Caring for someone with autism can be very demanding and bring its own set of challenges. Everyone on the autism spectrum is different, but most experience difficulty with social interactions and communication, and in how they experience and understand the world around them.
The National Autistic Society has a great video on an introduction to autism for young non-autistic audiences, aiming to raise awareness, understanding and tolerance in future generations.
You may be a parent looking after a younger child with autism, or perhaps you look after an adult. No matter your situation, here are some resources and information that may help you:
Caring for a child with autism:
Looking after a child with autism may mean you might need to spend a lot of time helping your child get the support they need. This can be very stressful and exhausting, so it’s important to remember to take time for yourself for your own health and wellbeing when you can.
Some children find it helpful to meet other autistic children and to learn that they are not alone. The National Autistic Society has an Autism Services Directory lists social groups, after-school clubs and support groups around the UK.
Autism Wessex is a local charity that support for anyone affected by autism, they’re support includes Portfield school for children and young people with autism and associated difficulties aged 3-19, a Community Connection Service that can answer general questions about autism and a Community Support and Residential Service which offers a range of personalised social care services for people with autism and associated difficulties.
The NHS also has a guide for parents looking after a child with autism that you may find helpful.
Caring for an adult with autism:
It may be that your child has now turned 18 and you are still looking after them, or perhaps you look after an adult sibling, relative or friend.
There may be a lot of changes when someone with autism turns 18, they may see different doctors or health professionals or be moving to a different education setting. The NHS has a guide on changing from child to adult care when your child turns 18.
It is important to note that the general rights of parents and disabled children under 18 remain the same. This means that parents still have the right to request an assessment of their child’s needs and the local authority is still under a duty to arrange support and practical assistance in meeting those recognised needs subject to criteria.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has a guide on diagnosing, supporting and caring for adults with autism.
If you are looking after an adult sibling with autism, Sibs is a great website supporting siblings of disabled children and adults. They have handy guides for adult siblings, and support and advice for child siblings.
Adult residential services:
There are different types of residential services your loved one may use as an adult. Residential services provide accommodation and support all year round. Supported living services are for autistic adults who need extra help to live in their own homes or within accommodation, whether as tenants or owner occupiers, living alone, or with others. There is also support in the community through day centres, social groups and more.
The National Autistic Society provide information on these services and where they can be accessed.
Caring for yourself:
When looking after someone else, it’s so easy to put your own needs behind everyone else’s, which can in turn severely affect your wellbeing and health.
Sometimes having the chance to talk to someone about how you’re feeling can really make a difference. Our Here to Talk service allows you to chat with a trained volunteer, most who have personal experience with caring. To sign up, call us on 0800 368 8349, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
If you feel low, anxious or stressed, it may be helpful to reach out to a mental health organisation that can help you. Read our resource page on mental health helplines, webchats and websites.
Advice for young carers and young adult carers:
If you’re under 16 and looking after a sibling or other loved one with autism, have a look at our young carer website for advice and support.