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Autism spectrum disorder

An introduction to what autism is and how it affects people

Find out what the main signs of autism are and if you should get advice

Find out how to get diagnosed as autistic and how a diagnosis can be helpful

Information and advice if you or your child have recently been diagnosed as autistic

Information and advice if you care for an autistic child

Find out which conditions often affect autistic people, what the symptoms are and when to get help

Find out where to get support if you or your child are autistic, such as charities and your council

Information about autism in an easy read format or video if you have a learning disability

People react to a diagnosis of autism in different ways.

For some, it's a relief to find out why they or their child think, feel and act the way they do. For others, it can be a shock.

Try to give yourself time to come to terms with the diagnosis.


  • help and support is available
  • even if things are hard now, they can get better
  • you or your child are still the same person as before
  • autism is not an illness or disease with treatments or a "cure"
  • autistic people have things they're good at as well as things they need help with

You might feel alone when you or your child are first diagnosed.

But there are places you can get support.

You can get help from:

  • local support groups
  • national charities
  • other autistic people or parents on social media and forums
  • your school, college or workplace
  • your local council
  • your GP or the autism assessment team that diagnosed you

Find out about support you can get if you're autistic

Some people find it helpful to find out about other people's stories of autism.

The charity has stories from autistic people and parents of autistic children

You could also search online for autism blogs, videos or books.


Remember, autism is different for everyone. What happened to other people might not be the same for you or your child.

Autism is not an illness. But many autistic people also have other conditions.

These are not always checked for during an autism assessment.

See a GP if you have any concerns about your or your child's health. They can help you get any extra care you need.

Find out about other conditions that affect autistic people

It might help you and your family to find out more about autism.

There can be quite a lot to take in. You do not have to read everything.

You can get trusted information from:

Telling people close to you about your or your child's autism diagnosis can help them understand how to support you.

They may be able to help with:

  • everyday things so you have more time to focus on yourself or your child
  • emotional support

National charities

National Autistic Society

For autistic adults and children, and their families.

Ambitious about Autism

For autistic children and young people, their parents and carers.

The assessment team that diagnosed you or your child should give you information on local support groups.

You can also search for local groups using the National Autistic Society services directory.

Social media and forums

There are many people with experience of autism offering support and sharing their stories on forums and social media.

You do not have to talk to others in online groups, but it can be helpful to look at what they're saying.

A good place to start is the groups run by autism charities. But bear in mind the NHS does not monitor these sites.


Comments on social media and forums are often based on personal experience and should not be taken as advice that would help you or your child.

How to use Facebook if you're new to it.


How to use Twitter if you're new to it.

Forums and communities

You can get support to make things easier for you or your child.

Find out what help is available at:

  • nursery or school – speak to teachers or a special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO)
  • college or university – speak to student support services
  • work – speak to your manager and human resources (HR)

Your local council

You can get some support and financial benefits from your local council.

What's available depends on your situation.

For children and young people

For people under 25, ask your council about their "local offer".

This is the name for the support they provide for young people with special educational needs.

Every council has to have a local offer.

You can also get advice about the local offer from your local special educational needs advice service. Find your nearest information, advice and support (IAS) service on the Council for Disabled Children website

For adults

If you're an autistic adult or care for an autistic adult, ask your council for a needs assessment.

This is an assessment to find out:

  • what problems you're having with everyday life
  • what support or financial benefits you might be able to get

For parents and carers

If you look after someone who's autistic, ask your council for a carer's assessment.

This is an assessment to find out what support or financial benefits you might be able to get to help you care for an autistic person.

Find your local council

If you think you or your child needs help from a health professional, speak to a GP or the assessment team that diagnosed you.

They may be able to refer you to a specialist who can help, such as:

  • an occupational therapist
  • a speech and language therapist
  • a mental health specialist

Symptoms of ADHD include:

  • finding it hard to concentrate and getting distracted easily
  • acting without thinking
  • finding it hard to sit still

People with ADHD may need extra support at school or work. Sometimes they need to take medicine.

Find out more about attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

Dyslexia and dyspraxia

Some autistic people have:

Extra support at school can often help.

Problems sleeping (insomnia)

Symptoms of insomnia include:

  • finding it hard to go to sleep
  • waking up several times during the night
  • waking up early and not being able to go back to sleep

Changing your bedtime routine can often help.

Find out more about sleep and autism from the National Autistic Society

Mental health problems

Many autistic people have problems like:

These conditions can often be treated with talking therapies or medicines.

Learning disabilities

A person with a learning disability may find it hard to:

  • understand new or complicated information
  • learn new skills
  • look after themselves

People with a learning disability often need help with daily life.

Find out more about learning disabilities


Symptoms of epilepsy include:

  • shaking and collapsing (called a "fit" or seizure)
  • staring blankly into space
  • strange smells or tastes
  • tingling in your arms or legs

Epilepsy can often be treated with medicine.

Find out more about epilepsy

Problems with joints and other parts of the body

Some autistic people may have:

  • flexible or painful joints
  • skin that stretches or bruises easily
  • diarrhoea or constipation that does not go away

These can be caused by conditions like joint hypermobility syndrome or Ehlers-Danlos syndromes.

You may need support from a range of health professionals, including a physiotherapist.

See a GP if:

  • you're autistic and think you might have another condition
  • your child is autistic and you think they might have another condition
  • you have another condition and think you might be autistic – if you already see a doctor for your other condition, you could speak to them instead

Find out more