Information for families about autism and ADHD

There is now a handbook for Kent families who would like to know more about autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children.

The handbook

Developed with help from parents and carers of children waiting for an assessment for autism and/or ADHD in the Canterbury area, the handbook includes sections on where to go for help with health, education, rights and benefits, and a listing of local and national organisations. We’ve also included tips that may help manage your child’s behaviour and pages for you to make notes.

The handbook was produced at the end of 2019 and was originally designed to be printed before the COVID-19 pandemic to provide information about support available for ADHD and/or autistic children and young people. Some of the information may be out of date.

If you have any questions about content you can email

You can either read the full handbook (PDF, 1.3 MB) or specific sections below.

A child or young person's behaviour

Some children have behaviours that parents find difficult to manage and that cause considerable stress to the whole family. It is useful to try to start to identify the reasons for certain behaviours from the child’s perspective and considering what the child is trying to communicate through their behaviour.

Our advice about behaviour section (PDF, 447.5 KB) from our handbook outlines what triggers you can look out for, and how to understand your child's difficulties.

Common myths about autism and ADHD

In our common myths section (PDF, 117.8 KB) of the handbook we answer truthfully about the common myths about autism and ADHD.

Family life with autism and ADHD

Having an autistic child or one with ADHD can put a lot of strain on you and your family. You might need to spend a lot of time helping your child get the support they need. This can be very stressful and exhausting and can affect your relationships with each other. If you feel you need help, you can get support from lots of places.

Our family life with autism and ADHD section (PDF, 232.4 KB) sets out how your family can support your child and how you can support your other children.

Glossary of terms

We understand that sometimes the language we use may be confusing to some, so we have put together a list of the commonly used words and abbreviations that you might hear when looking into support for your special educational needs and disabilities child.

Read our glossary of terms (PDF, 97.1 KB).

Studies of autism in Kent

In 2019, Healthwatch spoke with families accessing support for their children who may be autistic to explore the issues they face. As a result of this they have recommended a number of actions supporting schools, families and professionals. Read the full report.

North East London NHS Foundation Trust (NELFT) have also worked closely with a researcher at University College London and a talented group of autistic young people to create a leaflet and animation about what helps autistic teenagers to get a good night’s sleep.

Download the leaflets and watch the video explaining the study.

Making it work: Kent and Medway’s transformation of neurodiversity support

With the help of parents and carers, work is going on to transform the health and care support for neurodiverse children and young people (such as autistic children and children with attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder) in Kent and Medway.

A new support network for neurodiverse children and young people, their parents and carers is being developed by a range of professionals in Kent and Medway. This is in response to feedback that parents and carers have consistently reported feeling unsupported when looking for help with the health and care they need for their children and young people.

Find out more about this work and how you can contribute your views.