Living with autism

Symptoms, coping strategies, employment and supports

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Living with autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD) means you process the world in a way that’s slightly different to others around you.

While this can present a host of challenges, it also brings strengths that are unique to you.

If you are living with autism, understanding your condition, along with the strategies and supports available to you is the first step towards leading a more positive, fulfilling daily life.

What is autism?

Classified as an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), autism is a neurological and developmental disorder that commences early in childhood and can persist throughout your life in different ways.

It affects how you interact with the world around you and can influence your social skills, communication, and learning process.

Autism, or ASD, is not a singular condition but rather a spectrum, including a wide range of unique experiences, characteristics and ways of processing the environments you’re in.

Some people may have low support needs and lead more independent lives, while others may require more support.

While autism can also exist with other mental health issues or learning disabilities, it’s important to remember that autism on its own is neither of these things.

Some people living with autism may identify as having Asperger’s Syndrome as they may have been previously diagnosed with it, however the term is not currently used by clinicians in diagnosis.

An autism diagnosis can be given by a professional health care provider during early childhood from as young as 12 months old, or at any point throughout your life.

It’s important to note that you should always seek the help of a professional before undergoing any official treatment.

To learn more about the intricacies of ASD, explore our blog article What is autism?

Signs and symptoms of autism

Recognising the signs of autism can be an intricate process.

Autism symptoms can vary dramatically from person to person and from young children to young adults and beyond, given the nature of the autism spectrum.

However, common indicators generally centre around two areas: social interaction and repetitive behaviours.

Some young children may exhibit difficulties in social skills like understanding body language, making eye contact, or relating to their peers.

They might also display repetitive behaviours or have highly specific interests.

For others, sensory issues can be a big part of your experience living with ASD.

You might find you are hypersensitive to different types of sensory input like sounds, textures, tastes, or visual stimuli, which can lead to sensory overload.

Your learning process may also look different, meaning you pick up new skills in unique ways that align with how you prefer to process the world.

While there are some common challenges associated with autism that are fairly general, no two lived experiences are the same.

If you’re unsure whether you could be living with autism, you may find our article on how to know if you have autism helpful.

As always, we recommend seeking professional healthcare advice if you’re uncertain.

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Strategies for coping with autism in daily life

For people living with autism, daily life can present unique hurdles.

However, these challenges can transform into opportunities for personal growth by applying practical strategies.

There are many tangible and practical tools out there that can help you through some of the challenges you might face every day.

Some of the most effective include:

A schedule mapped out by visual cues like pictures, which can help you clearly visualise certain parts of your day, and provide more structure and daily routine. 

If you find transitioning from one activity or task to another challenging, using a visual timer such as an hourglass or a mobile app can offer a sense of control during transitions between activities, reducing anxiety. 

If you find some social situations daunting, you might find social stories helpful.

These are personalised narratives about social interactions that can help you predict and plan for the way a social situation might unfold.

This gives you a guide to refer to if you get overwhelmed, giving you a sense of predictability.

By setting up a space where you feel safe and comfortable either in your home, at school or at work can act as a sanctuary during overwhelming periods. 

To learn more about how you can use these tangible autism coping strategies, visit our blog.

Alongside these daily routine practices, there is also extremely helpful professional support available for you to access.

These supports include things like occupational therapy, where trained healthcare professionals help you learn and practice strategies that can assist you to navigate daily life in a way that is more suitable.

At the end of the day, it’s all about finding what works for you.

While that might be hard at first, with enough trial and error and some professional support, you’ll find effective methods that work for you.

Employment and autism

Living with autism need not be a barrier to fulfilling employment. In fact, many adults living with autism excel in their chosen fields, particularly those that play to their strengths.

While the way your condition affects you in the workplace will differ for everyone, as a general guide, jobs that involve pattern recognition, attention to detail, or working with data can be excellent options.

The key factors to remember when searching for meaningful work include applying for jobs that will allow you to use your strengths and looking for an employer and kind and understanding colleagues.

As long as you feel comfortable where you work, and enjoy what you do every day, there is no limit to the things you can achieve in your professional life.

If you’re living with autism and struggling to find a job, explore our step-by-step guide on how to get a job with autism.

If you find that you need some extra support on your employment journey, there are professional Disability Employment Services that can help.

Disability Employment Service providers such as APM specialise in helping people living with autism find and keep meaningful work and can help you every step of the job search journey from resume creation to interview preparation.

How to manage autism in your workplace

Navigating the professional landscape while living with autism can feel overwhelming at times, but it doesn’t need to be.

By practising a few of the following tips, you might find it easier to manage your daily life at work:

  1. Understand and use your strengths. From detail-oriented tasks to pattern recognition, focusing on ways to use your unique talents at work is a great place to start on your journey to fulfilling employment.
  2. Communicate your needs with your employer and colleagues. At work, communication and making your needs known is key. The more your employer and colleagues understand your situation, the more they’ll be able to support you along your journey. You may request to be assigned to a particular task that you excel at more often, or other reasonable accommodations to manage your autism-specific challenges, like noise-cancelling headphones or flexible working hours. If making these requests is difficult, consider other methods of communication such as an email or written letter.
  3. Work on your personal coping strategies. While personal coping strategies are great for outside of the workplace, they can be equally as effective at work, helping you manage stress, anxiety, or sensory overload.

If you are currently working in a place you love but are experiencing some challenges day-to-day, there are plenty of workplace modifications that can be made to help you get your job done more effectively and comfortably.

If you are finding it hard to communicate things like this with your employer, you might like to consider getting support from Disability Employment Services, who are professionals in helping people living with autism thrive at work.

The employment journey when you’re living with autism can come with challenges, but there is plenty of support and resources available to help you achieve a fulfilling and meaningful career.

How to support someone living with autism

Supporting someone living with autism is a commitment that begins with understanding.

Learning about the condition, being patient, and practising empathetic communication is fundamental.

Whether it's family members, friends, or employers, everyone has a role to play.

While every person living with autism has unique and individual needs, some general support tips that can help pave the way for meaningful relationships include:

  • Use clear, concise language
  • Respect personal space
  • Learn about their specific interests 
  • Become aware of any sensory triggers
  • Encourage professional support where necessary

To learn more about what these steps look like in action, read our recent blog: How to support someone living with autism.

Living with autism is a journey that looks different for everyone.

While persevering through the challenges that you face every day is hard, with awareness, understanding, practising personal coping strategies, and finding the right support, you’ll be able to navigate the environments around you more comfortably and lead a much more fulfilling life.

What employment services does APM offer?

APM is Australia's largest provider Disability Employment Services, a government-funded program which helps people living with injury, illness or disability find and keep work.

We can help you with things like:

  • Career advice
  • Finding suitable job opportunities
  • Meeting local employers
  • Writing resumes and job applications
  • Preparing for job interviews
  • Accessing training
  • Accessing mental health support
  • Ongoing workplace support
  • Accessing funding for things like uniforms and transport
  • Accessing workplace modifications to help you succeed at work
  • Workplace assessments to help identify what support is right for you

Ready to get started?

Register now to see if you’re eligible for our, Disability Employment Services program and start your employment journey.


Your personal job plan

APM helps job seekers succeed in their search with tailored job support and guidance.

Identify your strengths:

  • Many individuals with disabilities have unique strengths that can be valuable in the workforce. It’s important to identify and communicate these to potential employers.
  • At APM, we have a team of experienced career consultants who can help you to identify your strengths and match them to suitable job opportunities. Strengths can include things like creativity, empathy and perseverance that can be valuable in many roles.
  • Our goal is to help you find a job that suits your skills and interests, and we are committed to supporting you throughout the entire process.

Building a job around you:

  • Explore realistic job options where you can succeed
  • Develop a personal strategy that includes job searches, resumes and interviews
  • Discuss your support needs with your employer
  • Look at any requirements for equipment or workplace modifications to help you perform a specific job
  • Consider what support you might need when you start working

4 steps to making a positive change in your life

When you register with APM, we check your eligibility for the program, and help you get started. We guide you through the Centrelink process and your initial assessment, which decides your capacity for employment and suitability for the program.

Register with us, and we'll be
in touch in the next couple of
days to discuss further.

Meet your dedicated
employment consultant at
your nearest APM office.

Discuss the barriers you
, and employment needs.

Your employment journey


Our support doesn’t stop when you start working.

We also want to make sure you and your employer have everything you need to be a success together.

Depending on your level of support and the job you start, we work together to make sure you’re able to work safely and effectively.

This can include helping you access training, job coaching, performance monitoring, and understanding the workplace culture and what is expected from you.

We also support workplaces with proactive education to be aware of any impacts you may have so we can help avoid any misunderstandings and create a culture of support and inclusion.

If you need ongoing support for long periods of time we will also discuss this with you and establish a support structure.

Our goal is to see you enjoy rewarding and long-term employment and ensure you have the right level of support to succeed.

Get in touch with our teams to find out more.


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