Heating Support For People with Autism

The cost-of-living-crisis is hitting most families harder than ever. But, for people living with autism and for those that care for them – it can be even more stressful! With wages and benefits still not rising in line with current energy and food prices; finding a way to heat, eat and care is a constant worry!

What is Autism?

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects the way people communicate and interact with the world. It’s currently estimated that 1 in 100 people in the UK are on the autistic spectrum. This totals over 700,000 autistic adults and children – and that’s without counting those currently awaiting diagnosis. 

Energy Price Rises and the Effect on Autism

Although there are many key symptoms of autism; extreme anxiety brought on by unfamiliar or overwhelming situations such as rising energy costs can lead to individuals experiencing emotional meltdowns and sensory shutdowns.

But did you know that there are other lesser known symptoms of autism that can be severely affected if you can’t afford to heat your home properly? Autism and body temperature regulation issues often go hand in hand!

Studies have shown that many autistic children have an indifference to temperature that can present in two different ways: 

Hypersensitivity can make children more averse to hot or cold weather. This can cause them to experience changes in their core body temperature. Some children can appear to have a fever, even if they are well otherwise. Whilst others can feel cold; even if the environment is warm. 

Hyposensitivity can also lead some children to not being able to feel temperature changes in their body or the weather. This can lead to some refusing to wear appropriate kinds of clothing because they can’t recognise these changes.

Without the ability to regulate body temperature themselves; it becomes the responsibility of parents and carers to keep household temperatures stable. This can unfortunately lead to high heating bills and cooling costs throughout the year.

What Benefits and Funding are Available for Autism?

Although autism is officially classed as a disability – the scale of how much an individual is affected can vary greatly. While some people can hold down jobs and lead ‘ordinary’ lives so to speak; others may need to rely on means-tested benefits and around the clock personal care. 

There are many benefits available for adults and children living with autism and their carers. – Here is a current list from the National Autistic Society.

Cost of Living Payment

As a way to tackle rising fuel and food costs; the UK Government introduced the Cost of Living Payment and the Disability Cost of Living Payment in 2023. These are grants paid in 3 -5 instalments over 2023 and 2024. If you claim any of the following benefits – you should have qualified to receive this payment automatically. 

The final payment is due to be paid by the end of March 2024. If you are missing any payments – follow this link for more information on how to report it.

Local Welfare Assistance/Household Support Fund

Did you know that your local authority or council may have set up a Local Welfare Assistance or Household Support Fund in the past couple of years? These are separate emergency support schemes for those on low incomes and paid out in food, clothing or furniture vouchers. If you receive any of the above benefits – you could also be entitled to receive this extra support.

Unfortunately, at the time of writing this article, these schemes were scheduled to end on the 31st March 2024, with no further extensions or backdating options available. However, we recommend you still contact your local council – as they may have similar schemes that could still help you!

Priority Services Register

People with autism are entitled to be put on the Priority Services Register. To do this, you need to contact your energy supplier with your contact details and as much information about your needs as you can. As part of the register, you can claim extra support if power cuts occur and access services such as having your meter read regularly. These are all helpful ways to manage the symptoms of stress and anxiety. 

Government Schemes to Help Make Your Property More Energy Efficient

Did you know that there are Government-backed energy schemes designed to help make your property more energy efficient? If you are claiming any of the means-tested benefits already mentioned in this article; you are also likely to qualify for this type of assistance. ECO4, Great British Insulation and Boiler Upgrade scheme’s allow householders to upgrade their properties with solar panels, heat pumps and home insulation for free! This is a perfect way to keep your home at an ideal temperature….& save money on your heating and cooling bills!

Helping with Energy Debt

If you are still struggling to pay your energy bills and need further heating assistance, Ofgem has a useful guide which shows you how to contact your energy supplier and set up an alternative payment plan. It also covers the schemes and options available to you. 

Energy Advice Helpline

For regular updates on all current energy advice, benefits and government schemes that can keep you and your loved ones warm and well in these financially uncertain times – sign up to our newsletter today!

Here at Energy Advice Helpline, we care about supporting the people who need our help the most!

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