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Autism is a developmental condition that affects the way children and young people communicate with and relate to others. It also affects how they make sense of the world around them. They often prefer routine and might struggle with change. They might have particularly intense interests and might be good at noticing patterns and small details.

Children and young people with autism frequently suffer from high levels of anxiety due to their difficulties in dealing with what’s going on around them.

Autism is a spectrum condition, which means that while all people with autism share certain difficulties, their condition will affect them in different ways. Autism isn’t a mental health difficulty, although some young people with autism might also have mental health issues. Autism is also associated with strengths such as attention to detail, noticing patterns and a passion for things that interests them.

A diagnosis of autism means that a child or young person has difficulties in three main areas:

Difficulty in communicating effectively with others

Difficulty processing and retaining verbal information (literal interpretation); difficulty understanding jokes and sarcasm; difficulties with social use of language; difficulties understanding and using body language, facial expression and gesture

Difficulty in social relationships

Difficulties with friendships and working co-operatively; might find breaks and lunchtimes more difficult to manage because they’re usually unstructured; might appear at times to be inappropriate or unusual in what they say or do (this isn’t done on purpose to annoy or upset people but is based on a lack of social understanding about ‘unwritten’ rules of conversation and behaviour)

Restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviour, interests or activities

A lack of social imagination and creative play; difficulties with flexibility of thought; difficulties with coping with changes, displaying rigid thinking and behaviours; an unusual need for structure and routine; a tendency towards unusual, restricted and intense interests

As well as the areas outlined above, many children and young people with autism will have difficulties with fine and gross motor co-ordination and organisational skills. They can also be affected by sensory sensitivities (sensitivities to noise, lights, smells, etc). They also tend to experience higher levels of anxiety; this can have a significant effect on their behaviour so the impact of anxiety on daily life shouldn’t be underestimated. 

Autism in girls

It is well recognised that autism can present differently particularly when girls and women mask or camouflage difference or difficulties. This can affect both the likelihood of being referred for an assessment and also potentially the outcome of an assessment if the differences are not well understood.

Autism: the positives

There are many positives of an autistic mind. This poster from the University of Leeds highlights the positive features you may encounter. But remember that every experience of autism is unique and no one person will identify with every feature of autism.

If you suspect your child may have autism, talk to your school nurse or health visitor in the first instance. If you'd like to find out about making a request for help, please visit our Autism Assessment Team page.

You should seek help when your child's symptoms have been occurring over several months, are having a significant impact on their day to day lives, and haven’t responded to interventions from prevention and early intervention services (such as youth counselling and behaviour support, evidence based parenting or treatment from primary mental health workers).

Schools are often the best people to speak to as they’ll know your child or young person well. Ask for a meeting with the school ‘Special educational needs coordinator’ (SENCO) to discuss your concerns and how your child can be supported. If you do need to make a request for help, you will need to do this jointly with the schol, and a School Support Plan will also need to be completed.

If your child or young person is having mild or moderate difficulties (such as mild depression, moderate behavioural difficulties, school refusal, family relationship difficulties, bedwetting and soiling), there are a number of services across Berkshire that can provide support. You can find these services through the Local Offer

If you feel your child has a mental health difficulty in addition to their autism, you should ask to be referred to our Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).

 Here are some resources to help with some of the related characteristics of autism.

Resources for girls with autism


  • The National Autistic Society: Autism
  • The Explosive Child: A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children by Ross W. Greene
  • The Incredible 5-Point Scale: The Significantly Improved and Expanded Second Edition by Kari Dunn Buron & Mitzi Curtis
  • Managing Family Meltdown: The Low Arousal Approach and Autism by L Woodcock




School difficulties


SHaRON Jupiter is an online support and advice service for parents and carers of children with autism provided by Berkshire Healthcare in partnership with agencies including Autism Berkshire, Parenting Special Children and Autism Support Workers in Berkshire.

If you’d like to join SHaRON, please ask your child’s CAMHS clinician, support worker or Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO) to make a referral.

If you’re unable to get a referral form completed by a clinician, support worker or SENCO, Autism Berkshire will forward a completed referral form on your behalf.

Reading, Wokingham and West Berkshire

Berkshire West Autism and ADHD Support Service (opens in new window), provide autism support on behalf of the BOB Integrated Care Service. It offers pre and post assessment advice and support for families with children and young people aged up to 25.

Phone: 01189 594 594 - select option 1


Autism Advisor for Families


Autism Spectrum Service for Information, Support and Training (ASSIST)
ASSIST is a Wokingham Borough Council Service which offers information about autism, local events and the opportunity to attend courses run for parents who have a child with a recent diagnosis of autism.
Phone: 0118 974 6881/6882

ASD Family Help 
ASD Family Help is a charity offering free support and advice to individuals on the autism spectrum as well as parents, carers and professionals within the Wokingham Borough.
Phone: 07707660599

West Berkshire

Kelly Evans, Autism Advisor for Families
Phone: 01635 503646


The Margaret Wells-Furby Children’s Centre 
The Margeret Wells-Furby centre runs courses for parents of children aged up to 8 years old with autism.
Phone: 01344 456416 or 01344 354170
Email: or

Windsor & Maidenhead 

The Shine Team 
The Shine Team supports children in mainstream educational settings who have an autism spectrum diagnosis by providing an training to staff working specifically with pupils on a 1:1 basis, or in small groups to support social skills and/or transition years. SHINE also offers autism specific workshops to parents and carers, including EarlyBird, EarlyBird Plus and Cygnet programmes.
Phone: 01628 762253 (Mon-Fri 9am-12pm)

Thames Valley

The Autism Group offers support and social opportunities for young people on the autism spectrum (specifically in the secondary school and above age group). It also offers autism training for parents, carers and people living and working in the Thames Valley area. The team is based near Maidenhead.

Special interest groups: For more information, contact Ruth on 07454 375071 or email
Training: For more information, contact Dawn on 07463 337851 or email
Parent Support: For more information, contact Tricia on 07423 636339 or email 

Helpful resources

Autism Berkshire: Autism and ADHD support service (Newbury, Reading, Wokingham)

Autism Berkshire
External web link -

Gems: Autism and ADHD support service (Bracknell, Slough, Windsor and Maidenhead)

External web link -

After autism diagnosis - information for parents

Information for parents and carers after receiving an autism diagnosis for their child
Download - File size: 297KB

After autism diagnosis - child

Information for children and young people to provide support after receiving an autism diagnosis
Download - File size: 356KB

Ambitious about Autism

A toolkit to guide parents and carers through their child's journey
External web link -

Autism Berkshire

Specialist services, training, and social and leisure activities throughout Berkshire
External web link -

The Autism Group - East Berkshire

Maidenhead-based charity supporting people with autism and their parents or carers.
External web link -


Helpline, resources and workshops for those in East Berkshire.
External web link -

National Autistic Society

The leading UK charity for those with autism and their families
External web link -

National Autistic Society - after diagnosis leaflet

Information for parents and carers of children with autism
Download - File size: 874KB

Parenting Special Children

Workshops and courses for parent/carers who have children or young people who are pre- and post- assessment for Autism
External web link -

Positives of autism

Poster from the University of Leeds on the positives of autism
External web link -

Getting help now

Support available before, during and after an assessment
Download - File size: 250KB

Waiting times

Information on waiting times for ADHD and autism, March 2023
Download - File size: 158KB