Autism and local support services
What is Autism?
Autism is a lifelong, developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with and relates to other people and how they experience the world around them. It’s not a learning disability, but around half of autistic people may also have a learning disability.
You may find autism referred to as: Asperger’s, Asperger’s syndrome, Autism Spectrum disorder or condition, or someone who is on the autism spectrum.
Help and support in Newcastle
If you or a member of your family has autism, there are organisations in Newcastle that can provide advice and support:
Local information, advice and support (A to Z of services)
Autism Friendly Newcastle is a local community group who want to make our city more welcoming and accessible for people with autism.
Community Health and Social Care Direct at Newcastle City Council helps people with learning disabilities, autism and their carers. They can:
- give information and advice on social and health care services
- put people with autism in touch with organisations that may be able to help them
- arrange community care conversations
- arrange a carer’s conversation
- buy and arrange services that provide help and support
Adult Learning Disability and Autism Team is part of Newcastle Adult Services. Following a referral from Social Care Direct they help adults with autism and their carers. They can:
- arrange conversations about your needs under the Care Act
- plan support with adults and carers with eligible needs
- signpost adults and carers who do not have eligible needs to other services
- monitor whether support has been implemented for the people as directed
- work with other professionals who have been asked to support you
- work to safeguard adults with learning disabilities and/or autism
- work with Children’s Services, education and health to the move for young people with learning disabilities and/or autism to Adult Services
- promote the rights of people with learning disabilities and/or autism
Better Days offer training about learning disabilities and campaign for improvements and inclusion. They run the Safe Places scheme and offer leisure activities including tennis and garden tidies.
Disability North give information and advice on disability equipment and activities, benefits and Direct Payments as well as advising on many other aspects of disability and signposting to other sources of help.
Journey Enterprises provides life-skills and employability training for adults with learning disabilities and autism. You can self refer to this charity which has hubs in Newcastle, Blyth, Hexham and Bishop Auckland. Activities include arts and crafts, catering, drama and puppetry, music and dance, IT, horticulture, woodwork and health and exercise.
KeyRing supports vulnerable adults and people with a learning disability or autism. They encourage people to make links to their communities by becoming part of the network.
North East Autism Society (NEAS) support people with autism, learning difficulties and disabilities in the North East. They offer personalised services such as: education, day services, supported employment, residential care, supported living, respite short- break services and family support.
The Toby Henderson Trust offers sensory profiling, specialist counselling and support for the whole family. They’re based in Northumberland.
The Josephine and Jack Project provide courses for people with learning disabilities to help them make their own choices about life and love.
Daisy Chain Project provide specialist advice and guidance to neurodiverse young people, adults and their families. They offer virtual support and have a National Autism telephone helpline.
National information, advice and support
BILD work with people with lived experience to influence a more inclusive society. They run projects that may interest you – such as, ageing with a disability or communication, dementia and a learning disability.
Contact is a free telephone helpline and online support and advice for families with disabled children. They provide:
- A to Z of medical conditions and support available
- information on local support groups to support each other by sharing experiences and advice
- help to families to campaign, volunteer, fundraise and shape local services to improve life for themselves and others
National Autistic Society provides information, support and a range of useful services.
Respond is telephone helpline available to anyone with autism or learning disability, or their friends and family, who have experienced or been affected by institutional abuse. The helpline offers emotional support, practical advice, signposting and information giving. Regular counselling sessions are also available.
Newcastle Welfare Rights Service provide information and advice on benefits that you may be entitled to.
Citizens Advice Newcastle offer a support service which includes reviewing correspondence. Attend one of their drop in sessions for advice.
Parents and carers
Newcastle Carers can offer support, advice and guidance to people who look after someone with learning disabilities. They also run a monthly autism support group.
Families 1st 4 Additional Needs support people and families who live with Autism, learning disability, Neurological Diversity and other additional needs (including mental health issues) in and around Newcastle.
Skills for People run Positive Behavioural Support workshops for parents/carers of children with autism and or learning disabilities. The workshops help parents or carers understand and support their child’s behaviour, thinking about strategies and developing a plan that focusses on good quality of life for the child and parent/carer.
North East Autism Hubs
There are 4 North East Autism Hubs supporting parent and carers of children before, during and after being diagnosed with autism. They help families with children under 7 years old living in Newcastle at:
|North East Autism Hubs|
|Nunsmoor Centre, Studley Terrace. Newcastle upon Tyne, NE4 5AH|
|Galafield Centre, Newbiggin Lane, Newbiggin Hall, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE5 1LZ|
|Byker Sands Family Centre, 19 Raby Cross, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE6 2FF|
|Fawdon Community Building, NE3 2SN (site of North Fawdon Primary School)|
At the Autism Hubs you can get support, training and advice. You can book a place, to take part in the sessions:
- One-to-one appointments: for families to discuss any issues in confidence.
- Supporting your autistic child workshop: learn more about practical strategies to use in everyday life
Support to get your voice heard
Your Voice Counts is commissioned by Newcastle City Council to provide the Independent Mental Health advocacy services including: IMCA, IMHA, Advocacy under the Care Act and RPR services in Newcastle.
Connected Voice Advocacy runs a Community Advocacy Service, offering long term one to one advocacy support for vulnerable adults in the city.
Short breaks and day centres
Shared Lives is a Council run service for adults who have autism and who need overnight support and supervision.
Castle Dene offers a short break although there is a cost for this service.
Welford Centre is a day centre for adults complex needs. Service users must be referred by a Health or Social Care professional following an assessment.
Read more in our Services for people with learning disabilities or autism article.
Easyhealth is a website for people with learning disabilities where you can find health information with simple words, pictures and films.
LD North East provides a number of health cards free for anyone. The range includes: blood pressure, pain and symptoms, health services, urine and stools, diabetes and blood tests, women’s health, mean’s health.
There are a number of specialist services run by Cumbria, Northumberland Tyne and Wear Foundation Trust.
It is important that services offer reasonable adjustments for people with autism. This includes:
- annual health check
- support for cancer screening programmes
- health passport
- hospital passport
- Certificate of Vision Impairment (CVI). You should receive your CVI along with an Easy Read covering letter
Specialist Health Services
Adult Autism Diagnostic Service – Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW) provide diagnostic assessment for potential Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) adults over 18 and under 65 years, not already in receipt of Trust Services who
- have difficulty with change
- display lack of social connection
You can refer yourself or refer on behalf of someone else, either by phone or letter
Neuro Development team at the Newcastle Hospitals NHS Trust will help you towards diagnosis and further support
Children’s Speech and Language service at Newcastle Hospitals NHS Trust supports young people with autism to communicate better.
Alan Shearer Activity Centre offers a short break facility for children and adults with autism. As well as short break accommodation, the centre has sensory rooms, a hydrotherapy pool, specialised seating cinema, and organised activities.
Arcadea offer drama and cultural related activities
City Library hold a Quieter hour from 10 to 11 am on Saturdays.
Chain Reaction supports older people (over 55) to live independently at home. They can help you take part in groups and activities in your community. They can help you to start new friendships.
Cornerstone work with people with autism in the west end of Newcastle. They offer a range of activities such as art, cooking and drama.
Friends Action North East support adults with learning disabilities and autism to meet new people and make lasting friendships. They offer supported social activities and one to one mentoring supporting adults to develop friendships, learn friendship skills and be more active in their community
Liberdade Community Development Trust run an arts venue and café from Gosforth Civic Theatre. It is an inclusive space for performance, music, cinema, and community activity at the heart of Gosforth that aims to break down misconceptions of autism while also being a space where everyone can enjoy their café, get involved in a class or go to a show.
Newcastle Libraries have a range of books called ‘Pictures to Share‘. These books combine pictures and text for adults in a meaningful way and can help stimulate conversation between families, professionals and dementia sufferers. These can also be used with stroke sufferers, as well as adults with autism, learning disabilities and people with mental health needs.
Pathways 4 All is a parent-led charity offering social and leisure activities.
ReCoCo: Recovery College Collective have various courses available for individuals with autism including a creative arts group, cinema buddies group, and a games and chat group.
Rookie Sports can arrange tailored programmes for clients with learning, physical or sensory disabilities to help them experience improvements in physical health through the gentle exercise. They also aim to increase their social network and develop new skills.
Skills for People work with and support disabled people and their families. They offer a range of activities including a Help and Connect service to help people to connect with their local area, fitness and life planning. They run a support group All Autistics Accepted.
Twisting Ducks offer arts and drama for people with learning disabilities and autism
Education and employment support
Support is available in Newcastle to take part in training, placements and to prepare for employment. Read more in our article on Support to prepare for work.
Newcastle City Learning offer a range of courses including independent living and life skills, English, Maths, cookery and employability.
Supported Employment Service at Newcastle City Council help people who have barriers to employment find and stay in work. They help people to think about their career goals and how to achieve them. They can help you to:
- understand existing skills and how they’re useful to the jobs market
- write a CV and apply for jobs online
- get ready for interviews
- choose and gain qualifications
- stay in work
- take part in work experience and placements at Natures Landscapes and FoodWorks
Education and Services for People with Autism Ltd (ESPA) is based in Sunderland their services include:
- independent specialist Further Education College
- residential care
- supported living
- home care
- floating support
- transition services
- day opportunities
- supported internships
DiversityNE offer support to people with autism and other neurodivergent conditions to find a job by matching them to work placements.
Journey Enterprises provides life-skills and employability training for adults with learning disabilities and autism. You can self refer to this charity which has hubs in Newcastle, Blyth, Hexham and Bishop Auckland.
Youth Employment Service North East (YESNE) is a local youth employment service working to reduce the number of neurodivergent young people (such as autism, learning disability, dyslexia or Tourettes) who are not in work, education or training in or around the Tyne and Wear area.
Twisting Ducks offer Drama Works, a creative employability training programme for people with learning disabilities and autism that uses drama techniques to explore transferable work skills
Newcastle City Learning – LDD provision offer a variety of courses and qualifications for people over 19 with learning difficulties and disabilities.
Everyone should feel safe when living and enjoying life in Newcastle. Some extra support is available if you feel you need it.
Protected Telephone Services and Priority Repairs are available to help support people with long term conditions and disabilities. This helps to make sure that your phone line is working, so you can use it to stay in contact with others and in emergencies.
If you feel that you need extra support at home there is a range of supported living, day centres and place for over night stays available in Newcastle.
When out and about
The Blue Card is a free resource for people with autism in Newcastle. You can request a card and put your emergency contact details on it. Carrying The Blue Card will help you to feel safe and be safe when you are out and about. You can use your Blue Card at a recognised ‘Safe Place’.
Safe Places are where people with autism can go to get help if they’re worried, have lost something, or just need reassurance from staff at the Safe Place. Safe Places will have a yellow sticker in the window or on the door. In the case of a hate crime, the Police will be called.
The Safe Places that you can visit are:
- Brunswick Methodist Church
- Coquet Trust
- Dance City
- Great North Museum
- Hatton Gallery
- Heaton Post Office
- Jesmond Library
- Libraries across Newcastle
- Liberdade Community Development Trust, Gosforth
- Mills Pharmacy Gosforth
- Morrisons, Byker
- New Beginnings North East
- Newcastle Building Society Northumberland Street
- Newcastle Carers
- Nexus Travel Shops
- Northern Stage
- Ouseburn Farm
- Sainsbury’s Chillingham Road
- Sainsbury’s Grey Street
- Sainsbury’s Heaton Road
- Seven Stories
- Skills for People
- St James’s Park – Newcastle United
- St Mary’s Catholic Cathedral
- St John the Baptist Church
- St Nicholas’ Cathedral
- The Cycle Hub
- The Discovery Museum
- The Laing Art Gallery
- Theatre Royal
- Tyneside Cinema
- West Denton Community Centre
- WH Smith Northumberland Street
It’s a criminal offence to target someone because of a personal characteristic, such as autism or a learning disability. This can include name calling, threatening behaviour online or in person, or someone hurting you. Support is available to help you report any hate crime. Read more about what is Hate Crime and how to report it on InformationNOW.
There are different types of abuse and signs to be aware of. Types of abuse include: financial, physical, emotional, sexual and neglect.
People with autism may be more prone to certain health problems. You may find it useful to read the following sections on our website:
Other health conditions that can be associated with autism include:
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Down’s syndrome
- Fetal anti-convulsant syndrome
- Fragile X syndrome
- Learning Disability
- Visual impairment
About 70% of people with Autism have a non-verbal IQ below 70. Overall, up to 50% of people with “severe learning difficulties” have a diagnosis of autism.
If you have a sensory loss or disability you are entitled by law to accessible information about your health care and support from the NHS and publicly funded social care services. For example this could include large print or a professional BSL interpreter at medical appointments.
- find out your information needs
- record them in a set way
- highlight them in your records so that staff meet your needs every time you use services
- share your information needs with other services e.g. if you give details to your GP then these can be shared with any hospital service you maybe referred to
- make sure you get support the way you need including when your needs vary. For example you may need to receive short letters in large print but need longer documents on audio.
- ask on a regular basis if your needs have changed
Remember you can tell services this is your right to have your needs addressed and they have to do this by law (section 250 of the Health and Social Care Act 2012)
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Relevant reading on InformationNOW
You may find these articles on InformationNOW useful
- Accessible Toilets
- Blue Badge Scheme
- Bereavement and grief
- Disability Living Allowance
- Disability rights
- Hate Crime
- Looking after someone
- Making decisions (Mental Capacity)
Other Useful Information
- Beyond Words is a charity that provides books and training to support people who find pictures easier to understand than words.
- Inclusion North raises awareness of the barriers to inclusion for people with a learning disability or autism and their families, and work to remove them.
- The Challenging Behaviour Foundation offers information and support for people caring for someone who has challenging behaviours.
Last updated: August 10, 2022