For most people, the new rule mandating the wearing of a face covering in shops is at worst an inconvenience.

But for some living with autism, the wearing of a face mask feels similar to being suffocated.

For Penrith resident Daniella Sheridan, 27, this is what wearing a face mask feels like.

Daniella is one of a number of Cumbria's residents with autism making use of a new face mask exemption information card produced by Penrith-based charity, the Triple A Project.

The charity is producing the cards to help those with autism explain to anyone who might question the lack of a face covering why it is necessary for them not to be wearing a mask, or potentially any type of face covering.

Daniella, who is also a volunteer with the charity, explained how, as someone with autism, she has found it impossible to wear a mask.

"Having something that covers the nose and mouth is very difficult," she said.

"Not just because you feel like you're suffocating, but it also changes the way you breathe.

"I really struggle with it. Even though you know you're not suffocating, it feels like you are."

Given that someone with autism can be particularly sensitive to sensory experiences, be that light, sound or touch, Daniella explained that the sensation alone of having the mask across her face is something she struggles with.

"For me it feels as if someone has put itching powder on my face, and I can't get it off.

"I did try to wear a mask. I had hoped I was going to be OK but I wasn't.

"I went into a shop, and I almost had a meltdown.

"I just legged it out of the shop, I couldn't cope any longer."

For Daniella, she has managed to find a solution in the wearing of a face visor, which she is comfortable with.

But she stressed that given how individual the experiences of people with autism are, this would not be a solution for everyone.

"They might feel trapped, and for some people, the strap across the forehead might be a particular issue for them," she said.

Anyone with an autism diagnosis, or on the pathway to an autism diagnosis, can apply for an exemption card.

Contact the Triple A Project at to apply.