Coronavirus restrictions have had a negative impact on the mental health of people with autism spectrum disorder in Salford.
The National Autistic Society found individuals with autism are seven times more likely to be lonely during the pandemic.
Jay Pen, a 32-year-old man on the autism spectrum from Salford said: “Just because I am sensitive to sound and light, does not mean I never want to socialise.
“We want to do the same things as other people, but just find it more challenging.”
Groups that some autistic individuals rely on for support have not been able to meet because of the lockdown.
‘I AM celebrating autism in Greater Manchester’ is an autistic support group in Salford which is holding zoom chats for those on the spectrum.
CEO of ‘I AM’, Helen Boden said: “There’s a risk that the people we support are becoming so isolated by COVID that they disconnect socially.
“Parents of members joining our calls have said that they do not come out of their room normally, so making these connections is a lifeline.”
Face masks can be a communicative barrier for autistic people as many individuals on the spectrum struggle with eye contact.
Arwen Walters, a seventeen-year-old with autism, said: “I really heavily on facial expressions as apart of communication.
“It is already scary going to the supermarket but now I cannot understand anyone, it feels as if everyone is angry when you can only see their eyes.”
Arwen is exempt from wearing a face mask but chooses to wear one to keep others safe.