Cookies enable our sites to provide you with the information, services or products that you have requested. They support administration purposes, such as improving our website (by understanding its performance for users). In some cases, they allow us to provide you with messages or information that are relevant to choices that you have already made. If you consent to this, we also offer sharing facilities in connection with your use of social sites, such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. 

You can choose what cookies should be set using our cookie panel, which you can access via the icon at the bottom left of most of our pages. This page explains in general terms what may happen as a result of your choices. You may also view details of

  • the specific cookies used on our site
  • our overall privacy policy, which governs our use of those cookies that contain personally-identifiable information

Note: Our cookie panel currently appears on this site ( We are working to extend it to our Community and Network Autism sites (November 2018).

What happens if I block cookies?

Necessary cookies

We do not offer an option for you to opt out of these. You can, if you wish, use browser facilities to block all cookies. If you do this, some of our key services and facilities will not work because necessary cookies are missing. For example:

  • Signing into the website (i.e. with username and password) and into the Community and Network Autism will not be possible.
  • In the shop, you will find that the site fails to remember the goods that you have put into your shopping basket.
  • The Autism Services Directory may not be reliable.
  • When you submit enquiry forms, the information may not be recorded successfully.
  • We have to set a cookie in order to remember the choices that you have made in our cookie panel. Because we will be unable to do this, you will be asked on every page to consent to cookies being set.

Performance cookies

We use Google Analytics to track anonymously what users do on our sites and, for example, to understand which site areas and pages are most popular, and also which paths our visitors find useful for navigating around our pages. Sometimes, we also use surveys, powered by SmartSurvey, to invite users to give us feedback. This may be about our site, or could be in connection with a public campaign. Surveys are also anonymous, except that we may offer you the option of giving an email address so that we can contact you for more detailed comment.

  • If you opt out from performance cookies being set, we will not be able to use your visits to help with improving the performance of our sites in this way.
  • We will also not be able to invite your views on the site or our work.


We make limited use of personalisation features to deliver appropriate information and messages to you. Without the relevant cookies, some of these features may not work, or may produce unpredictable results, such as:

  • Messages that you need to see because they relate to choices that you have made (for example, relating to a place that you are booking at a fundraising challenge event).
  • Personalisation intended to show you links to pages that we believe may be of interest, on the basis of other pages that you have viewed; we only do this to a very limited extent.
  • The option at the top of the screen to set the nation in which you live; on some pages, this results in the information presented to you being more relevant to that particular nation (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales).

Social sharing

  • Many of our pages offer tools so that you can post comments about our information to social sites. These use cookies from the social sites, so we only offer these tools if you allow social-sharing cookies.

Third-party cookies

Some cookies are set by third-party sites that you may use alongside ours. Often, you may also use these sites alongside others that you visit. For example:

  • Various sites that you visit may use the same payment services as we do. These services are likely to depend on cookies, many of which will be necessary to the service functioning correctly.
  • We and other site owners work with social sites, such as Facebook, to alert you to activities and services that may be relevant to you, via adverts on the social sites. When you respond to these adverts and therefore come to this site, the partner social site may use cookies to track your response, and/or to offer more relevant adverts to you in future.

These "third-party" cookies are set under the policies of the relevant site owners and, in general, you need to visit those sites for information on their cookies, and what preferences you may set.

What are 'cookies'?

A cookie is a small text file deposited on your computer's hard drive, that allows your choices and information to be remembered between one page and the next. Some examples of what cookies do are given above, where we tell you what will happen if you choose to block cookies. In general, the function of a cookie is to recognise you as you request successive pages; this then makes it possible for the site to access information about you that it has already stored in its own databases, from your previous page requests and forms. Cookies themselves often contain little more than a long string of letters and numbers that identify your visit to our sites, so that the site can look up this information. Your browser may give you tools to allow you to view the contents of the cookies that have been set by the sites that you have visited.

Each website can only access those cookies that it has created. We do not have access to the cookies from websites belonging to other organisations, and in turn other websites do not have access to cookies used by our websites. However, a page may contain components from more than one site. For example, where our sites make use of content and features provided by social sites, including for example Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter, those sites may set their own cookies, and do the same on other sites that you visit. This may allow social sites to track you across multiple sites. If you choose to block additional cookies on our sites, we disable most of these features, and so prevent the cookies from being set.

Necessary cookies are often called "essential" cookies.

More information

The Information Commissioner also has a page of information about cookies, including links to instructions on how you can use settings in your browser to control them, or to remove them yourself.

Updated 13/02/2019 to reflect occasional use of surveys