Family Support FAQs

Is there support available pre-diagnosis?

Yes, Autism NI has supports such as the helpline, support groups and training that are available whilst you are awaiting assessment.  Health and Social Care Trusts and EANI may have different services also. Parents may have to contact the G.P to be referred into these or the local Family Support Hub.

What does it mean to be "on the Spectrum"?

This statement means that you have been diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). It means you will have some level of difficulty in social communication, social imagination, social interaction; you may also have some sensory issues. Each person is an individual and their Autism affects them differently.

How do I choose a school in Northern Ireland that will provide for the needs of my child with Autism?

If you are looking for a suitable school, get in touch with the professional who made your child's diagnosis and ask for their advice. They may not be in the position to recommend a school in particular but their input may inform your choice.   Contact should be made with the school Principal to request a visit.  Additionally, you can talk to your local ASD Advisory Team in EANI and find out what local schools have, to support children with ASD. Talk to other parents about their experiences with the local schools.  For further information please see our Factsheet on 'Tips and Hints on School Selection'. 

Is an individual with Autism entitled to PIP or DLA?

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is a benefit for adults and DLA is in place for children with disabilities. In order to qualify, claimants need to show how the disability impacts on daily living, whether they need care and/or if they have mobility difficulties. The Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB), Advice NI, and Carers NI can assist you further if you require more information. For further information on Disability Living Allowance for a child under 16 and a checklist,  please see our Factsheets on 'Disability Living Allowance for a Child Under 16' and Disability Living Allowance Checklist.

What is an Autism Alert Card?

 The Autism Alert Card enables the holder to identify themselves to others as having an Autism Spectrum Disorder. If an individual with Autism is in a situation where they are nervous or anxious or if they have been approached by the Police or other emergency services, producing the card can give them information they need to know and contact details of someone on their behalf. Application forms for Alert Cards are available here or you can contact Donna on 02890401729 option 1 or email if you have any queries.

Where is the closest Autism NI Support Group?

You do not need a referral to any of our support groups, all parents, carers and professionals will be made welcome pre and post diagnosis. If you would like information before attending the support group, please click here or contact the family support team directly.

What employment opportunities are there for people with Autism in Northern Ireland?

Some individuals with Autism have the ability to find jobs themselves, although organisations such as The Orchardville Society, NOW Project, Disability Action, NIUSE, Appleby Trust, USEL and Specialisterne all provide supported employment. The Disability Officer in your local job centre should be able to advise you of any job opportunities and support your application.

 For more information, please contact our Family Support team on 02890401729 (Option 1)