Autism spectrum disorder - Adults with autism 

Adults living with autism 

Autism and public transport

An enactment of the morning journey to work for a person with autism, showing the difficulties that people with the condition can experience on public transport.

Media last reviewed: 06/11/2013

Next review due: 06/11/2015

Caring for an adult with ASD

Many adults with ASD continue to live in their family home and some are cared for by members of their family. Caring for anyone with a disability can be challenging, however, and parents may need additional support.

If you are caring for an adult with ASD, you may consider respite care. This is short-term care provided either in or outside the family home that is funded by the local authority and gives families and carers of people with ASD a break from their daily care routine.

For more information, see a guide to caring and breaks from caring.

Some people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) grow up without their condition being recognised, sometimes through choice.

However, a diagnosis can make it easier to access a range of support services that may be available locally.

It is never too late to be diagnosed with ASD, although it is not always easy because some local NHS authorities do not provide NHS funding for diagnosing ASD in adults.

Read more about diagnosing autism spectrum disorder in adults or see the National Autistic Society website for a range of diagnosis information for adults.

Treatment and support

With a proper diagnosis, adults with ASD may be able to access local autism support services, if these are available in their area. You can search for services for adults using the Autism Services Directory.

The health professionals who diagnosed you with ASD can usually offer more information and advice about the care and support services available to you.

Examples of programmes that may be available in your local area include:

  • social learning programmes to help you cope in social situations
  • leisure activity programmes, which involve taking part in leisure activities (such as games, exercise, and going to the cinema or theatre), usually with a group of other people
  • skills for daily living programmes to help you if you have problems carrying out daily activities, such as eating and washing

Adults with ASD may also benefit from some of the treatments offered to children with ASD, such as psychological therapy and medication. Read more about treating autism spectrum disorder.


Adults diagnosed with ASD can also claim some benefits, such as Personal Independence Payment (PIP). This is the new benefit that is replacing Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for people with a disability aged 16 to 64.

You can find out what benefits for adults with autism you may be entitled to on the National Autistic Society website, or you can visit GOV.UK to read more about benefits.


Adults with ASD can live in all types of housing. Some people may be suited to a residential care home, while others may prefer to live on their own and receive home support. Others live completely independently.

Supported living can work very well for some adults with ASD as it means they can choose a place to live in the community, they can live alone or with other people, and they can get the support they need. They may need 24-hour care, or they may only need help with important tasks for a couple of hours each week.

The level of support an adult with ASD needs is decided after your local authority's social services make an assessment and it is agreed with the person and their carer.

Read more about care assessments.


It can be difficult for people with ASD to find a job. For example, they may find the work environment too noisy, or travelling to work too stressful because of the crowds. Sudden changes in routine can also be upsetting.

However, in the right job and with the right support, people with ASD have much to offer. They are often accurate, reliable and have a good eye for detail. Being in a working environment can help the individual's personal development tremendously.

If you are having problems getting a job or staying in a job, you may be able to access a supported employment programme in your local area. These are programmes that can help you write your CV and job applications, and prepare for interviews.

These programmes can also help you to choose which jobs would suit you and provide training for that role.

Those providing the programme can also 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.

See the National Autistic Society website to find help with getting a job.

Page last reviewed: 18/12/2013

Next review due: 18/12/2015


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The 5 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

Dayan said on 13 November 2014

I have not obtained much help from "outside", but here is my story. I grew up with a constant awareness of being different without being able to pinpoint what my difference is. I was born in the 70s, and in the 80s autism was still an unknown word to most. When I reached adulthood in the 90s, I was like every individual on my own, learning to stand on my two own feet, to make a life. As time went by, it came to dawn that my family had a strong line of autism. First my grandniece was diagnosed, then my son few years later. It was not until through seeing how my son was struggling that I understood that I had been fighting the same battle as he was. He is now dianosed as autistic, ADD and asperger and has been placed into a school where he can now thrive. As for myself, for several years I have struggled desperately with family issues that have brought me close to being fired, as I am losing the war of complying with daily challenges, much induced by my difference. I sought advice from my GP and asked for an assessment. Sadly though, while I am "able" to cope with my undiagnosed status, she would not do anything further for me.
I think I speak from the soul of any undiagnosed person on the spectrum that I feel cornered, abused, blamed, and above all not understood or taken seriously for what I truly am as how I was born with, while all help that is offered on paper and in word is sheer hypocricy and it is just a question of time that we collapse and become statistics.
I truly subscribe that autistic people, to who I am convinced that I belong to, have so much to offer, like everyone else, in the same extent that we are condemned by "normal" standards, wherever they exist, in order to be pushed back to the rim of society.

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dnicoll said on 18 August 2012

I've been really impressed with the support available in Northamptonshire. I'm a 40-something year old male and I was admitted to an acute adult inpatient mental health facility last year with depression, social anxiety and suicidal ideation. The psychiatrist has been wonderful - it took us a little while to get the drugs right but they now work brilliantly. My Occupational Therapy and Psychology support since I was released back into the community have been first class, and it was this that suggested I may have Aspergers. Within 4 weeks of referral I have had the first set of paperwork through and am now waiting for the formal diagnostic meetings to start. I recognise this will take time, as it is a small unit and they are busy, but just having the hint of AS as a diagnosis has helped massively - reading round the subject shows that it explains a lot of my past. My wife has also found that the advice on how to live with and support someone with Aspergers very helpful - it has explained the why and wherefore of how I think much more clearly to her so she understands better, as do I.

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zone_tripper said on 20 December 2011

I cannot speak for others, but my own local mental health trust (Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust) did offer me psychotherapy for anxiety and depression. Based on what I said in those sessions, the psychotherapist suggested that I might have Asperger Syndrome. I was then referred to a psychiatrist, who made a more formal diagnosis. I was then given a report of my assessment. It did not cost me a penny to get diagnosed, as diagnosis was provided free of charge by Kent and Medway NHS and SCPT.

Since then, I have also learnt of Dyspraxia and it seems that I have that as well. (I also have an elderly uncle who is autistic.)

I believe that diagnosis of ASD and related developmental disorders is patchy around the country, but it is improving since the Autism Act was pased in 2009

If anybody is experiencing difficulty getting diagnosed, I would recommend contacting your local NHS Mental Health Trust and ask if diagnosis is available. If so, you may be able to self refer or ask your GP to refer you. Likewise, the National Autistic Society may be able to offer help and advice.

When the PCTs cease to exist, your local GPs (in consortium) will be the ones who dictate how the local NHS budget is spent.

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autismadult said on 26 June 2011

i went to the doctors with my soon to be ex wife to discuss my situation and he was fairly suportive and agreed to try and help me, he wasnt sure who to contact or where to turn but eventually found the right people.

after 2months i recieved a letter saying i would require £2000 to get tested for aspergers i cant remember who the letter was from i think it was a so called aspergers expert .....

i went back to my GP and he said he would contact a psychiatrist and see if they could help and the psychiatrist agreed i needed to be seen by someone , around 5 months past and i didnt hear anything until one day i recieved a letter saying i had an apointment with a mental health assemesement team it didnt say why.

i am still waiting for a letter which i assume with be a detailed report

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kenorb said on 07 June 2011

shabutie: you've right, no diagnostics services for adults in London!

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