Learning Disability Today
Supporting professionals working in learning disability and autism services

National Autistic Society petitions government to invest in autistic children’s futures

Representatives from the National Autistic Society (NAS) have delivered a petition to the Department for Education calling on the government to invest in autistic children’s futures in its SEND review, which is expected in the next few weeks.    

Over 40,000 people signed the petition after the charity recently published a report that found that the education system is simply not working for autistic children in England and that parents are facing exhausting and sometimes years-long battles to get support for autistic children in school. 

The report, which is based on surveys of over 4,000 parents, carers, autistic children and young people, in Summer 2021, found:    

  • A quarter (26%) of parents waited over three years to receive support for their child   
  • Three quarters (74%) said their child’s school place did not fully meet their needs – this has almost doubled since 2017   
  • Only one in four parents are satisfied with the special educational needs support their child is receiving   
  • Less than half of autistic children are happy in school   
  • 44% feel their child’s special educational needs are not being met in general   
  • Seven in ten autistic children and young people said school would be better if more teachers understood autism.   

SEND review is an opportunity to fix the education system

There are over 160,000 autistic pupils in schools across England. Over 70% are in mainstream school, with the rest in specialist education, home educated or out of education altogether.  

Caroline Stevens, Chief Executive of the National Autistic Society, said: “No-one should have to wait years for support in school. Yet this is the reality for many autistic children who are falling behind without the right support, facing exclusion or even out of education altogether.  

“The government’s upcoming SEND review is an opportunity to fix the education system, to live up to the promise of the 2014 SEND reforms. This means making sure councils, schools and teachers have the resources they need to support autistic children in their area, including introducing autism training for all school staff.”



Ahead of the publication of the SEND review, we want to understand what your priorities are in this area. If you work in, or adjacent to, SEND please complete this short survey, which will help us to understand the challenges of the sector. 

The results of this survey may also be used for a piece of thought-leadership on the topic. Everyone taking part in the survey will receive a copy of the findings report and be entered into a prize draw to win a £50 Amazon gift voucher.


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