Some children or adults with autism will be prescribed medication to help treat symptoms for conditions related to their autism, for example, anxiety, depression, epilepsy or sleep disorders. A small number of people with autism may present behaviours that are aggressive or may cause harm to themselves or others. In these cases, it may be recommended that the person takes antipsychotic drugs to help calm these symptoms.
Research Autism provides a breakdown of all types of autism interventions, treatments and therapies, which you may find useful.
Family life and autism
Having a child, or children, with autism, is likely to mean you have a different family life to the one you had imagined, or different to the lives of other families you know.
You may need to adapt your home environment to suit your child, and consider any changes to the usual routine very carefully (for example, holidays, house moves, redecorating). The National Autistic Society provides lots of advice about this.
If you would like to talk to other families who have children with autism, you may wish to get in touch with Contact a Family or The National Autistic Society who both offer support groups.
There are many products for autism available that help people with the condition to cope with everyday life, develop new skills, interact with others, relax or sleep, and understand the world around them.
NRS Healthcare are experts in providing daily living aids and autism aids, including many resources that people with autism may find helpful. Here are some examples of products that may help with a selection of common autistic behaviours:
• Help for someone who chews non-food items – Chew Toys
• Create a calming environment and avoid overstimulation – Dark Den, Dark Den Lighting Accessory Kit
• Responds to visual sensory stimulation: Visual Effects Sensory Bag, Optical Effects Sensory Bag
• Responds to sense of touch or find tactile items comforting: Tactile Sensory Bag, Body Massage Bag, Undo-Me Mini Cube, Vibrating Cushions
• Responds to sound: Nature Sound Pyramid
• Responds to smell or requires relaxation: Aromatherapy Diffuser, Aromatherapy Starter Set, Aroma Dough
NRS Healthcare also provides a range of assistive technology or "telecare". These electronic devices can help if you are providing care for someone with a variety of needs, and includes equipment for safety and monitoring. Some parents and carers of children with autism may find these useful.
We also provide a range of other products that may help with all areas of daily living. If you need further advice, our team of in-house occupational therapists are on hand to recommend products to suit your needs. Contact them on 0345 121 8111 or email: [email protected]
Diet for autism
People with autism sometimes have difficulty with food and eating. This may begin during their very early years, even during the phase of weaning from milk to solid food when they are a baby. It is very common for people with autism to eat only a few foods, or have very specific tastes and requirements, for example, eating only soft food, crunchy food, etc. These autism eating habits sometimes lead to having problems with digestion, tooth decay, weight loss or weight gain.
Some researchers have suggested that autistic behaviours can be improved through diet, for example, eating a gluten free diet. Some people with autism or parents of autistic children report that dietary changes have led to improvement in some behaviour. However, there are no conclusive results from studies and little evidence to support these.
Some people with severe autism have low levels of key vitamins and minerals such as B vitamins and zinc. There are a host of autism supplements available online, for example, turmeric, but there is no scientific evidence to prove that these work.
Network Autism provides professional information about eating issues in people with autism as does the Association of UK Dietitians.
If you are concerned about the eating habits or diet of someone who has autism, or if you are considering supplements for autism, please speak to your GP or dietician first.
Exercise for autism
Exercise is important for children and adults of all ages. Many people with autism benefit from regular exercise. Some people will be willing and able to partake in sports and fitness, whereas other people may be less likely to do this. Exercise does not have to take this form though and many children and adults with autism enjoy running, jumping, walking and generally keeping their bodies active. Exercise may help with sleep, appetite, thinking, mood and give the opportunity to interact with others. Generally, if a child or adult is able to partake in physical activity in a safe manner, this is likely to be of great benefit to their wellbeing.
Autism and financial support
For information on how to access the benefits and financial support you are entitled to as a person with autism, or their parent or carer, please visit the GOV.UK website or the Money Advice Service.
Autism and employment
Many people with autism would like to work and are capable of working, but for various reasons are unable to find work. This may be due to communication difficulties that stop them applying or interviewing for jobs, lack of understanding from employers about autism and, potentially, a lack of certain required skills.
People with autism often have lots of skills that make them very employable, for example, they may have a good eye for detail, be very good at remembering information, be very good at following processes, be very creative in their thought and ability, and stay very focussed on specific tasks or ideas.
Fit for Work provides information for employees and employers about autism and employment