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Benefits for families with autistic children

Below are a selection of the benefits available to you to help you look after yourself and your autistic child. Some do not require you to have a diagnosis for your child before applying.

Bristol Pink Card
You can get a pink card from Bristol City Council by adding your child to the Disabled Child Register. It can be used as proof of disability and to get a carer’s discount at many local attractions. You do not need a diagnosis to get a Pink Card, and it generally arrives within a week. Click here to apply.

South Glos Network Card
The Network is for disabled children/young people who live in South Gloucestershire. The details on it can only be accessed by authorised council staff and NHS South Gloucestershire staff to send out relevant information to families, to plan appropriate services and consult with parents and disabled children/young people. Signing up to the network is voluntary but it enables you to receive mail outs such as details of holiday activities, play schemes and information about service developments. Click here to learn more

BaNES Rainbow Resource Card
Similar to the Bristol and South Glos pink card schemes, the Rainbow Resource card may act as proof of your child’s disability and can gain you free carer access to many attractions. Click here to get your card.

Carer’s Assessment
A carer’s assessment is carried out by your local authority to find out ways to help you in your caring role.
In Bristol ring the Disabled Children’s Team on 01179 038250 to request a pack.
In South Glos ring CarersLine on 01179 652200 carersline@carerssupportcentre.org.uk to request an assessment.

Disability Living Allowance
Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is a non-means-tested benefit that may help with the extra costs of looking after a child with additional needs. The DLA rate depends on the level of help the child needs. You do not need a diagnosis for your child to apply for DLA. To learn more, visit https://www.gov.uk/disability-living-allowance-children/overview
Click here for the Contact charity DLA guide
Click here for the Cerebra DLA guide

Carer’s Allowance
Carer’s Allowance is a weekly benefit to help you look after someone with substantial caring needs. You don’t have to be related to, or live with, the person you care for. You must be 16 or over and spend at least 35 hours a week caring for them, and there are other eligibility criteria to consider. To find out if your are eligible for and to apply for Carer’s Allowance, please visit: https://www.gov.uk/apply-carers-allowance

Carer’s Emergency Card
The Carer’s Emergency Card is a free service that can provide up to 72 hours of emergency support to the person cared for in the event of their carer having an accident or emergency. The Carer’s Emergency Card Benefit Scheme means you can use your card to get a discount at a wide range of places.
Click here for the Bristol Carer’s Emergency Card information
Click here for the Bristol form
Click here for the South Glos Carer’s Emergency Card information

CEA Cinema Card
The CEA card entitles the carer of a disabled person (over the age of eight) to go free. To apply for a CEA card, please click here to visit the CEA website.

Children’s Hospital Passport
The Children’s Hospital Passport is a document to help children with disabilities when going to hospital. The aim of the Hospital Passport is to provide staff with information about your child during a hospital visit. This information will help them work in partnership with you in meeting your child’s needs when using hospital services.
Click here for a passport for children visiting Bristol University Hospitals (Children’s Hospital, BRI, South Bristol Community Hospital, St Michael’s, the Dental Hospital, Eye Hospital and Weston General)
Click here for a passport for children visiting Southmead Hospital
Not in Bristol? Click here instead
If your child (of any age) is going into hospital imminently and you don’t have a passport, complete this form and take it with you – you may be able to email it to them

Clifton Suspension Bridge
Do you cross the Clifton Suspension Bridge often? For those who receive the high rate mobility element of Disability Living Allowance (DLA), you can apply for an annual pass for just £10. To obtain the pass, visit this page for an application form

Disabled Rail Card
Anyone in receipt of Personal Independence Payments (PIP) or Disability Living Allowance (DLA) at either the higher or lower rate for the mobility component, OR the higher or middle rate for the care component is eligible for one. Click here to read more.

Disabled Parking Badge
The blue badge scheme rules changed in August of 2019, making it easier for autistic individuals to get a badge. To apply for a blue parking badge, please visit the GOV.UK site
In Bristol, to apply for a disabled parking space outside your home, you must have a blue parking badge and use the application form found here: Bristol disabled person parking bay and line scheme.

Marriage Tax Allowance
Marriage Allowance lets you transfer £1,260 of your Personal Allowance to your husband, wife or civil partner – if they earn more than you. This reduces their tax by up to £220 in the tax year (6 April to 5 April the next year).
Click here to learn more and apply

Personal Independence Payments
Personal Independence Payment (PIP) helps with some of the extra costs caused by long-term ill-health or a disability if you’re aged 16-64. It replaces DLA for this age groups. The weekly rate is dependent on how a conditions affects the person, not the condition itself. For more information, visit the GOV.UK page on PIP and also the PIP parent guide from Contact

Bus Accessibility
The Extra Help cards help bus passengers with additional needs tell the driver what extra assistance they require. Whatever the need, these cards may be used to let the driver know in a private and discreet way. There are even blank spaces to fill in details of the destination or special instructions. Click here to learn more about bus accessibility.

Radar Key
A radar key opens the doors of many disabled toilets across the UK. It can be useful to have a radar key if your child needs more space, or you cannot use the toilet yourself without taking your child in with you. In South Glos, you can get a radar key for free from the One Stop Shop in Kingswood.
Click here to purchase a radar key

Free parking at Southmead and BRI Hospitals
If your child is in hospital, you may be entitled to parking discounts and access to staff canteens.
Click here to learn more

Help with Benefits

There are several charities and organisations that can help you get to grips with benefits and how to apply for them:

The DLA advice and chat for autistic spectrum disorders Facebook group is very helpful

We’ve created this Benefits and Funding Checklist to help you work through applying for various benefits.

Talking Money is a charity that has staff to help with benefits queries.

Your local Citizen’s Advice Bureau can help you with benefits forms and guidance.

There are also several local Advice Centres that may be able to help you:
North Bristol Advice Centre (Lockleaze)
South Bristol Advice Centre (Withywood)
East Bristol Advice Centre (Fishponds)
St Paul’s Advice Centre
ACFA (various locations)
South Glos ‘One Stop Shops’ (various locations)

Various charities and organisations can help you fill out the DLA application. Citizens Advice Bureau , WECIL and Carers Support Centre all offer this service. Cerebra also have an excellent DLA Guide. You don’t have to face it alone!

Contact charity has a helpline on 0808 808 3555 where you can ask to speak to a benefits expert and find out what you are entitled to, and how it might impact on other benefits. They also have a benefits calculator.

Turn2Us has a confidential, online benefits calculator here.

If you are struggling with your bills please reach out to your suppliers as they will be able to assist.  For example Wessex Water can advise on help to pay your bills here.

Current benefit rates 
Click here for current benefit rates