Information Now

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:

Information, advice and support

North East Autism Society (NEAS) is a specialist provider of support for people with autism in the North East. They offer personalised services to meet the needs of people with autism, learning difficulties and disabilities. Services include: education, day services, supported employment, residential care, supported living, respite short- break services and family support.

Disability North provide 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.

Contact have 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

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.

National Autistic Society provides information, support and a range of useful services.


Autism Friendly Newcastle

Community Health and Social Care Direct at Newcastle City Council helps people with learning disabilities, autism and their carers. They can:

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 assessments of need under the Care Act for adults with learning disabilities and/or autism and their carers
  • 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

Financial support

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

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. For children under 7 years old living in Newcastle. They run introduction to autism workshops, one to one appointments and drop in sessions.

North East Autism Hubs are:

Contact Kerrie Highcock to book for the Autism Hub sessions

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.

Support to get your voice heard

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.

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

My Hospital films show people with autism what to expect when coming to hospital for a radiology appointment to help reduce any fears they may have.

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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.
  • 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.
  • City Library hold a Quieter hour from 10 to 11 am on Saturdays.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • Cornerstone work with people with autism in the west end of Newcastle. They offer a range of activities such as art, cooking and drama.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Twisting Ducks offer arts and drama for people with learning disabilities and autism
  • 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.

Chain Reaction supports older people (over 55) to live independently at home. They can help you:

  • access groups and services in the community.
  • lead a happier, healthier life
  • to support and sustain friendships
  • feel less isolated

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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

Staying Safe

Everyone should feel safe when living and enjoying life in Newcastle. Some extra support is available if you feel you need it.

Public Transport

The Nexus Travel Safe Guide gives advice and tips on how to travel around Newcastle safely.  You can also carry a Bridge card to identify that you need help.

At home

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

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.

Safe Places that you can visit include:

Hate Crime

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.

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Health conditions linked to autism

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
  • Dyslexia
  • Dyspraxia
  • Epilepsy
  • Fetal anti-convulsant syndrome
  • Fragile X syndrome
  • Hyperlexia
  • 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.

You may also be interested in related research based at Newcastle University and in Autistica that focuses on adults with a late diagnosis of autism.

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Accessible Information Standard

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.

Services must:

  • 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)

Making InformationNOW more accessible

We are committed to making our information accessible at InformationNOW. You can change InformationNOW to suit your access needs

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Other Useful Information

  • 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.

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Last updated: October 14, 2021