Information for the public

What care and support should I be offered for autism?

What care and support should I be offered for autism?

A number of supportive programmes can help with specific problems you might be having because of your autism. Once you have started the programme professionals should check regularly that it is of benefit.

You may be offered a 'social learning' programme to help you to cope in social situations. It is usually provided in a group, but can be one-to-one with a therapist if you find group activities difficult.

You may be offered a 'leisure activity' programme, which is usually provided in a group of other people who meet regularly but can be done on an individual basis. The programme involves taking part in leisure activities (such as games, crafts, exercise, and going to the cinema or theatre) that ideally should reflect your interests and abilities. There should be support from a therapist.

If you have problems carrying out daily activities, such as eating and washing, you may be offered a 'skills for daily living' programme, which can help and support you to carry out these activities.

If you are having problems getting a job or staying in a job, you may be offered a 'supported employment' programme. The programme can help you to write your CV and job applications, and prepare for interviews. It can also help you to choose which job would suit you and provide training for that role. The programme providers can advise employers about any changes that need to be made to the workplace to suit people with autism, and support you and the employer before and after you have started work.

If you are at risk of being bullied, badly treated or taken advantage of because of your autism, you may be offered a programme to help you cope with such risks (called an 'anti-victimisation' programme). The programme can help to identify and positively change situations in which you are at risk of victimisation, help you to make decisions in such situations and teach you personal safety skills.

You should be offered an 'anger management' programme if you have problems with controlling feelings of anger. The programme can help to identify situations that can make you angry, teach you skills to cope with such situations and teach you relaxation and problem-solving skills.

Skills for daily living programmes are suitable for all people with autism regardless of whether they have a learning disability.

Social learning, leisure activity, anger management, anti-victimisation and supported employment programmes are suitable for people with autism who do not have a learning disability and for those who have a mild to moderate learning disability.

Who can provide care and support?

You can have supportive programmes for autism in the care of a specialist autism team or a mental health or learning disability service. You may also have some support from primary care.

Wherever you have care and support, professionals and other staff should make adjustments to the physical surroundings of the service if possible. This may include making sure that there is enough personal space and natural light (or blackout curtains or dark glasses if you are sensitive to light), rooms have adequate signs, the colour of walls and furnishings is neutral, and fluorescent lighting and noise are kept to a minimum. If staff are not able to change the surroundings, they may offer shorter meetings or regular breaks.

Some people with autism are cared for in a special unit in their local community (called 'residential care'). These should be small units for not usually more than six people and there should also be supported accommodation for people on their own. In residential care, there should be a range of activities both in the unit and in the local community, and the building and surroundings should be adapted to suit people with autism, including space to be alone. Your family, partner or carer should be encouraged to be involved in your residential care, if you agree.

Questions about care and support

  • Why have you offered me this type of programme?

  • What will the programme involve?

  • How will the programme help me? What sort of improvements might I expect?

  • How long will it take to have an effect?

  • What are my options other than the recommended programmes for autism?

  • What will happen if I choose not to have the recommended programmes?

  • Is there a leaflet about the programme that I can have?

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