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Autism Spectrum Condition (‘Autism’) is something you are born with. If you are autistic, you will be autistic for life. Being autistic means your brain works in a different way from other people. It is not an illness or a disease. It is a condition which affects how people think and feel, and how they communicate and interact with the world around them.
Autism is a spectrum, which means everybody with autism can experience it in different ways.
Autism can occur with other mental health and neurodevelopmental conditions, such as anxiety, depression, ADHD among others.
The information on this page is for adults who have been diagnosed with or suspect they have Autism. Our page for Autism, Children and Young Adults is under development. Whilst this is in development, please visit Autism Wales for more information.
Some of the signs of Autism in adults can include but are not limited to:
- Finding it hard to understand what others are thinking or feeling
- Avoiding eye contact
- Varied sensory responses, such as high pain tolerance, more heightened sensitivity to colour / lighting / smell / sound
- Struggles with change
- Very keen interest in certain subjects or activities
- Repetitive behaviours and having the same routines every day, and getting anxious if these change
- Taking things literally
- Finds social situations difficult or overwhelming
If you think you may be autistic, see your GP or another health professional. Getting diagnosed can help you understand yourself and can sometimes help you get extra support, if you need it. You may also find the information below helpful.
Self-help advice for Adults with Autism
- Looking after your own physical and mental wellbeing is important. There are simple things we can all do to help look after our mental health. Visit our looking after yourself section for more information and advice.
- There are 5 steps we can all take to look after our mental wellbeing, see if you can incorporate some of our Five Ways to Wellbeing into your everyday life. There you can find some ideas on how to do this, or make up your own.
- Have a look at our self-help resources and courses below to help you better understand and manage autism and your general mental health.
- You may want to join a group to meet with others with a diagnosis of autism, to help you feel less isolated and help you create a support network and develop friendships. Some organisations that offer support groups, are listed in the resources below.
- Many of the support services listed below offer advocacy, information and guidance on training, education, housing, employment and much more.
- If you, or someone you know needs urgent help – go to our urgent help page immediately.
What to do if you think you, or someone you know has autism.
You can speak to your Doctor/GP or another health professional. If you are an adult, live in the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board area, and think that you, or a person you know may be autistic/ on the autistic spectrum, you can self-refer to the Integrated Autism Service in ABUHB. There may be a time between referral and your assessment. You can find more information on the assessment and diagnosis process here: Autism Service – Aneurin Bevan University Health Board (nhs.wales). If you are under a community mental health team, your care co-ordinator will need to refer you to the appropriate professional. While you are waiting for an assessment, you may find the information on Melo helpful.
What will an autism assessment involve?
An autism assessment is completed by qualified specialist clinicians. The way the assessment is carried out can vary, but it will usually involve at least two clinicians carrying out different parts, who will follow national guidelines. Locally, you will be asked to allow up to four hours for the assessment, and can choose between a face to face or a virtual appointment. You will be sent further information on what the assessment includes, with your appointment.
You can bring someone with you, where possible this should be someone who knows you well, and ideally knew you as a child. This is an opportunity for you to ask any questions you may have.
What happens following the assessment?
You will be sent a copy of the diagnostic report. If a diagnosis of Autism is confirmed, you will be offered the opportunity to book a follow up appointment. This will enable you to discuss what this means for you, and what support may be available.
To find out more about autism and how it can be managed, see our resources below.
Or you can contact another approved service / helpline listed below. Some services are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
If you are worried about your mental health and need further help
If the information, advice, resources and courses on this page have not been helpful and/or you think you need more help, there are many free support services available.
If you are worried about your general mental health, contact NHS Mental Health 111 Option 2 . This service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and is free to call from a mobile (even when the caller has no credit left) or from a landline. The service will provide immediate support over the phone to help cope with how you are feeling, and if needed, a referral to mental health services will be arranged.
If you live in the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board (ABUHB) area, and are aged over 18, you can contact your GP surgery to make an appointment with a Psychological Health Practitioner (PHP) or a GP. PHPs are NHS mental health practitioners, that are available at some GP surgeries in ABUHB area, who provide a free service for people experiencing mild to moderate mental health problems. Appointments can be either face to face, or over the phone.
If you are under 18 or worried about someone aged under 18 and need advice/self-referral to local mental health and wellbeing services in the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board area, contact SPACE-Wellbeing.
Or alternatively contact another approved helpline or service. Some services are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Last updated: 28.09.2023