The issue of accommodation can be a fraught one for someone with autism. The reason for this is that the symptoms of autism vary according to where someone is on the autism spectrum.

The symptoms of autism vary from very mild through to severe which will determine their ability to manage for themselves and live an independent life.

One aspect of this is housing or accommodation.

Depending upon their symptoms, many autistic adults can cope with having their own place and are able to look after it. They are capable of renting a flat or house and can undertake the numerous day to day jobs such as shopping, cooking and cleaning.

In some cases they may require a small amount of help and assistance whilst doing so.

Severe cases of autism are often better suited to residential care.

How do you choose suitable accommodation?

Much of this depends upon the area you live in. But the most important factor in this is not cost, location or type of housing but the individual needs of the person involved.

Their type of autism must be assessed and from this, a suitable form of housing chosen.

If someone in your family is autistic and is ready to live independently then it may be something you can help them with. There are families who have a property to rent out so this could be let to someone with autism.

But in most cases, help and support is needed from your local housing authority, social services or housing association.

But what types of housing options are available?

Housing options for autistic people

There are several options available which include:

  • Independent living
  • Supported living
  • Living with other people
  • High support requirements

Independent living

This is an ideal form of living as it means complete freedom and independence. The autistic adult can live in the same way as people without a disability which can be a boost to their confidence and self-esteem.

There are several choices in regard to independent living which include taking out a mortgage; renting a flat or house from a private landlord; shared ownership of a property (half rent, half mortgage); and a housing association property.

Supported living

This is similar to independent living except that the autistic adult is provided with help for certain tasks. They can choose to live in a flat or house with assistance or opt for a situation similar to sheltered accommodation for the elderly. By this we mean that they live in a cluster of houses which have 24 hour warden control.

Another option is to rent or buy a property which is situated next to houses which contain other disabled people. Support is provided by a Community Living Worker who can advise about certain issues such as dealing with bills or access to benefits.

Living with other people

This is the third and most supported option. The autistic adult lives in an environment in which they have constant support. For example, sharing a house with a family or living in ’supported digs/lodgings’ with someone who does not have a disability.

Other options include living with someone with different needs and sharing a house with a group of people who all have a disability. This group house is supported by a member of staff who will help and advise about shopping, cooking or handling money.

High support requirements

This refers to autistic people who need 24 hour care. They have a severe form of autism and need specialised care on a regular basis. This depends upon the extent of their symptoms, for example, severe learning difficulties or a medical condition as a result of their disorder.

This care may include personal care, e.g. washing and dressing.

Paying for accommodation

Once you have decided upon a type of accommodation the next issue is that of paying for it. This may mean having to apply for a mortgage which is particularly difficult in the current economic climate.

Other considerations include paying rent on a property, social security benefits such as housing benefit and council tax benefit and help via your family.

The first step is to contact your local social services department to enquire about a Community Care Assessment through the NHS. They will assess the needs of the autistic person before deciding upon a suitable form of accommodation.

There may be help available from the Independent Living Fund which provides funding to autistic people still living at home with their parents, but need full time support.

(Source: The National Autistic Society)

Finding accommodation

If you are looking for accommodation then your local social services department is a good place to start. They may be able to provide you with details of suitable housing in your area.

Visit several properties and weigh up the pros and cons of each. Check to see if they are near to local services such as shops, doctors surgeries etc. Is it near to college, work or family and friends?

What is the area like? Is it noisy? Is it near to a bus stop or train station?

If you are thinking of a group house then speak to the other residents. Find out more about the property and the rights of the residents. Do they have a say in how things are run?

Check if the accommodation is licensed under the National Autistic Society Accreditation Scheme


Plan ahead. Start thinking about accommodation for you or someone you know with autism sooner rather than later. Find out as much as you can from your local social services department.

© Medic8® | All Rights Reserved