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Getting Autism Help

This section is designed to help you if you are autistic or you are the parent/carer of someone on the autism spectrum.


Autism Helpline

If you need immediate, practical help please contact the Autism Helpline on 0845 070 4004.

The Autism Helpline, run by the National Autistic Society, provides impartial, confidential information, advice and support for people on the autism spectrum, their families and carers. It is open Monday-Friday 10 am - 4 pm.


Autism

Autism is a condition that affects how a person communicates with, and relates to, other people. It also affects how they make sense of the world around them.

Individuals on the autism spectrum vary enormously from each other but they all share the two 'core' features of autism: persistent difficulties with social communication and social interaction; restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviour, interests, or activities.

Many people on the autism spectrum also have significant strengths. These may include a good eye for detail, a high level of accuracy and reliability, and an excellent memory for facts and figures.

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Diagnosis

Getting a diagnosis of autism can be a positive thing. It means you have an explanation for some of the difficulties you or your child may be experiencing, and it may also give you access to services and support. 

In the UK you start the process by contacting your GP, health visitor or special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO) who will then refer you on to specialist diagnostic services.

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Treatments

There are many treatments, services and other forms of support used to help autistic people. However there is no one-size fits all solution. Each person on the autism spectrum is unique, with unique needs and abilities. So what works for one person may not work for another. The most effective interventions (the term used by professionals) are personalised to meet the unique characteristics of each individual.

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Best Practice

A number of organisations have published guidance on the best way to include and support people on the autism spectrum.

  • NICE guidance. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence is a UK agency which provides national guidance and advice to improve health and social care. 
  • Professional guidance. A number of organisations have published guidance on autism and related issues which is aimed at specific groups of professionals and service providers.
  • Other guidance. A number of other organisations have published guidance to help parents and carers include and support people on the autism spectrum.

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Rights

As an autistic person (or the parent or carers of a child on the autism spectrum) you have some legal rights, especially if you have a formal diagnosis of autism. This is because the government considers autism to be a disability.

For example, if you are an autistic adult and you live anywhere in the UK you have rights under the Equality Act (2010) or the Disability Discrimination Act (1995). These Acts require employers and service providers to make “reasonable adjustments” in order to ensure they do not discriminate against you.

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Services

The government has made recommendations about the delivery of care to people on the autism spectrum. This includes a recommendation that all staff should work in partnership with autistic people and, where appropriate, with their families, partners and carers. It also recommends that local services should be coordinated by a local autism multi-agency strategy group. For details of your local strategy group please contact your local council.

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Organisations

  • Autism Services Directory. Run by the National Autistic Society, this portal lists thousands of organisations and other resources in the UK.
  • Autism NI - PAPA. Northern Irish not-for-profit organisation which provides a range of services to people on the autism spectrum.
  • Irish Society for Autism. Irish charity which provides a range of services for people on the autism spectrum.
  • National Autistic Society. Charity which exists to champion the rights and interests of all people on the autism spectrum and to ensure that they and their families receive quality services appropriate to their needs
  • Research Autism. The only UK charity exclusively dedicated to research into interventions in autism.
  • Scottish Society for Autism. Scottish charity which provides services, influences policy and practice, and raises public awareness about autism.

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Key Publications

More publications on autism and related issues

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Related Pages

Updated
15 Sep 2016