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Autism (Adults)

Young men with autism at a desk


Autism or Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC) is a term used to describe a group of lifelong, neurodevelopmental conditions marked by how a person with autism interacts socially, how they communicate and patterns of restricted, stereotyped or repetitive behaviour they may have. It is a lifelong neurological condition: people are born with it, do not grow out of it and it cannot be cured. It is a spectrum condition which means it presents differently in every autistic person.

While all people with autism share common traits, their condition will affect them in very different ways. People with high functioning autism (previously known as Asperger’s Syndrome) have average or above average intelligence and good language skills. Some may be able to function well in school or in the work place, but still have a hard time socialising. Others may find even daily tasks related to independence challenging.

Each person with autism has a distinct set of strengths and challenges and so the ways in which people with autism learn, think and problem-solve can range from highly skilled to severely challenged. Some individuals are able to live independent lives; others will require support at different times in their life and others a lifetime of specialist support.

Autism is not a learning disability or a mental illness. Autistic people can, however, have additional needs including learning disabilities and health and mental health conditions just like anyone else.


Common signs of autism in adults include:

  • finding it hard to understand what others are thinking or feeling
  • getting very anxious about social situations
  • finding it hard to make friends or preferring to be on your own
  • seeming blunt, rude or not interested in others without meaning to
  • finding it hard to say how you feel
  • taking things very literally – for example, you may not understand sarcasm or phrases like "break a leg"
  • having the same routine every day and getting very anxious if it changes

Autism Strategic Group

Professionals sitting round a table

We have set up an autism strategic group which includes people with autism.  The group has members from health, education, social care and voluntary sector providers.  

If you would like to help Peterborough City Council support individuals with autism and have a say about services that are provided, then you can join our group. 

All the meetings are held in accessible venues in Peterborough and take place every three months. Come along and make your voice heard.

If you are interested in joining the Autism Strategic Group, please contact:

Alternatively, if you would like any further information you can call the Direct Payment Support Service and ask to speak to Chris De Wilde on 01733 342683 or

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Autism Alert Card

Feeling self-conscious, worried or concerned when outside the security of your own home? Need something to help you overcome this?

For £5, Autism Anglia offers a credit card-sized Autism Alert Card as a way of boosting confidence and giving peace of mind if encountering emergency situations.

The project was developed in East Anglia in 2007 with the full support of Essex Police and the Suffolk and Norfolk Constabularies.  It has since been adopted by the Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Constabularies and the Bedfordshire Police to make it available in West Anglia also.

We use the card when we go out on trips. It has improved our confidence as parents to go out and about more frequently

The card is designed so that an individual’s behaviour or the nature of their condition can be quickly explained when they find themselves in a difficult or emergency situation.  It also means that behind the scenes lots of work is being done to train the Emergency Services so that they understand what they can do to ease interactions they have with someone who has autism, as sometimes a little knowledge can go a long way.