Autistic people (including those with Asperger syndrome) vary greatly in their support needs. Some live independently but others need support with certain tasks or need 24 hour specialist support. 

Sources of support

You might get support from:

Types of support services

The most common types of support service are:

  • support in your home (this is sometimes called domiciliary care)
  • residential care
  • respite care - if you live with your family, respite care would give you a break away from one another
  • supported living schemes - living in your own accommodation where support is on hand
  • day centres - these can help you to do activities and socialise with other people
  • supported employment - this can help you to work or prepare for work
  • adult placements - this is a bit like fostering, you live with a family who agree to support you
  • therapists and specialists, such as counsellors or medical professionals.

You might have thought of another type of support. Tell your social worker about any type of support that you think will help you.

Planning

It may take time to find the right support, so plan from an early stage. Waiting for an illness or a crisis may force you to have to act quickly and may mean that you end up with fewer options and not much time to prepare.

If you are the parent of a child with a statement or Education, Health and Care plan (EHC plan), then future support options should be discussed as part of transition planning. If your child does not have a statement or EHC plan, then it's unlikely that future support needs will be discussed formally at school. If you have a social worker, talk about future support options at an early stage.

If you are an autistic adult, or the parent of an autistic adult, and you are yet to find suitable support, your first course of action should be to look at the housing options available. Some autistic adults live with their parents. Some might not want to do this, but may need support to live independently. Most housing options will need an assessment and support from social services or your local housing authority or association.

Thinking about where to live

Independent living

Some autistic people are able to live independently without any formal support. If this is the case for you, here are the options.

  • Home ownership. You can become a home owner by getting a mortgage and paying for this through earnings or benefits, by inheriting a property (directly or by a trust), or by joint ownership (parents combining resources to purchase a property for their children).
  • Shared ownership. You buy a share of the property and pay rent on the rest to your housing provider. Rent payments may be covered by housing benefit as long as your income and savings are low enough. Shared ownership does not mean that you have to share the property with other people.
  • Renting private property. You would pay rent on a property to a private landlord or letting agent. Sometimes the rent will include an amount to cover some or all bills. Many privately rented properties require you to pay your own bills. The exact arrangement will be explained in your contract, or tenancy agreement, with the landlord.
  • Renting a local authority or housing association property. You would have to add your name to the waiting list as soon as possible. Most properties are allocated according to a points system. Sometimes people are eligible for extra points due to disability. You may be able to ‘bid’ for properties as they become available (the bidder with the highest priority is allocated the property). This might be by telephone, online or at the local housing office.

If you still rely on your parents or other family members to help you, for example with managing your finances, cooking or shopping, they may be able to get a carer’s assessment from your local social services department. You are also entitled to a community care assessment.

Semi-independent living

Some autistic people are able to live semi-independently while getting outside support. The main options are:

  • home ownership with support
  • part or shared ownership with support
  • renting private accommodation with support
  • housing authority/association accommodation with support
  • cluster housing
  • small blocks of self-contained flats with a bedroom, bathroom and kitchen - there would be a manager, warden or support worker on-site or providing 24-hour support
  • supported living - a flexible type of support that helps someone to live in their own home rather than in residential services, the level of support depending on the community care assessment that your local social services department carries out
  • Community Support Networks - a self-contained house or flat which is close to other similar houses and flats. A Community Living Worker (CLW) would also live nearby and would support the community members like a good neighbour, providing information, advice and a sympathetic ear when needed. Network managers support CLWs and also support tenants with specific issues, such as benefits.

Living with others

  • Adult placements - social services may be able to arrange a placement within a family (this is like a foster home).
  • Supported lodgings - living in someone else's home as a lodger but with extra support at home with things like personal care.
  • Homeshare you would share your house or flat with someone who has different needs. Both people will have something to offer each other (eg some people may have a home and need support and help, while other people may need a home and be able to offer help and support).
  • Group homes and shared housing - homes are shared by around three or four people. Residents can do their own shopping and cooking, with support from staff who may be present during the day, or visit regularly.

The support required in each of these options will be unique to each person, based on a community care assessment. Usually, this support will be provided by social services - it could be as simple as a couple of hours a month for help with budgeting and paying bills, or it could mean several hours a day to assist with personal care, cleaning and shopping.

If you have high support needs

Some autistic people need specialist 24 hour support. This could be for a variety of reasons, such as an accompanying learning disability, mental health issue or medical condition, or it could be for safety reasons (eg if the person lacks awareness of danger). Here are the main options available.

  • Parental home. The person lives in the family home with support from social services. If family members are providing this support they should ask for a carer’s assessment through social services.
  • Home ownership with full support. The person owns their own property and gets full-time support from social services.
  • Renting with full support. The person rents a property from private landlord or a housing authority/association with full-time support provided by social services.
  • Shared ownership with full support. The person part-owns a property and gets full-time support from social services.
  • Further Education colleges / residential colleges - this type of residential accommodation is provided alongside an educational placement. Any additional support would depend on an assessment of individual needs.
  • Residential homes. Some residential homes cater for people with a range of disabilities as well as autism (eg visual impairment, learning disability) while others cater only for autistic people. The number of people in a residential home could vary from as few as three residents to over 20. There is usually 24 hour care, and this may include personal care.
  • Group homes - usually smaller than residential homes and shared by three or four people. If 24 hour care and support is provided, the home will have to meet registration requirements.

Your local social services department or housing authority might suggest some alternative options which better meet your specific needs.

Choosing a placement

After considering what's available, you will need to make a shortlist of preferred options.

If these options are ones that need local authority support, you should contact your local social services department to ask for an assessment of your needs. Your local social services department or housing authority may provide you with a list of available housing options in your local area. Many services are listed in our Autism Services Directory. You should be involved as much as possible in choosing your future housing. You may want to consider getting an advocate to help you get the right support. An advocate would work on your behalf and could contact other agencies including social services to ensure that your rights are heard and upheld.

Visit a number of places. You may get a good ‘feel’ for some, but not for others. Think about what is important to you or your child. How important is location? Does the house need to be within a certain distance of a college, family members or work? Is it within easy access to public transport? Is it in a familiar area? If you are looking at a registered residential service, we recommend that you read the most recent inspection reports.

All residential homes must be registered. This means they must be vetted to make sure they provide suitable care to disabled people. Inspections are carried out regularly and assess a number of factors, including building standards, staffing levels, staff training and experience, health and safety and complaints. Registration requirements are the responsibility of the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in England, the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) in Northern Ireland, the Care Inspectorate in Scotland and the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW) in Wales. You can view details of recent inspections on the website of these organisations.

If you are considering shared accommodation, it may be worth speaking to other residents or their families to find out about their experiences. You might wish to ask whether residents are involved in making decisions about the place where they live - for example, choosing staff or deciding how the house will be run.

You are entitled to see a copy of the service provider’s complaints procedures and their policies on behaviour and other issues, if you want to. You might also want to find out about the level of staff turnover and the standard of staff training, especially in relation to autism.

It would be useful to find out if the service has Autism Accreditation or is working towards this.

Adults can claim a variety of benefits to help pay for daily living expenses such as food and bills. You may also be entitled to housing benefit to help with rent. Find out more about benefits.

Get benefits and care advice