Diagnosing and living with autism

Autism is not an illness or a disease, and it cannot be cured. It is not a learning disability and it is not a mental health condition.

Autism is known as a spectrum condition both because of the range of difficulties that affect autistic adults and the way that these present in different people. This means that while some autistic people lead independent lives, others require significant support.

Autistic people may:

  • find it hard to communicate and interact with other people, They may have difficulty understanding verbal and non-verbal communication, such as gestures, facial expressions and tone of voice
  • find it difficult recognising and understanding other people’s feelings and managing their own
  • find it difficult understanding and predicting other people’s intentions and behaviour
  • may experience sensory sensitivity or under sensitivity to certain sounds, tastes, smells, colours or touch
  • get anxious or upset about unfamiliar situations and social events
  • take longer to process information in order to understand it
  • do or think the same things over and over.

Autistic people and others have identified many strengths in being autistic, including:

  • being honest
  • being good at spotting patterns and being detailed focused
  • have strong interests in and great knowledge about certain topics
  • be able to focus very intently if in the right environment
  • being loyal
  • being punctual 
  • being non-judgement
  • having strong visual skills.

However, all of the above are not true of all autistic people.

Autistic people, like all people, are unique, and as Temple Grandin says, “Different but not less”

Can I get help if I have autism?

Adults who have been diagnosed with ASD and their carers who are residents of Tower Hamlets may be eligible for support.

We will carry out an assessment of both individuals and carers wherever they have needs, regardless of whether they are expected to be eligible for support from the council.

The support we provide covers a wide range of needs and includes:

  • a carer assessment and support plan
  • person-centred planning
  • community integration into mainstream services
  • support with the housing process
  • communication skills support
  • new skills development
  • independent advocacy
  • signposting or referral to relevant services, for example, physical health, mental health and other community and council departments
  • social groups.

There is lots of support available to autistic adults across the borough. Check out the Community Directory.

Diagnostic services in Tower Hamlets for adults

Tower Hamlets Autism Service (adults)

This is a diagnostic and brief intervention service for adults living in Tower Hamlets. It provides assessments and diagnoses of autism spectrum conditions. 

If someone is diagnosed by the service, they are offered some short term intervention sessions to help them live well with autism.

The service welcomes self-referrals, telephone 020 3487 1312, email: elt-tr.tower-hamlets-autism-service@nhs.net.

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