Adults living with autism 

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.

Benefits

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.

Accommodation

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.

Employment

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.




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.

Page last reviewed: 18/12/2013

Next review due: 18/12/2015