If you are an adult and have a diagnosis of autism you are legally entitled to an assessment under the Care Act (2014), which will determine if you are eligible for social care support from your local council.
The assessment will usually be carried out by a social worker or social care assessor. It should be done in person, not over the telephone. It will look at all aspects of your daily life and how you are coping.
By looking at your whole life, the assessment will identify the kind of help and support you need, for example: if you need help with shopping and budgeting, or to wash and dress yourself or if you need help with preparing and eating food.
Sometimes people with autism, particularly those without additional learning disabilities, may have developed coping strategies that can mask some of their difficulties. It can also be the case that some people with autism lack insight into their own difficulties and may not always appreciate the amount of support they get from other people; so it is important that the person carrying out the assessment gets the "full picture".
People with autism often have extreme sensitivity to things like light, noise, touch or smell. Care Act assessment forms alone may not take account of this, so if you have an assessment it is important to let the assessor know if this applies to you.
You also need to state how your autism affects your psychological well being and mental health. If for example, your autism causes you to be socially isolated and anxious you need to let the assessor know.
Social Care assessors will be looking at how you cope in a range of different areas of your life. The areas they will be interested in are listed below:
- Managing and maintaining nutrition
- Maintaining personal hygiene
- Managing toilet needs
- Being appropriately clothed
- Being able to make use of the adult’s home safely
- Maintaining a habitable home environment
- Developing and maintaining family or other personal relationships
- Accessing and engaging in work, training, education or volunteering
- Making use of necessary facilities or services in the local community, including public transport, and recreational facilities or services
- Carrying out any caring responsibilities the adult has for a child
If you have a diagnosis of autism then it is easy to ask for a Community Care Assessment.
Just contact Trafford Council Community Screening Team, using the below details, and request one yourself, or get someone to do it on your behalf.
Community Screening Team
Phone: 0161 912 5199
Textphone: 0161 912 2102
Fax: 0161 912 5127
Think about the areas of your life where you may need support:
- Who currently provides this support? What do they do?
- Would you be able to manage if this support was not provided?
Sometimes people with autism need support that is not always obvious to people who don't know them well.
- They may need prompting and reminding to do ordinary day to day things, like getting up, washing, dressing, eating, etc.
- They may not be able to remember to take medication.
- They may find ordinary everyday situations (such as using public transport or going shopping) highly stressful.
Under the Equality Act 2010 people with autism can expect public services to make all public services are required to make "reasonable adjustments"to the way they deliver services and support. Such adjustments should take into account each individual's particular difficulties. For example, if a person struggles to take in too much verbal information, it is reasonable to expect the assessor to break down information into more manageable chunks, to provide written information for the person to consider, to consider an appropriate time and venue for the assessment and to always consider involving an advocate or supportive friend or family member in the assessment process.
For further reading, the National Autistic Society Website also contains useful information on Community Care Assessments www.autism.org.uk
The article by Dan Leighton is also helpful in explaining issues to be aware of when assessing the needs of adults with autism.
For information about how need is assessed you can look at the Trafford guide on how need is assesed (Trafford My Way Website).
If you are eligible for support from the council you could be offered help with:
- Learning some of the day to day living skills that might help you to increase your independence
- Giving you help and support whilst your carers take a break
- Support with moving out of your family home into more independent living
The support may be offered as a personal budget, where you could be offered a cash amount to buy the kind of support you need. You would also be offered help to organise this support.
Please be aware that any assessment will include a financial assessment and you may be asked to make a financial contribution to any services offered
If you are living with, or getting a lot of support from your family they will also be entitled to a carer’s assessment. This will focus on their needs as a carer, and they may qualify for additional help and support.
When you have a community care assessment you should also be asked if your family want to be referred for a carer’s assessment, which would be carried out by Trafford Carers Centre.
For more information on getting the best out of your community care assessment you may want to read Social Care Assessment of Need for adults with an autistic spectrum Disorder from the National Autistic Society.