A BBC programme about autism is set to feature a Salisbury woman. 

Inside Our Autistic Minds, hosted by naturalist Chris Packham, will air on Tuesday, February 14 at 9pm.

Packham was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, a condition that has now officially been absorbed into the definition of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), in his early 40s.

With his own story helping facilitate understanding of autism, Chris will interview others living with autism during the programme to display the range of experiences.

Flo Taylor, 29, grew up in Salisbury and said she always knew she was different, but didn’t understand how.

She never suspected autism, but her stepfather encouraged her to undergo an evaluation in her early 20s.

In her search for answers, she agreed with the intention of ruling autism out as the cause for her differences and problems.

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She said: “I was hoping that whatever was different about me could be fixed with medicine or therapy.”

Although she was originally anxious about the diagnosis, the revelation was ultimately a relief.

Flo said: “It was an explanation for all the things I did growing up.”

Now a comedian, she realised from a young age that making people laugh was a way to stop people from bullying her.

She grew up watching classic comedies such as Laurel & Hardy and recognised the timelessness of comedy, using it as a way to fit in.

Flo said: “If I could make people laugh, they wouldn’t bully me.”

Flo also learned a lot of her facial expressions and behaviours from television and films.

She said: “I was doing a lot of masking behaviour growing up.”

Masking is “an unconscious strategy all humans develop whilst growing up in order to connect with those around us,” according to Dr. Hannah Belcher of the National Autistic Society, who was diagnosed with Asperger’s at the age of 23.

Flo described masking like preparing for the acting role of her life.

She said: “I’ve always acted my whole life, whether I’m on stage or at Tesco, acting as a normal person.”

In Inside Our Autistic Minds, Chris helps Flo explain to her mother her different way of thinking.

Flo said: “I’ve masked for everybody in my life—except my husband—since I was a child, including my own mum.”

She said she hopes the programme can help younger people experiencing social isolation possibly due to autism symptoms.

Flo said: “I wish that as a teen or as a young person, I’d been able to watch something like that on television.”