I remember thinking there was no support for me as a parent of autistic children, turns out I just didn’t know where to find it. We won’t mention the waiting lists or education but when it comes to support groups and information there is lots out there. Finding it can be hard when you don’t know where to look and that is exactly why I post as much as I can here on The Autism Page.
One thing that keeps coming up is what support is there for autistic adults. This is not an area I am familiar with as my kids are still young but I wanted to pull together what I can so I can at least offer a signpost for anyone looking.
I guess the main issue with any service for autistic adults is the huge range of needs. The spectrum is enormous and you will have nonverbal adults with additional learning difficulties as well as those with Asperger’s. With this in mind I have pulled together a list of services / groups / websites that may be useful to some autistic adults and carers.
Online support for autistic adults
Autistic Not Weird website / blog run by Chris Bonnello a teacher, speaker and author with Asperger’s. https://autisticnotweird.com/
The Autistic Not Weird Facebook Community has over 100k members: https://www.facebook.com/autisticnotweird
National Autistic Society (NAS) Community – online discussion forums for autistic people, families and professionals – https://www.autism.org.uk/get-involved/join-our-community.aspx
The National Autistic Society website has lots of helpful information. https://www.autism.org.uk/
Autistic UK is an Autistic People’s Organisation (APO) – an organisation run by autistic people for autistic people. Autistic UK aims to advance the interests of all autistic people and those with related neurodevelopmental conditions. – https://autisticuk.org/
Auti-Ms: Set up by Sophie McInnes – a new charity raising awareness of females with Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC), they also hold meet ups in the Bristol area. https://www.facebook.com/auti.ms19/
There are lots of autistic bloggers / vloggers out there who can provided peer to peer support. Try searching social media using the hashtag #actuallyautistic there is also a useful list here – https://www.bristolautismsupport.com/actuallyautistic-blog-youtube-bloggers/
Help, Diagnosis and meeting the needs of autistic adults
Your local authority (council) website should explain what services are available to autistic adults. If it is not clear from their website you can ring their information / helpline. Some may offer things like training, day centres, or counselling.
In order to access some services such as day centres or paid carers to assist with day to day life you may need to have a needs assessment done – https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/social-care-and-support-guide/help-from-social-services-and-charities/getting-a-needs-assessment/
The local authority may have a company who provides services to local residents with autism. For example in Bath and North East Somerset that provider is Wellbeing Options – http://www.wellbeingoptions.co.uk/
The process to get a diagnosis as an adult will be different in most areas. A good place to start is to talk to your GP. This post on getting a diagnosis in Bristol may be helpful https://www.bristolautismsupport.com/adult-autism-adhd-diagnosis-bristol/
Many adults have spent most of their life feeling different and not knowing why. A late diagnosis can help understand those differences. This is an interesting news article on late diagnosis – https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-50380411
NHS advice on where to get support https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/autism/support/
Information about employment – https://www.autism.org.uk/about/adult-life/work.aspx
Employment Support in Bristol
Bristol City Council offer work experience placements: https://www.bristol.gov.uk/jobs-training/work-experience-at-the-council
North Bristol NHS run a work placement scheme: https://www.nbt.nhs.uk/careers/career-options/traineeships-sector-based-work-academy
Wecil run a Peer Support employment course: https://www.wecil.co.uk/wecil-launch-free-12-week-employment-course/ Working Together is a FREE 12-week employability course. Participants meet once a week from 10am until 2pm.The course is designed to support people over 18 who identify as disabled or have a long-term health condition. This includes learning difficulties, anxiety, depression or dyslexia. You do not need a formal diagnosis to access the course. The course will help you build practical skills in:
- CV & application writing for jobs and volunteering
- Preparing for interviews
- Developing a peer support system
- Discovering what options you have
Bristol Mental Health can support with interview prep, job applications, requesting reasonable adjustments. They can see people in the community and also offer drop in services at BASS at the Create Centre on certain dates. http://www.bristolmentalhealth.org/services/employment-service/
Bristol Community Learning offer free courses based at community venues: https://communitylearningwest.net/
Whilst autistic children may be eligible for disability living allowance. For over 16s it is personal independent payment (PIP) find out if you are eligible here https://www.gov.uk/pip
Information on other benefits – https://www.gov.uk/browse/benefits
Advocacy support is where a person or organisation will assist you to resolve issues or concerns. Organisations that provide advocacy support –
People First – http://peoplefirstltd.com/
The Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance – https://www.siaa.org.uk/
VoiceAbility – https://www.voiceability.org/
SeAp advocacy – https://www.seap.org.uk/
Charities that support adults with autism
Local charities or groups are best placed to advise you what is available in your area. They might provide information, hold events or regular social events.
You may find a local National Autistic Society group in your area. https://www.autism.org.uk/services/local/about.aspx
A Local NAS group for me is NAS Bristol https://www.facebook.com/NASBristolBranch/
Also local to me the NAS Avon branch supports autistic adults and their families – http://nasavonbranch.webeden.co.uk/home/4592558376
The charity Mind supports people with mental health and or emotional support needs – https://www.mind.org.uk/
The Brandon Trust provided supports to adults with learning disabilities and autism https://www.brandontrust.org/ Services are available in various locations across the UK, including Bristol, Gloucestershire, South Glos, B&NES, North Somerset, and Wiltshire.
Local support groups / social groups in Bristol
A good way to find out what is available locally is to join any local autism Facebook groups and ask. Here are some examples of groups and organisations available that are local to me in Bristol / Bath:
BASS Autism Service for Adults offers 1-1 sessions as well as groups such as mindfulness: http://www.awp.nhs.uk/services/specialist/autism-spectrum/advice-service/
The Hive in Kingswood – http://thehiveavon.org.uk/
Diverse social group https://www.facebook.com/groups/bristolaspergersocialgroup/
Face Filton http://facefilton.org.uk/
Music therapy is available from Musicspace http://www.musicspace.org/
Bristol Inclusive Thrill Seekers Club – https://www.club-bits.com/
For young adults there is:
The Social Skills agency https://socialskillsagency.org/
Nothing Special group http://www.nothinspecial.org.uk/
There are many organisations that offer autism training or information sessions for adults such as The Girl with the Curly Hair https://thegirlwiththecurlyhair.co.uk/
Autism friendly Cinema screenings https://www.dimensions-uk.org/get-involved/campaigns/autism-friendly-cinema-screenings/
Some theatres also offer relaxed performances.
Many sports teams / facilities offer inclusive sessions.
Sunflower lanyard scheme is designed to support people with hidden disabilities like autism in busy places like airports and supermarkets. https://disabilityhorizons.com/2019/08/the-hidden-disabilities-sunflower-lanyard-scheme-that-is-helping-people-with-hidden-disabilities/
I hope this is helpful and do get in touch if you know of organisations / groups that should be included in this list.