About autism

What is autism?

Autism is a spectrum condition and affects people in different ways. Like all people, autistic people have their own strengths and challenges. Autism can be diagnosed at any age and affects males and females.

Common symptoms of autism are

  • delayed or absent speech
  • difficulty with; listening, concentrating and understanding
  • frequent repetition of words and phrases
  • taking things literally
  • difficulty sensing and interpreting people’s feelings
  • difficulty expressing feelings
  • over or under sensitivity to sound, touch, taste, smell or light
  • rituals or repetitive behaviours
  • disliking changes to routine
  • difficulty making friends and socialising


Signs of autism in children can be found here Click Here

The prevalence of autism in the general population in East Berkshire is estimated at 1% or 4441 people in 2020 rising to 1.5% by 2039 (6991 people). In contrast the prevalence of autism is significantly higher among those registered with vision and hearing difficulties. Source: Click Here


Autism is something you are born with or first appears when you are very young and cannot be attributed to a single cause. Evidence suggests that autism may be genetic. Autistica discuss some myths about autism here Click Here

How can I help a family member who may have autism?

This animation is a useful visualisation for young people to increase awareness of how other children and families can help them Click Here

Taking a strength-based approach and recognising a person’s support needs includes communication strategies such as help to interpret gestures, emotions, facial expressions, or body language. Speakers at the 2020 international Autism conference with lived experience of autism (Isaacs and Grandin, 2020) highlighted the importance of allowing time for meaning to be developed especially if the person learns through other senses than by sight or sound such as through smell, taste or touch.

Social interaction can be improved by taking a strength-based approach (Prenderville 2020) across a range of areas (communication, skills for self-regulation and planning, practicing taking turns, and developing a peer support group for joint problem solving).

Further ideas can be found in our workshops and short courses.

 Although autism is not a mental health problem some people may also experience anxiety or depression and benefit from further support, assessment or treatment for this.


Professionals who know the child or young person, including health visitors, nursery nurses, teachers, special educational needs coordinators (SENCO), educational psychologist and GPs can refer to the autism team in Berkshire Healthcare Foundation NHS Trust Click Here

Ideally, referrals should come from professionals that know the child best, such as their teacher, special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO) or health visitor.

What to expect at an autism assessment

The autism team have created a video to show parents, carers, children or young people what to expect https://www.autismberkshire.org.uk/autism-diagnosis/

Please note that the processes shown are currently being modified due to COVID19

NICE guidance for autism in children and young people explains the process and standards expected Click Here

Nice guidance for adults can be found here Click Here The adult autism assessment team for Berkshire can be found here Click Here

Talking to your child about autism

The National Autistic Society have written guidance on how to talk to your child or young person about their diagnosis Click Here

Talking to your child’s school about autism

Each school must follow national guidance on the inclusion of children and young people with autism in schools and further educational settings. The National Autistic Society (NAS) has created advice for parents and carers and teachers on a range of educational topics for children and young people who have been diagnosed with autism Click Here

NAS have developed a range of evidence-based courses which are offered locally through partner charities – see the workshops section of this website.

For those needing information, advice or support for Special Educational Needs and Disabilities click on the local authority links in the further support section below

Transition from children’s services to adults’ services

Transition plans are required only in special circumstances if a young person is transitioning into adult services. The plan will be co-created with stakeholders in children and adult services and take account of the young person’s wishes and needs.

This link may help a young person understand what a transition plan is Click Here

NICE guidance on transition can be found here Click Here

The Royal College of Paediatricians also provides guidance on what a good transition plan should contain here Click Here

Further support

You may find the following list of services and voluntary sector groups useful, however inclusion on this website does not constitute a recommendation.

East Berkshire services

  • Autism Berkshire: an autism charity delivering specialist services, training and social and leisure activities throughout the county Click Here
  • Berkshire Healthcare Foundation NHS Trust Autism assessment team for children and young people Click Here
  • Berkshire Healthcare Foundation NHS Trust Autism assessment team for adults Click Here
  • Parenting Special Children; provide specialist parenting support to parents and carers of children and young people with Special Needs, so that they can create positive change in their lives Click Here
  • The Autism Group is committed to supporting and enhancing the lives of young people on the spectrum, their parents, and carers. The group focuses on offering support and social opportunities primarily for those of secondary school age and over, together with parent support and training Click Here

Bracknell Forest Council

Bracknell Forest Council SEND Local Offer: a guide to services available for children and young people in Bracknell Forest with special educational needs and/or disabilities aged from birth to 25. Click Here

Bracknell Forest Council Information, Advice and Support Service: provides confidential and impartial advice, information and support to parents or carers and children and young people who have, or may have, Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) in Bracknell Forest.


Bracknell Forest Community Team for People with Autistic Spectrum Disorder support adults aged 18 and over with a primary diagnosis of autism Click Here

Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead (RBWM)

RBWM SEND Local Offer: provides information on local services and support available for families including children and young people aged 0 – 25 years with special educational needs or disabilities Click Here

RBWM Information, Advice and Support Service: free, impartial, and confidential information, advice and support to children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) up to age 25, and their parents/carers. Click Here

Slough Borough Council

Slough’s Local Offer provides information about services, support and activities for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) aged 0-25 The service covers early years and childcare, education, health and wellbeing, care and support for families and other services in Slough Click Here

Slough SENDIASS – Information Advice and Support Service: a confidential and impartial support and advice service for parents, carers and children and young people (aged up to 25 years) on issues to do with special educational needs and disabilities Click Here

Special Voices – Slough Parent Carer Forum: raise awareness about the rights and needs of children/young people with special needs and to ensure that they and their families are consulted and involved in any decisions made during planning or developing services for them. Click Here

National links for autism

Afasic: support for families of children who have Speech Language and Communication needs, including those resulting from autism Click Here

Autism Education Trust (part of the National Autistic Society): downloadable information for parents and carers as well as for schools and teachers Click Here

Autistica: is a charity which funds research into autism Click Here

Choice Support: social care charity working across England to provide the best possible support to people with learning disabilities, autism and mental health needs Click Here

Communication Matters: is a UK-wide organisation that supports people of all ages who find it hard to communicate because they have little or no clear speech Click Here

NHS Choices: Overview of Autism Click Here

National Autistic Society: the UK’s leading charity for people on the autism spectrum and their families, providing support, guidance and advice Click Here

National Autistic Taskforce: established to give autistic adults a stronger voice, especially those with the highest support needs Click Here

Neuro Diverse Self Advocacy: a not-for-profit organisation by autistic volunteers, offering an online forum and community of neurodivergent people who support each other Click Here

The Curly Hair Project: supports people on the autistic spectrum and the people around them, founded by autistic author Alis Rowe, using animated films, comic strips and diagrams Click Here

National links for disability

Cerebra: children with a brain condition: advice and support on subjects including education, Disability Living Allowance (DLA), toilet training and sleep Click Here

Choice Support: social care charity working across much of England to provide the best possible support to people with learning disabilities, autism and mental health needs Click Here

Contact: for families with disabled children: supporting families with the best possible guidance and information Click Here

Disability Law Service:– free advice via information, factsheets, training courses and telephone and written advice in areas relevant to people with disabilities and their carers Click Here

IPSEA: Independent Provider of Special Education Advice: information and training on the support disabled children are legally entitled to at school, including Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) Click Here

Mencap: The Voice of Learning Disability: information about learning difficulties and learning disabilities related to autism, Down syndrome and other conditions Click Here

Sibs: for siblings of disabled people: Sibs aims to enhance the lives of siblings of disabled people by providing them with information and support, and by influencing service provision throughout the UK Click Here

Sunflower: Hidden Disabilities: information about Sunflower lanyards, increasingly used to  discreetly indicate to people around you including staff, colleagues and health professionals that you have a hidden disability and you may need additional support, help or more time Click Here

The Continence Foundation: treatment, prevention, causes, types and living with continence issues Click Here

Ways Into Work: Supported Employment, Supported Internships, Recruitment and Workplace Support for disabled people Click Here

Mental Health links

Childline: support for children’s metal health online and by telephone Click Here

ACAMH: Association for Child and Adult Mental Health: online portal with professional seminars on topics related to autism and ADHD Click Here

Anxiety UK: supporting people with anxiety, stress, anxiety-based depression or a phobia with downloadable guides and online or helpline support Click Here

CALM: Campaign Against Living Miserably (mental health support for men): a free and confidential helpline and webchat – 7 hours a day, 7 days a week for anyone who needs to talk about life’s problems Click Here

Family Lives: supporting parents and families in crisis: family support services offered through helpline, and offering tailored support around issues such as bullying, special educational needs, and support for specific communities Click Here

Mental Health Foundation: aims to find and address the sources of mental health problems so that people and communities can thrive, to help people understand, protect and sustain their mental health Click Here

The Samaritans: 24 hours a day suicide prevention support online or by telephone Click Here

Young Minds: fighting for children and young people’s mental and emotional health. Support for parents and carers as well as young people Click Here

Mind: mental health charity: provide advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem Click Here

Harmless:  Self Harm Support: a national voluntary organisation for people who self-harm, their friends, families and professionals Click Here

Salvesen Mindroom Centre: Back to School Toolkits for children, parents and carers and teachers Click Here

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