Each person with autism is different, and the impact their condition has on their life will depend on many factors. These will include the severity of their condition, any additional diagnoses, such as a learning disability or a mental health problem, and whether they display any challenging behaviours.
While some people with autism will need very little extra support, others will need more specialist, even 24 hour, help. Each person with autism is also an individual in their own right, and will have their own likes, dislikes and characteristics just like everyone else, which will also affect the kind of support they want and need.
For some parents, planning ahead for the future is key, while other families prefer to take life a day at a time. There are no rights or wrongs - the key is always working out what works for your son or daughter, to help them achieve all the things they want from life.
Our son has a development delay of around 18 months and communication difficulties, but we've been really pleased with all the progress he's made. He continues to work hard at school and is able to count to 10, identify shapes and identify letters in his name. Not bad for a child who has been labelled as having a severe learning disability!
Once your son or daughter has received a diagnosis, the next step is to think about the services and support your family will need for the future.
Mencap and learning disability
Mencap can offer information, advice and services to people with a diagnosis of autism and learning disability.
- For information and advice about autism and learning disability, contact the Learning Disability Helpline on 0808 808 1111 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Find out more about Mencap's services and the support they can offer, or search for a local group near you.
- Share your experiences with other parents and carers online in our families forums.
- Visit the National Autistic Society's library of resources, which includes an ‘After Diagnosis' booklet and Signpost - a service offering personalised information for you and your child.
- Call the Autism Helpline which is available on 0845 070 4004 from 10am to 4pm, Monday-Friday, or email email@example.com
- The Challenging Behaviour Foundation (CBF) can also offer support and advice if your son or daughter displays challenging behaviours. Visit the CBF website or call their family support line on 0845 602 7885.
- The Health and Social Care Board in Northern Ireland has some publications called the Six Steps of Autism Care, and Autism - A Guide for Families. Visit the HSC website to download the publications.
Be strong and never give up. Also ask for support and help, there is no shame in it. Make sure your voice is heard!
Sue, Jamie's mum
Getting support for the rest of the family is also important. SIBS can help brothers and sisters to come to terms with their sibling's disability. Visit the SIBS website or call 01535 645453.