A report into school autism services has found a far higher prevalence of the condition among school students than previously thought.
The study, carried out for the National Council for Special Education, found that one in 65 school students has a diagnosis of autism. That equates to a total of around 14,000.
Previous estimates were of one in every 100 pupils.
The report has found that the inadequate availability of therapeutic, psychological and psychiatric services for children with autism had "potential negative implications" for student mental health and well-being.
Schools need to be supported adequately, it says.
It finds that teacher knowledge and understanding of autism requires further improvement.
Investment in teacher training is recommended.
The report also recommended that the NCSE be given the power to oblige schools to open up specialised autism units, where a need is established.
An implementation group has been established by the Department of Education to consider the recommendations.