Support for parents of children with autism

Support for parents of children with autism

What support you can get if your child has autism, Asperger Syndrome or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Autism is a lifelong condition that affects how a person communicates with and relates to others.

Autism is a spectrum condition. This means that all autistic people share certain difficulties, but the way these affect them is different from person to person.

Autism is often called autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or autism spectrum condition (ASC).

People with autism may also have other conditions as well as ASD.

If you think your child might have autism

Your child is under five years old

You can talk about your concerns with:

Your child is over five years old

If your child goes to school, speak to:

  • the school Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO)
  • the school’s speech and language therapist

You can also:

Support outside education settings

Bristol Autism Team Family Learning and Family Support Hub

The Family Learning and Family Support Hub supports children who:

  • have a diagnosis of Autism
  • are going through the assessment process and have Social Communication and Interaction Needs
  • have Sensory Processing difficulties

They offer family learning courses, which families can access through a referral process.

These courses offer:

  • information and advice on autism
  • information on ways to support your child
  • opportunities to meet other parents or carers
  • information and signposting to services and benefits

The courses are very popular, so you'll need to add your name to the waiting list for them.

To add your name to the waiting list for the courses, you can:

The hub also offers family activities in the school holidays, through the Bristol Autism Project.

Support in education settings

Bristol Autism Team Education Hub

The Bristol Autism Team Education Hub are only able to offer support for children and young people who have a formal diagnosis of autism, through:

  • early years settings
  • primary school
  • secondary school
  • post 16 settings

Specialist teachers and specialist mentors give advice and support for children and young people in all educational settings, including:

  • mainstream educational settings, within Bristol and in other local authorities
  • specialist educational settings, within Bristol and in other local authorities
  • the Bristol Hospital Education Service
  • Alternative Learning Provisions

We also help in cases when children aren’t on a school roll.

To get information and advice, email

Who the Autism Team help in schools

Children with a formal diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Condition can get support in their educational setting.

Children in Early Years settings need to have had referrals to the Early Years Portage and Inclusion Service.

Children of school age or post-16 need to have one of the following:

  • an Education, Health, and Care Plan (EHCP)
  • an EHCP declined within the last 12 months
  • a request for Statutory EHC Needs Assessment submitted
  • Top Up funding at Band 3 or above
  • significant risk of permanent exclusion following a number of fixed term exclusions in the last six months
  • to be attending an Alternative Learning Provision or be under Hospital Education
  • to be subject to a Child Protection order, or be a Child in Care or a Care Leaver

How the support works

The team does a consultation visit of the educational setting, where they:

  • observe the child or young person
  • speak with them
  • meet with all relevant staff

Parents would be invited to meet with the team at this stage.

After the consultation visit, they:

  • set some short-term outcomes for the educational setting to work towards
  • advise on provision needed to meet these outcomes

In some cases, the team make the case Open to Review. This means the team, school, and parents agree that the school can go ahead with the recommendations without any more help. If the school does need more help, they can contact the team again within the next six months.

For other cases, it’s agreed that the team needs to actively help. The team can do up to six further visits to the educational setting, spread out over time.

During the visits, they:

  • give additional advice on their recommendations
  • record progress, in terms of implementation and impact for the child or young person

At any point within these six visits, and definitely as part of the sixth visit, the team can review progress and agree to make the case Open to Review.

Some cases might need ongoing input. The team can do up to six more visits, and focus on direct advice and review.

For some cases, there may be additional visits, following the same system.

Bristol Autism Team Family Support Workers

Specialist Family Support Workers support families with a child/ young person with autism through:

  • working directly with the family , including home visits, community based activities, liasing with educational settings and other agencies
  • interventions, for example visual supports or emotional regulation techniques

Their support ranges from signposting to universal support services to longer term involvement in complex cases. This is allocated during Case discussion forum meetings.

The family social worker makes the referral to the team. The team discusses and allocates referrals during monthly Family Learning and family Support Hub meetings.

Short breaks for disabled children

You can find information about the different types of short breaks available to disabled children and their families.

Holiday activities with the Bristol Autism Project

The Bristol Autism Project and FACE, a youth and community charity based in Filton, offer a holiday activities programme is for 5 to 18 year olds who live in Bristol and:

  • have a diagnosis of autism
  • are going through the process of diagnosis and have social communication and interaction needs

The activities are open to the siblings and family members of the children. 

Visit the FACE website for more information and to book a place.




Site Map