AutismHelp for families of autistic people

How autism can affect you and your family

Having an autistic child can put a lot of strain on you and your family.

You might need to spend a lot of time helping your child get the support they need. This can be very stressful and exhausting.

It may be hard to make time for the rest of your family and can affect your relationships with each other.

If you feel you need help, you can get support from lots of places.

Things that can help you and your family

Do

  • ask friends and family if they can help with day-to-day things or just be there to talk to
  • get advice from other parents of autistic children or autistic adults – find out where to get support
  • listen to other parents' stories – the charity healthtalk.org has stories of parents of autistic children, or you can search online for blogs, videos and books
  • ask your local council for a carer's assessment – you might be able to get extra support and financial benefits
  • think about doing a course for parents of autistic children – such as the EarlyBird course from the National Autistic Society

Don't

  • do not feel guilty for taking time for yourself when you can – even just going for a walk on your own can help give you a break

If you have questions about your child or family, you can call the National Autistic Society helpline on 0808 800 4104.

Talking to your child about autism

It's your choice when you want to tell your child about their autism.

Some parents do it straight away, while others wait until their child's a bit older. There's no right or wrong time.

When you tell your child, it may help to:

  • do it when they're feeling calm or relaxed
  • talk to them in a place where they feel comfortable, with no distractions
  • explain they do not have an illness, but they might need extra support to help them with some things
  • explain they might find some things harder than other people, and some things easier
  • bring them to a support group to meet other autistic children

The Autism Easyread guide from the National Autistic Society might help you explain autism in a way your child will understand.

Supporting your other children

Some children can find it hard if their brother or sister is autistic.

If you have other children, there are things you can do to help them.

Do

  • make time for them whenever you can – try to do some activities with just them
  • talk to them about what's going on and ask if they have any questions or worries
  • let them have time on their own or with their friends – for example, sleepovers at friends' houses
  • check the advice from Sibs, a charity for siblings of disabled children

Don't

  • do not be afraid to involve them in things like meetings with health professionals – it can help them understand what's going on

Page last reviewed: 18/04/2019
Next review due: 18/04/2022