A WOMAN diagnosed with autism at 47 is using her experiences to deliver awareness sessions in Warrington with her fellow friend and volunteer.

Amanda Wood and Ann Peacey are Autism Friends volunteers and have recently delivered sessions across the town to businesses and community groups, including Warrington Police, who want to understand more about the condition.

Autism Friends was created by Wigan Council but Amanda and Ann hope by delivering sessions in Warrington, the town will create a project of its own.

Amanda said: "Back in October we went on training to become Autism Friends Champions.

"It's a Wigan Council Initiative which tries to raise awareness of autism. It's a peer support group for anyone on the spectrum."

Ann saw the event on Eventbrite and they decided to go along – anyone can become a champion and learn more about autism and how to spread awareness to others.

The pair have since worked with Warrington Borough Council, had contact with the job centre, Warrington Police and The Gateway.

Amanda is incredibly passionate about teaching people more as she has only recently been diagnosed with autism herself.

She said: "I was diagnosed last year.

"I had autism at birth but I have just been misdiagnosed in the past.

"I was 47 when I was diagnosed.

"I feel much better, it's like a validation, you look back at your childhood and everything just falls into place.

"When I was younger there weren't names for things and I didn't fit."

Amanda says one of the most important things for people to learn is that autism does not have to be negative.

She explained: "In our sessions, you go around the room and ask people what pops into their head when you say autism.

"More often than not, the thoughts are overwhelmingly negative."

There are five key messages which Autism Friends teaches and one of these is that people with autism have individual strengths and everyone is different.

Other messages include that it is a lifelong condition, you don't develop it, it is not a learning disability or mental illness and it can affect the senses too.

Amanda said: "We are hoping that Warrington will take this over themselves because this is a prevalent time to be spreading awareness because there are big misconceptions about it still.

"I'd love for it to be attempted by Warrington."

If you would like Amanda and Ann to deliver an autism awareness session please email wandsgroup2018@gmail.com.