With around 700,000 people on the autism spectrum in the UK, autism is much more common than many people think. And if you include the family members for whom autism is a part of daily life, the number of people rises to 2.8 million.

What is autism?

Autism is described as a lifelong developmental disability that affects how someone interacts with and relates to other people, and how they experience the world around them.

Autism is a spectrum condition. This means that while all autistic people share certain difficulties and challenges, they will all be affected in different ways, meaning that each person will require a different level of support.

While there is no cure for autism, having the right support at the right time can make a huge difference to the lives and wellbeing of those affected. Yet according to The National Autistic Society it appears that many people on the autistic spectrum aren't getting the support they need. Figures published show 70% of autistic adults aren't getting the help they need from social services, with the same number saying they would feel less isolated if they had more support.

Here at CABA we've partnered with The National Autistic Society to provide a wide range of tailored support for people on the autism spectrum as well as their families and carers. Through this partnership we aim to make sure any ICAEW members and their families affected by autism get the help they need.

How CABA can help

Here's an overview of the range of support services we provide to ICAEW members and their families in partnership with The National Autistic Society that could help you and your family live a more fulfilling life of your choosing:

Pre-diagnosis support

If you have any concerns about getting a diagnostic assessment for yourself or a family member, this pre-diagnosis support provides practical and reassuring advice over the phone.

Parent-to-parent service

This award-winning service is provided by trained volunteers who are all parents themselves of a child or adult with autism. They know the impact autism has had on their own families, and can offer emotional support whenever you need to talk about your situation or feelings - or just when you need someone to listen without judging. You can arrange to speak to someone over the phone or by using the online service.

E-befriending

Befriending is a great way for children and adults on the autism spectrum to socialise and learn new skills, which can help them feel more confident. The e-befriending project is aimed at autistic individuals aged 12 and older as well as their families. We match individuals with e-befrienders who have similar interests, and both parties exchange emails, chatting about the things they're interested in. This offers a friendly, supportive link to the wider community.

Local support

The National Autistic Society has a network of local support groups and branches run by volunteers, most of whom have a personal connection to autism. Joining one of these support centres can help someone with autism and their family feel less socially isolated.

Education rights

If you're a parent or a carer of a pre-school or school-age child on the autistic spectrum, this is where you can get impartial, confidential information, advice and support on education rights and entitlements by phone or email. The service aims to explain education law and can help you explore your options and make informed decisions about your child's school education. It also offers advice on specific subjects such as getting extra help in school, assessments, education plans, reviews and school transport.

Exclusions advice

Children on the autism spectrum are more vulnerable than others to being excluded from school, often thanks to a lack of awareness by other pupils and school staff. This service offers advice and information to parents about all aspects of school exclusion in England. An Exclusions Adviser can advise you about a range of issues including informal exclusions, fixed-period and permanent exclusions, how to challenge an exclusion and what you can do if you believe your child is at risk of exclusion.

Transition support

Young autistic people aged 14 and older as well as their parents and carers can benefit from support and advice about the transition to adulthood. This service could help you manage upcoming changes - such as moving house, leaving school or starting college or a new job - and help you make plans for the future. This confidential information and advice is available by phone or email and aims to help young people with autism lead more independent and fulfilling lives.

In addition to the above services we're also offering 10-year memberships of the National Autism Society, which includes ongoing autism advice and information, plus the charity's quarterly Your Autism Magazine and fortnightly e-newsletter. Membership also includes discounts on many National Autism Society books.

Find out more about the support we offer in partnership with The National Autistic Society. Call us on +44 (0) 1788 556 366, email enquiries@caba.org.uk or chat to us online.

World Autism Awareness Week 2018

The 26 March to 2 April 2018 is World Autism Awareness Week. If you would like to get involved and show your support for The National Autistic Society, you can find out more on their website, autism.org.uk.