The National Autistic Society (NAS) has launched a campaign to highlight the obstacles that often prevent people with autism from black and ethnic minority (BME) backgrounds accessing the support and services they need.

Autism is thought to have the same prevalence across all ethnicities, with about 1 in 100 people in the UK having the condition, meaning that more than 100,000 people in the country who have autism are from a black or ethnic minority community. But despite this figure, individuals and families from BME backgrounds who are affected by autism have told the NAS that they often have to battle to receive appropriate support from their communities and local authorities.

The campaign was formally launched at the House of Commons, where, among others, Diane Abbott, MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington and shadow health minister, spoke.

Following this, the NAS also hopes to carry out the largest ever survey into the experiences of people with autism from BME backgrounds.

Abbott said: “This campaign highlights an incredibly important issue. Many of my constituents from ethnic minority communities struggle to receive the special educational needs support they need for their children and these difficult experiences are replicated across the UK. It’s vital that we do more to understand autism and its impact on black and ethnic minority communities – we hope this campaign is a first step towards a greater understanding and better support.”

Tom Madders, head of campaigns at the NAS, said: “Anecdotally, we know that people with autism from ethnic minority backgrounds face huge challenges. We frequently hear from individuals and families who say that cultural and language barriers prevent them from accessing the support they desperately need.

“But there are no robust statistics to show the true state of affairs for people from BME communities. This needs to be urgently assessed, so that local authorities can properly map out how they can deliver the support and services people with autism need.”