Family Support FAQs

What is Aspergers Syndrome?

Aspergers Syndrome is where the individuals may have average or above average IQ and may not have had a delay in language development. For further infromation, please see our Asperger factsheet here.

Where can I find a childminder who understands my child with Autism?

  • The Northern Ireland Child-Minding Association (NICMA) provides guidance and training to childminders. www.nidirect.gov.uk/childcare
  • Employers for Childcare. Expert Family Benefits Advisors empowering you to make informed decisions about benefits, childcare and work related issues. You can contact them on 08000286538 or cbe@employersforchildcare.org 

Our family support team can signpost you to the services you need in your area. To speak with them, please phone 02890401729 (Option 1) or e-mail orla@autismni.org.

How do I choose a school in Northern Ireland that will provide for the needs of my child with Autism?

If you are looking for a suitable Primary School, get in touch with the professional who made your child's diagnosis and ask for their advice. They know your child's ability, however they may not be in the position to recommend a school in particular but may have contact details for School Principals to request a visit.

If you are looking for a suitable Secondary School, talk to your local ASD Advisory Team in Education and find out what local schools have to support children with ASD. Talk to other parents about their experiences with the local schools.

Also, please see out Factsheet on 'Tips and Hints on School Selection'. Or to discuss this further, please contact our Family Support team on 02890401729 (Option 1).

Is an individual with Autism entitled to DLA?

DLA is a benefit for adults and children with disabilities. In order to qualify, claimants need to show what their disability means, whether they need care and/or if they have mobility difficulties. The Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB), Advice NI, Autism Initiatives and Carers NI can assist you further if you require more information. For further information on Disability Living Allowance for a child under 16 and a checklist, please see out Factsheet here.

What therapies or interventions are available for Autism?

Before using any therapies or interventions, it is best to find out as much information as you can about  Autism and all of the more commonly talked about interventions. Any approach should be positive, build on strengths, discover potential and increase motivation. Please visit the Journey's publication for more information on these strategies and interventions. 

What support is there for siblings?

We hold training workshops for siblings. For an expression of interest form, please check out the 'Training' section on our website.

Also see our Factsheet on 'What Siblings need to know' for more information.

How do I start up an Autism NI Support Group?

To start up an Autism Support Group in your area, please contact Donna from our Family Support Team on 02890401729 (Option 1) or e-mail info@autismni.org

How do I join an Autism NI Support Group/Branch?

If you would like to find out what Autism Support Groups are available in your area in Northern Ireland, please click here or ring 02890401729 (Option 1) for details. You do not need a referral to join a support group, just go along and you will be made welcome, or if you would like to speak to someone before arriving at the support group, please ring our Advice Line. 

How can I find out about activities in my area for my child with Autism?

Autism NI has 2 part time Link Workers who can advise on available activities in your local area:

  • If you are phoning from the Belfast/South Eastern/Northern area, an Autism NI Link Worker will be able to take your call from Mon-Fri 9.30am-1.30pm on 02890401729 (Option 1).
  • If you are calling from the Southern/Western area, an Autism NI Link Worker is available to reach on 07979505571 from Monday 9.30am-12.30pm, Wednesday & Friday 9.30am-1.00pm

Alternatively contact the ASD Co-ordinator employed by your HSC Trust.

What does it mean to be "on the Spectrum"?

This statement means that you have been diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). It means you will have some level of difficulty in social communication, social imagination, social interaction; you may also have some sensory issues. Each person is an individual and their Autism effects them differently.

I need advice for potty/toilet training for my child with Autism, can you help me?

Potty training can be very difficult for some children who have ASD. If your G.P advises that there is no medical reason for this difficulty, you as a parent/carer may have to consider a toileting schedule. The schedule should be prepared by someone who knows your child well. For example, a Speech and Language Therapist or an Autism Intervention Therapist. If you as a parent have received Autism training, you may be in a position to devise your own schedule. It may require reinforcement by you as a parent until a positive routine has been established. Always work at the child's level of understanding and seek out advice of your local ASD service.

What employment opportunities are there for people with Autism in Northern Ireland?

Some individuals with Autism have the ability to find jobs themselves, although organisations such as The Orchardville Society, NOW Project, Disability Action, NIUSE, Appleby Trust, USEL and Specialisterne all provide supported employment. The Disability Officer in your local job centre should be able to advise you of any job opportunities and support your application. For further advice, please call our Family Support Team on 02890401729 (Option 1).

How can I help my child with Autism who has OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)?

Parents should seek the advice of a Clinical Psychologist/Psychiatrist as the strategies used to support their Autism may not be sufficient. This can be done through their G.P or by referring back to the service that made the diagnosis.

Can you tell me the different levels of Autism?

Autism is a spectrum. Many individuals are given a diagnosis of an ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder), AS (Asperger Syndrome), HFA (High Functioning Autism); however it still means they have Autism.

Each person will be affected differently by their Autism and this could be due to the impact of the sensory difficulties, cognitive ability and associated disorders such as ADHD, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Dyscalculia, Tourette's etc. To discuss this further, please call our Family Support Team on 02890401729 (Option 1).

What do I do if my child with Autism refuses to go to School?

Contact the school and speak to the class teacher, the School SENCO, the Principal, Head of Year or the Education Welfare Officer in the Education Board. Depending on the child's needs you may also have to contact your G.P. Please find our Factsheet on Education and Statementing to assist you through this process or contact our Family Support team on 02890401729 (Option 1).

Can I get someone to help me in my own home with my child with Autism?

Yes, in some cases. However different Health and Social Care Trusts and Education Boards have different services. Some have specific ASD Intervention Therapists. Parents may have to contact their local Family Support Hubs or be referred into them by a Social Workers, Healthcare Professional or G.P. Other suggestions are to contact your local Gateway Team or ASD Coordinator to find out what is available in their area. For more information, please contact our Family Support team on 02890401729 (Option 1).

Does Autism NI provide any Family Support Workshops?

Autism NI has developed two new family support workshops and discussion groups for parents and carers called Starting Point and Parent Time. To find out if these workshops are available in your area, please click here.

The Starting Point workshop will be based around practical strategies to start working with your young child with ASD. The workshop will focus on understanding your child with ASD, teaching play skills, communication and social interaction skills, teaching social routines as early as possible and dealing with difficult situations you may encounter.

The Parent Time workshop is an informal discussion group for parents and carers.

Whilst this workshop is free of charge for parents, booking is essential in order to manage planning and catering. For more information about the workshops, please ring Family Support on 02890401729 (Option 1).