across health boards.


  • More males than females across all local authorities and health boards are known to have autism.


  • Dundee and Orkney local authorities have the highest prevalence of people known to have autism (0.8%).


  • Orkney Islands health board has the highest prevalence of people known to have autism (0.8%).



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