High-functioning autism is a term applied to autistic people who do not have a Learning Disability, but nonetheless can be vulnerable. This is due to difficulties they may experience in areas of communication, emotional expression and social interaction. Autism is a ‘hidden’ disability and is very often misunderstood; even carers of autistic individuals say they sometimes struggle to understand the complexities of the condition and how it affects those they care for.
The carers who contact the Autism Hub Islington seeking support are more often than not “feeling isolated and sometimes burnt out. Caring for an autistic person can mean long, often mentally and physically exhausting days, particularly where the autistic person is really frustrated and perhaps having melt-downs,” says Jill Bradford, Volunteer & Activities Coordinator for Autism Hub Islington.
Sensory overload is something that is common amongst autistic people. Bright lighting, white tables or tiles on a floor, lots of conversations going on all at once – all of these things can cause an individual to feel overwhelmed and make it difficult for them to function. Such situations are not confined to an office environment – the noise of traffic, the smell of engine oil, crowds on buses or trains and the noise of a police car can also have a similar effect.
Managing moving between different life stages can be especially hard if you find change difficult, as many autistic people do. Sensory overload, difficulties in adapting to changing situations and office politics can be real barriers for getting and keeping a job for someone on the autism spectrum.
Support for Adults Living with High-Functioning Autism
As Jill Bradford explains, “People who have been diagnosed as adults with high-functioning autism often get in contact with the Autism Hub feeling overwhelmed and anxious. They might read about stereotypes of people living with the condition and feel like ‘that’s not me’. Our Peer Support service and weekly drop-ins can really help – meeting other people in a similar situation and a place to relax and be themselves. We provide autism counselling with accredited therapists and awareness training and we can also help people living with high-functioning autism to know their rights and link into other support networks.”
Speaking to a carer at Islington Carers Hub, who cares for a son with high-functioning autism, she says, “I’m looking after my son who, despite having high intelligence, is very vulnerable. He might forget that he’s in the middle of cooking something or he might spend an entire month’s budget in one day. When it comes to employment, I think an integrated approach, where you have support from different people, including an employment specialist, would really work. This would mean all the difference in getting a job, getting training and finding a purpose in life.”
Employment Webinar – Tuesday, 7 September, 7-8.30pm
As one of a series of monthly webinars, the Autism Hub will be hosting an Employment Webinar on Tuesday, 7 September, 7-8.30pm. This is for high-functioning autistic people, their carers and employers. The Autism Hub and Islington Carers Hub are inviting anyone who cares for someone living with the condition to send through any questions that they might have relating to employment in advance of the webinar.
Please contact Jill Bradford, email@example.com, to book a place and to share any thoughts or experiences, about your support needs as a carer to help an autistic person into employment
To access Autism Hub Islington’s support and services, please see their website.
A Reminder of How Islington Carers Hub Can Help
Islington Carers Hub can support unpaid carers who live or care for someone living with autism in Islington. A reminder of how we can help unpaid carers is given below.
- Carers Assessment
After registration, the first thing we’ll do is offer a formal Carers Assessment to an unpaid carer. All carers have the right to a carers assessment when they have an eligible need and the assessment looks at how caring is impacting on the carer: physically, mentally, financially, emotionally and having time for themselves. Together we’ll have a conversation to identify what support the carer feels would help them in their caring role. We can also potentially help with alternative and complementary care arrangements.
- Linking in with Services
We can help people get an initial diagnosis and to get support from services in the borough with expertise in autism, including high-functioning autism. This includes connecting people to social activities and peer support that is tailored for adults living with the condition. We can also connect people to services that help with anxiety and depression, legal support where needed and to get any adaptations for their housing or workplace.
- Helping Unpaid Carers Get a Break
Weekly Get Togethers
We help carers to take time out for themselves and many are enjoying the weekly Get Togethers that we are hosting. Since lockdown, these have been online and welcomed by carers, providing a convenient way to discover and develop new interests from painting appreciation to yoga and cooking!
Carers Support Groups
We have monthly Carers Support Groups, providing support and resources that are available to carers in Islington. ‘Working for Carers’ is going to be attending our next session on Wednesday, 28 July at 10.30am.
Getting a Longer Break
Taking a longer break is so important for mental wellbeing. We can help carers apply for a flexible breaks fund and other grants, as well as link you in with organisations that provide free breaks to carers.
Whatever your needs or specific circumstances, get in touch with Islington Carers Hub on 020 7281 3319 or firstname.lastname@example.org, Monday to Friday 9am-5pm to speak to a member of our team.