If you care for someone with autism, their wellbeing will be your main concern but don't ignore your own needs.
Getting help and support and the occasional break will be good for you as well as the person under your care.
Benefits and help for carers
Make sure you get the help and benefits you're entitled to.
As a carer, you could be entitled to Carer's Allowance, and the person you care for may be entitled to Personal Independence Payment.
Ask your local authority for a carers' assessment. This determines what help you receive from social services, including respite care.
Call the Carers Direct helpline on 0300 123 1053 (Monday-Friday 9am-8pm, weekends 11am-4pm) for confidential advice on any aspect of caring, including:
- time off
- home support
- going back to work or education
Support for families affected by autism
You can also get advice and support from the National Autistic Society NAS).
The NAS helpline (0808 800 4104) is staffed by trained volunteers, who are all parents of a child or adult with autism.
They know what life can be like for families affected by autism and can talk through any issues, problems or feelings you are experiencing.
Look after your health
Caring for someone can be demanding and affect your own health and wellbeing. If you're physically unwell or feeling that you're not coping, see your GP.
Take a break from caring
Your local authority or local support groups may be able to provide professional home care, so that you can have some time to yourself.
This may be offered for free, depending on your circumstances.
Read more about getting time off from caring, or read the advice from the NAS on short breaks and respite care.
Meet other carers
Many carers find it helpful to meet other people who have had a similar experience and share coping strategies.
There are various types of support groups, including those specifically for the families and carers of people with autism.
The NAS has an autism services directory where you can search for local groups.
Get in touch with carers online on the Talk about Autism forum, the UK's largest online autism community.
Article provided by NHS Choices