Adulthood

There are thousands of autistic adults in Victoria and across Australia. Every autistic person is different, with different abilities, characteristics and needs.

Supports and services for adults

Many autistic adults were diagnosed as children or adolescents. Others learn of their autism as adults.

Some autistic adults need support throughout their lives, others live fairly independent lives. As with everyone, autistic individuals need a network of people to enrich their lives and to provide emotional support.

If you’re considering an autism diagnosis please contact the Amaze Autism Advisors on 1300 308 699, email info@amaze.org.au or use the webchat on this site. This service is open from 8am–7pm, Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays).

Read more about assessment and diagnosis.

Autistic adults who need significant ongoing support may be eligible for funded support through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). For further information, explore the NDIS section of this site or call 1300 308 699.

Here are some other forms of financial support that may be available to autistic adults:

  • Centrelink is an Australian Government agency responsible for delivering a wide range of services and unemployment benefits to Australians on a low income or without an income. Payments include; Newstart, Disability Support Pension (DSP), Rent Assistance, Mobility Allowance, Youth Allowance and Austudy.
  • There are Medicare rebates available to adults who require the services of an allied health professional. Read Amaze’s Medicare information sheets or call the Amaze Autism Advisors on 1300 308 699 for more information.

Personal Finances

  • MoneyHelp is a not-for-profit service funded by the Victorian Government to provide free, confidential and independent financial advice to Victorians.  MoneyHelp may be able to assist if you’re having difficulty paying your rent or mortgage, facing job loss or reduced working hours or having trouble paying credit cards and bills. Call 1800 149 689 to speak to a professional financial counsellor on the phone advice line.
  • Money Smart is an initiative of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) and aims to help ordinary Australians take steps to improve their personal finances.
  • The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) website section on people with disability includes information on tax and superannuation concessions and exemptions for individuals and people managing the finances of a person with disability.
  • The Companion Card promotes the rights of people with disability, who require a companion to access the community, to fair ticketing at Victorian events and venues. Call 1800 650 611 for more information.
  • Money Minded is a free online adult financial education program developed by ANZ in consultation with community and government stakeholders and education experts. There are a full suite of interactive activities that are designed to improve money management skills.
  • Vicroads has introduced short-term registration for cars to make it more affordable to own and run a car.

Education for adults or lifelong learning is the process of gaining knowledge and learning new skills throughout your life. Many people continue their education for personal development and fulfillment, while for others it’s necessary for career advancement.

Learn Local is a Victorian Government initiative which has information on adult learning options and links to providers.

Being employed is an important part of life. It can allow individuals to use and develop their skills in their chosen area in exchange for pay.

In the workplace, there are some rules about how to work with your team, socialise with your colleagues and develop professional relationships.

Read Amaze’s information sheet, Social Skills in the Workplace and Employment page for more information.

If you’re interested in hearing the stories of other autistic Australians who are working, or would like to work, you can watch Spectrospective: Work for free now

Mentoring

Mentor programs are one way for autistic people to get experience and advice on finding work.

Opportunities to be a mentor:
  • The Choice Mentors program by Valid is seeking mentors to help NDIS participants to explore options and opportunities and feel more confident with decision-making processes.
  • Try Mentoring supports volunteers to empower, guide and listen to young people as a fully trained mentor.

Autistic individuals have a range of choices depending on their support needs and how they’d like to live.

Autistic adults who don’t need daily support may choose to live with family or independently. You can find out about housing from:

  • The Victorian government has information on social housing, rental assistance, public tenancy.
  • Tenants Victoria promote and protect the rights of tenants and residents in all forms of residential accommodation in Victoria.
  • Centrelink provide eligible individuals with a regular extra payment if you pay rent and get certain payments from them.
  • Crisis and Emergency accommodation support is available from the Salvation Army Crisis Centre on 1800 825 955 or 1800 627 727.
  • Ask Izzy is a website operated by Infoxchange, which gives access to information on shelter, food, health providers and other essential services for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness in Australia. Ask Izzy should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional legal or medical advice, counselling or similar services.

Autistic adults who do need daily support may choose to live with family or away from home in supported accommodation. There are different supported accommodation options:

  • Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) is specialist accommodation for people who require significant support with their daily activities. The accommodation is usually a group home for 4 to 6 individuals with disability. You’ll need to be an NDIS participant and have SDA in your plan to access this type of supported accommodation.
  • Support Residential Services (SRS) are privately run services that provide some daily living support to people who need it, however they’re not disability specific.

Other options and resources

  • Autistic adults who need additional support with daily activities but are not accessing an SDA or SRS may be eligible for funded support through the NDIS via the Supported Independent Living (SIL) support category. If the individual is an NDIS participant they can request that SIL be included as a reasonable and necessary support in their NDIS plan. If the individual isn’t an NDIS participant, find out more about accessing the NDIS.
  • AMIDA – Action for More Independence & Dignity in Accommodation is a disability advocacy group with a focus on accommodation, that offers information including the video ‘Housing Know Your Rights (for SDA residents).
  • Homeshare is a program that brings together older householders or householders with a disability who could benefit from help in the home and companionship, with people of integrity prepared to lend a hand in return for affordable accommodation.
  • Homes that work, a guide to planning a suitable home environment for autistic people.

Mental health is an important part of wellbeing. Studies show that autistic people are more likely to experience mental health issues than the general population. Read more about autism and mental health.

To speak with an Amaze Autism Advisor about mental health, call 1300 308 699, email info@amaze.org.au or use the webchat on this site. This service is open from 8am–7pm, Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays).

For immediate support

  • Lifeline, a 24 hour telephone counselling service. Phone: 13 11 14.
  • Beyond Blue, a 24 hour telephone counselling service. Phone: 1300 22 4636

Interacting with others in a social setting may cause anxiety for autistic adults. Difficulties with social communication, social skills or finding social interaction exhausting may mean autistic adults avoid social settings.

Making and maintaining friendships can be challenging for some autistic individuals, however learning these skills can bring great social and emotional benefits.

Social Skills

Social skills are the skills we use to communicate and interact with each other, both verbally and non-verbally, through gestures, body language and our personal appearance. Autistic adults may have to learn and practice social skills and understand that there are ‘social rules’ they should try to follow in order to have successful social interactions and make friends.

For more information on improving your social skills you could:

  • Seek help through a psychologist or speech pathologist who can help to train you in social skills.
  • Participate in a group social skills training program; these are often delivered by therapy services.
  • Join an autism peer support group.
  • Consult books, search Library Link Victoria for relevant book titles to borrow from local libraries or ask the librarian at your local library.
  • Read this WikiHow post on developing social skills.

Friendships

All adults have different friendships throughout their life. Sometimes as an adult it can be harder to make friends outside the structure of school. If you’re not working or studying you can become socially isolated.

Due to social anxiety, difficulty with social communication and past negative experiences it can be even harder for autistic adults.

It’s important to understand the difference between people who are friendly towards you and actual friends – our information sheet, Friends vs friendly might be helpful.  

Finding friends

When you have confidence in your social skills and want to practise them to make friends it can be hard to know where to start.

While there are some formal social groups, most friendships start from a common interest. Think about the things you like, then try and find opportunities for meeting others interested in that topic. For example if you like drawing you could see if there’s a local art group you could join or classes being offered by a neighbourhood house.

Here are some other ways to find other people with similar interests to you:

Women’s groups

Autistic Facebook groups

Positive and autonomous autistic identity groups

Sporting activities

Creative activities

Here are some ways to find creative activities;

Volunteering

Volunteering is another way to meet people and learn new skills. Find out more from Volunteering Victoria

Romance and autism

All humans need companionship and intimacy. Challenges with social interaction can make it difficult for autistic individuals to find a partner and to have a romantic relationship – but it is possible.

Autistic individuals have some positive characteristics that are important assets in a relationship, such as loyalty, reliability, honesty, commitment and punctuality.

Apart from social difficulties, those characteristics that make romantic relationships difficult include sensory problems, understanding expected behaviour, understanding the other person’s reactions and intentions, controlling anxiety and being flexible.

Autistic individuals can improve their abilities in these areas by becoming aware of what is expected of them, although this may not come naturally.

Read more about Romantic relationships and autism on our Resources page.

  • Family Planning Australia offers advice and support to individuals with disabilities, surrounding relationships and sexuality.
  • Asperger’s Victoria hosts a Partner’s Peer Group Meeting for people who are partnered with someone on the spectrum. Asperger’s Victoria also have counsellors who have experience working with people on the spectrum and may be able to support positive relationships.
  • Relationships Australia aim to support all people to achieve positive and respectful relationships, for more information and counselling services.

The Office of the Public Advocate (OPA) promotes the ‘rights, interests and dignity of people with a disability’ providing guardianship and advocacy services. Call 1300 309 337 for advice on adult rights, powers of attorney, guardianship and more.

If you are an NDIS participant or aged over 65 and require significant daily support you may be eligible to transition to, or access, My Aged Care. This is the starting point to access Australian Government funded services. Call 1800 200 422 for more information.

Sometimes it can be difficult for an autistic individual to have their voice when navigating the system. There are many types of advocates that specialise in different fields, such as children, funding, legal and regional.

Please contact the Amaze Autism Advisors on 1300 308 699 or email info@amaze.org.au to find an advocate who can best support your needs.

For more information

Contact the Amaze Autism Advisors on 1300 308 699, email info@amaze.org.au or use the webchat on this site. This service is open from 8am–7pm, Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays).

You might also find these resources helpful:

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