About Autism

Autism is a lifelong developmental condition, sometimes referred to as Autistic Spectrum Condition (ASC). Many people with ASC will share some difficulties but it will affect them in different ways.
Asperger syndrome is a form of autism.
Some people with ASC may also have other conditions This may include a learning disability or ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).
Further information:
• You can find detailed information about autism on the The National Autistic Society website.
• You can use the e-learning module Introduction to Autism to find out more about Autism and Asperger Syndrome.

Difficulties faced by people with autism

ASC will affect people in different ways. But people with autism share four main areas of difficulty:
Social communication – they have difficulty understanding facial expressions or tone of voice. They can take common phrases or sayings like “It's raining cats and dogs” literally.
Social interaction – they have difficulty making friends. They do not understand the rules of social contact.
Social imagination – they have difficulty understanding and interpreting thoughts, feelings and actions of others. They can also find it hard to predict what will happen next. This makes it challenging for them to prepare for change and plan for the future.
Sensory processing & integration - they are likely to have difficulty in sensory processing. This is the way the nervous system receives messages from the senses and turns them into appropriate responses. This affects emotions and the ability to perform certain tasks and manage behavioural and emotional responses. They may also present sensory seeking or sensory avoiding behaviour.

Getting a diagnosis

A diagnosis is the formal identification of autism. This will be by a health professional such as a paediatrician or psychiatrist.
Having a diagnosis is helpful for two reasons:
• It helps people with autism, and their families, to understand why they may experience certain difficulties and what they can do about them.
• It enables people to access services and support.
Your GP can refer you to the free Hampshire Diagnostic Service.
You can find out more about diagnosis on the NHS website.

Social activities and shopping

For local groups and activities, look in our Community directory. You can search under 'Specific needs' and then 'Autism/Asperger syndrome' for activities specifically for people with autism.

Autism friendly film screenings
Dimensions UK offer autism friendly screenings at over 250 cinemas in partnership with Cineworld, Odeon, Showcase and Vue cinemas. Every month, each participating cinema shows a different film from a selection of new releases and classics including Pixar animations, Disney adventures and many more films suitable for all age ranges.

Mayflower Theatre
The theatre offers a number of 'relaxed performances'.  They have also made a video, developed with Autism Hampshire, about a trip to the theatre.

Morrison's have introduced a 'Quieter Hour' in all their stores every Saturday for those who struggle with music and other noise. The National Autistic Society are encouraging other retailers and businesses to introduce a quiet hour.

Staying safe from crime or abuse

See the information in our Protecting adults at risk section.

Hampshire Safeguarding Adults Board (HSAB) has a website. This has useful information for people who may experience or be at risk of experiencing abuse, their families and carers.  This includes resources and guidance about staying safe and mate crime.

"Mate crime" is the exploitation, abuse or theft from any vulnerable person by those they consider to be their friends. Those that commit such abuse or theft are often referred to as 'fake friends'. Mate crime is most prevalent when the victim suffers with a mental disability and is especially common when that disability is Autism or Asperger’s. Hampshire police offer guidance on how to prevent and deal with hate crime or mate crime.

Information and support


Look in our Community directory for local support and activities. You can search under 'Specific needs' and then 'Autism/Asperger syndrome' for activities specifically for people with autism.

Autism Hampshire
Autism Hampshire  provides a range of services for people with autism and their families.
They provide the Local Autism Directory.  This has local services including support groups, advocacy groups and social and leisure activities 

The Hampshire Autism Partnership Board (HAPB)
The HAPB  was set up in 2010, in response to the Government’s National Autism Strategy. Its role is to address the issues specific to autism in Hampshire. Fifty per cent of people with autism also have a learning disability. This can make autism harder to recognise and understand. The HAPB links closely to the work of the  Hampshire Learning Disability Partnership Board.

Hampshire County Council
Services for children and adults have different approaches and criteria. This is because of the different needs and the different social and legal expectations.

Find out about adult support from the Council and their partners. This includes the Hampshire Autism Partnership Board.

People with Autistic Spectrum Condition can register as disabled  with Hampshire County Council.

To find out about children's support services please visit the Hampshire Local Offer  website.


The National Autistic Society
Autism Alliance
Autistic UK

Last reviewed: 11/05/2018