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Autism is most distinctly defined by high social anxiety and problems understanding social norms, as well as focused logical thinking rather than emotional understanding.

Strengths can include 

  • attention to detail - precision and diligence

  • visual acuity

  • creative and artistic ability - innovative skills

  • mathematical aptitude and technical understanding - problem-solving abilities

  • Unique interests - expertise in 'niche' areas

  • character strengths - integrity, sincerity and loyalty

Key challenges can include

  • struggling to grasp others' thoughts or emotions unless having them explained

  • being overwhelmed by the intensity of feelings

  • experiencing heightened anxiety in social situations

  • difficulty in forming group friendships, often preferring solitude and the company of one good friend

  • coming across as tactless, impolite, or disinterested in others unintentionally

  • facing challenges in expressing emotions verbally

  • taking expressions literally, such as struggling with sarcasm or idiomatic phrases like "break a leg"

  • strong attachment to daily routines, leading to significant distress when they change

  • lack of comprehension of social norms, like not interrupting others

  • aversion to making eye contact unless the habit is instilled

  • discomfort with physical proximity, often reacting strongly if touched or approached closely

  • heightened sensitivity to small details, patterns, smells, or sounds that often go unnoticed by others

  • intense passion for specific subjects or activities

  • preferring meticulous planning before engaging in tasks or events

  • Rejection sensitive dysphoria (severe emotional pain because of a failure or feeling rejected)

Female autism 

Many women may not realize they have autism until they reach adulthood. This is due to girls and women being more able to conceal their symptoms. In addition, current assessment measurements are insensitive to female autism criteria. This combination can result in a lack of appropriate support.

Experts suggest that adult women and girls are more prone to masking their autism symptoms, especially those on the lower support needs spectrum within autism.

Typical forms of masking include:

  • making an effort to maintain eye contact in conversations

  • planning jokes or phrases in advance for use in social interactions

  • emulating the social conduct of others

  • imitating facial expressions and gestures

Effective measures can include tailored support to foster

  • self-understanding and the confidence to unmask when in a safe environment

  • individual's unique needs, strengths, and interests that allows them to feel good about themselves

  • recognition of different communication styles and provide tools or aids as needed

  • successful navigation of social interactions and cues

  • a sensory-friendly environments and tools to manage sensitivities

  • daily life skills for independence

  • participation in social activities to combat isolation.

provide or facilitate

  • job training, coaching, and workplace accommodations

Lived experiences

We have gathered some examples of neurodivergent people's experiences and needs and how we can help support them.


Click on the box and then on each tab in turn. 

Please note: strengths and weaknesses are not gender specific.

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I am autistic

My name is Abeni. I was diagnosed at the age of 16 when I started college. I have never disclosed my diagnosis because I feel I will be stigmatised and lose my job. 

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I am autistic

My name is Adam. I have long embraced my autism as my gift. I am happy most of the time being me.  I have good friends and I do things I love.

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