Faces of Emotion

Distinctive universal expressions have been identified for emotions such as joy, sadness, anger, fear, disgust and frustration.

For most people on the Autism Spectrum, decoding facial expressions is a great challenge, which often leads to misunderstanding, frustration and isolation.

As you look at these faces, imagine that you are about to enter a conversation with them.

For each photograph, take the time to try and gauge their emotional status.

If you don't feel you can continue through all the faces, please go to the bottom of this page and read on.

Click on the first image to begin viewing larger images. Move the cursor over the image to show the emotion displayed.

As you studied the faces, you would have found yourself concentrating more than normal.

You may have felt frustrated at this exercise, at the uncertainty, at your mistakes. You may have eventually found the effort to be tiring, and too much work, that it was a pointless exercise and given up.

For someone with autism, this is the daily challenge of socialisation.

People are often totally unaware of the difficulty those of us labelled "High Functioning" have in these situations.

For us, interacting socially is more often than not exhausting and frustrating, which makes us anxious with the result that we often give up and avoid social situations.

Often our reactions, or our mistakes, in these situations, lead people to misunderstand us and interpret our reaction as an indicator of our attitude.

Understanding is the key to people on the Autism Spectrum leading normal, healthy lives. Your understanding of the challenges we face in navigating the everyday world, will help us not to feel isolated and alone.