Autism | Finding out more

For most parents, autism is a term we have heard in the media, in school and across social networks but today, there are still many misconceptions about what autism is.  

Being a parent of an autistic child can bring many joys and forever memories but can equally bring worries and challenges and at times, we will be faced with situations we are unfamiliar with - this is normal.

Girl playing with lego type blocks

In this section we will give a brief overview of autism and for parents, carers or professionals wanting to know more, it helps to identify support, resources and courses available to develop an understanding of autism and how to support our autistic children and young people.

What is autism?

Autism is a spectrum condition which affects children and young people in different ways. It is believed that one in 100 people in the UK are autistic. Autism is something that a child is born with and is a lifelong condition which can affect the way they perceive and understand the world, the way they interact and respond to social situations and the way they communicate with others.

Autism is not a medical condition, it is just a difference in how our brains work.

For more information, please visit the NHS Autism page.

Triad of impairment

When considering autism, we tend to look at three key areas which are: 

  1. The way we communicate
  2. The way we interact socially, and
  3. Our interests.
Infographic showing the autism triage of impairment

Assessment and Treatments


For further details on how to obtain an autism assessment for yourself (a person under 18) or your child, please take a look at our Paediatric Autism Assessment Service Page.

If you are an adult (18+) and wish to seek an assessment for yourself, please speak to your family GP or take a look a the South West Yorkshire Partnership's Adult Autism Service page 


There is no treatment or 'cure' for autism, however, there are lots of things you can do to support your child's difficulties and embrace their differences. Parent workshops such as the Early Bird Programme, Cygnet Programme, Teen Life, First Steps and Next Steps are recommended for all parents in order to develop an understanding of autism and how we can support our children.

Details of courses, information and resources can be found below.

Resources and support

Autism Parent Courses


The Cygnet Programme

The Cygnet Programme is a parenting support programme for parents and carers of children with autism. This includes children currently in the process of an assessment.

This is currently offered by:

  • Barnardo's at The Priory Centre, Lundwood (for children up to and including Year 7)

          Call: (01226) 770619 or visit the Barnardo's website for more information.

  • The Social Communication and Interaction Team (ages 5 to 18)

          This is an online programme. Visit Barnsley Council's website for more information on these courses.

The Early Bird Programme and Teen Life Programme

Early Bird is a support programme for parents and carers which offers advice and guidance on strategies and approaches for supporting autistic children.

The Teen Life Programme aims to empower parents and supporting professionals to understand more about how autism is experienced by autistic teenagers. Topics covered include understanding autism in teenagers, women and girls, self-esteem, spending time with other people, stress and anxiety, behaviour, puberty, independence skills, education strategies and planning for the future.

This is currently offered by:

  • Family Centres: 

         Please contact your local family centre for more information and availability 

'First Steps' autism parent and carer workshop

First Steps is for parents and carers whose child or young person has received an autism diagnosis. This session gives parents and carers the opportunity to find out more about autism and the support that's available, as well as chat and share experiences with others.

Thinking Differently parent and carer workshop

Thinking Differently is for parents and carers for children with identified social communication and interaction needs. (A diagnosis of autism is not required to access the workshop).

This session gives parents and carers the opportunity to find out more about social communication and interaction needs and the support that is available, as well as to chat and share experiences with others.

This is currently offered by:

  • Barnsley Education Inclusion Services: Please the Inclusion Services page for further details of these workshops and details of how to book a place.

Recommended reading list

Amazing me, Amazing you, by Christine McGuinness
ISBN: 0702323209

Autism-friendly guide to periods, by Robin Steward
ISBN: 1785923242

Parenting your child with autism, by Lucy Talbott
ISBN: 979-8987089521

Supporting Spectacular Girls, by Helen Clarke
ISBN: 1787755487

The Spectrum Girl's Survival Guide, by Siena Castellon
ISBN: 178775183X

The abilities in me: Autism, by Gemma Keir and Adam Walker-Parker
ISBN: 1095358227

The Autistic Brain, by Temple Grandin and Richard Panek
ISBN: Unknown

Understanding and Managing Autism in Children, by Oliver Harris
ISBN: 979-8499887202

Information and resources


Ambitious about autism

Autism Central
Autism Central is a peer education programme, commissioned by NHS England. It aims to build knowledge and understanding of autism and empower families and carers to advocate for autistic people they support. Local support helps families to get the right understanding and adjustments in place across the services they use.

Autism and Bilingualism 
Should Autistic Children Learn more than One Language?  Find out how bilingualism can be good for everyone. If you are a parent, you will find guides available in many languages.


NHS: Autism

The National Autistic Society (NAS)

Think Autism





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  • Page last reviewed: 8 February 2024
  • Next review due: 6 January 2025