Boy looks anxious

Children and young people with disabilities are at higher risk of experiencing abuse and neglect than those without, but they are less likely to be subject to child protection plans (Ofsted 2012). Research from the US indicates higher prevalence rates of abuse among children and young people with autism than those without disabilities (Mandell D.S. et al 2005).

Children and young people on the autism spectrum can have limited speech and struggle to communicate emotions and needs, making it difficult for professionals to identify signs of abuse and neglect. To help professionals understand more about this, the NAS has produced a range of resources:

Safeguarding Children with Autism training module

An in depth online module that looks at safeguarding children in the context of the legislative framework and addresses how to identify safeguarding issues and how to and support and protect children and young people with autism in various settings.   

Get more details on the course (for which you can also earn CPD credits:

Safeguarding Children with Autism conference

This popular conference was held in January 2015 and featured a number of leading professionals in the field who spoke of the difficulties that safeguarding professionals can face when supporting children with autism and their families.
To view some of the sessions and talks that took place, please click here:

Network Autism

Many professionals working with children on the autism spectrum do so without a close network of support. Network Autism is an online community where professionals can come together, network, share good practice and read the latest autism research and articles. Join our Safeguarding Children with Autism discussion group by clicking on the NA logo.

SPEAK UP EU safeguarding guides

The NAS has also been a part of the European Union funded project SPEAK UP (System for the Protection and Empowerment of Autistic Children as victims of abuse or as Unintentional Perpetrators). This project involved Autism Europe, F.M. Regina Association, CIRENEO, The National Autistic Society, Autismo Burgos, Alpha Foundation and Progetti Sociali working together to produce these useful downloadable guides:

Protecting young children with autism from violence and abuse 
The prevention and reduction of violence committed by children and young people with autism

If you are reading this information from a print-out, you can visit the web page and find out more at

Ofsted (2012). Protecting disabled children: thematic inspection

Mandell, D.S. et al (2005) The prevalence and correlates of abuse among children with autism served in comprehensive community-based mental health setting. Child Abuse and neglect, 29 pp. 1359-1372

Last reviewed: 15 January 2016