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Forest Path

What is Autism?

Autism is a lifelong condition with varying experiences, encompassing differences in social interactions, sensory sensitivities, and understanding cues. Some adults get diagnosed later, having masked their symptoms, which can lead to stress and feelings of isolation.

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Social communication 

Autistic individuals often struggle to interpret verbal and non-verbal social communication. They may have difficulties with:

  • Processing information, especially in a busy group setting.

  • Taking things literally, understanding literal concepts, sarcasm or jokes.

  • Understanding tone of voice, facial expressions,  body language and gestures. 

  • Maintaining eye contact.

Autistic individuals may also struggle to understand other people's emotions, as well as understanding and expressing their own emotions. They may struggle with:

  • Forming and maintaining friendships.

  • General conversation (e.g., small talk or engagning in conversations about a topic they are not interested in).

  • Appearing insensitive or 'lacking a filter'.

  • Feeling socially overwhelmed / exhausted following a social event.

  • Understanding what is and is not socially appropriate.

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Repetitive or restricted behaviour

Autistic individuals often prefer to have routines or rituals, which can help them to feel relaxed and feel that their surroundings and circumstances are more predictable.

Changes in these routines, especially unexpected ones, can be distressing for people with autism. 

Autistic individuals may also engage in repetitive behaviours such as spinning, rocking or hand/finger movements. They may find themselves using an object in a repetitive manner, such as using a fidget spinner. These behaviours may be enjoyable to the person or help to reduce their feelings of anxiety or stress.

Sensory sensitivities

Many autistic individuals experience a heightened sensitivity to:

  • sounds

  • tastes

  • textures

  • smells

  • bright lights.


Sometimes these sensory sensitivities can be distracting or they can become unbearable to the point that the individual may avoid certain places so that they do not become overwhelmed.

Others can be seek out  particular sensory stimuli, such as certain textures or sounds as they enjoy the feeling or sense of comfort these bring them. 

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Highly focused interests or hobbies

Often autistic individuals develop interests that they become highly focused on. For example, they may enjoy a particular TV programme, football team, period in history or mode of transport. They can become 'experts' in these areas and really enjoy sharing their knowledge with others. They can spend a lot of their time focusing on these interests and find that this brings them a lot of joy.  

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