Powerful video shows what sensory overload feels like to a person with autism
Yesterday was World Autism Awareness Day and in order to spread acceptance, an organization in the United Kingdom released a video showing what sensory overload feels like from the perspective of a boy with autism. In the wake of a report suggesting some people with autism feel stuck at home due to concerns about people’s perception of their behavior, this video is a great way to help promote compassion and understanding in those who don’t know much about the condition.
The National Autistic Society, a UK-based non-profit aimed at supporting individuals with autism and informing the public, produced the video showing a young boy with autism experiencing sensory overload as he makes his way through a busy shopping center. Check out this incredibly powerful video.
It’s anxiety-inducing to watch, which will hopefully help those viewing it grasp what it feels like to actually experience it. Each sound, each smell, each thing this child sees provides him with a lot more sensory information than a neurotypical child would receive. And as the video shows, the result is becoming overwhelmed and acting out.
But as the little boy says at the end, he’s not being naughty. He’s just autistic.
Along with the video, the organization released a report called ‘Too Much Information’ that reveals how badly understood autism is by the general public. In a survey of over 7,000 people with autism and their families, only 16% think the public understands autism in a meaningful way. 87% say people stare at their child’s autistic behaviors. 84% of autistic individuals think people judge them as strange.
And the saddest statistic of all? 50% of these families and their autistic child never leave the house because they’re worried about the public’s reaction to their behavior.
What the survey and video aim to do is increase not just awareness, but understanding and acceptance. So that when a family is out in public with their autistic loved one, they don’t have to feel judged and shamed for whatever behavior may occur. As you see at the end of the video, the little boy and his mother were getting stares from passing strangers — and they weren’t exactly stares of compassion.
Every parent knows what it feels like to have people judge them once in a while when an outing with their child goes poorly. The parents of children on the autism spectrum deal with that scrutiny frequently because of how misunderstood autism truly is. When strangers see an older child having a tantrum, some are quick to assume it must be due to bad parenting or that the child is simply ill-behaved. Of course, when it’s a child with autism, that’s not the case.
This video is incredibly valuable because it educates the public about parents and children navigating life with autism. We see the build-up this little boy experiences before he lashes out and tries to run. We see his mother’s face — her helplessness. It can be a powerful moment of understanding for someone who doesn’t know a lot about the behaviors autism can cause.
Maybe after a person sees this video, they won’t be so quick to judge and condemn when they’re at Target and witness a child having a meltdown. Maybe they’ll remember the video and that this might be a mother and her child with autism just trying to run a few errands without incident. Hopefully, it helps replace feelings of judgment and irritation with compassion and sympathy.
As the report states, “when people recognize that someone is autistic, and understand the difficulties they face, they’re more likely to respond with empathy and understanding.” That alone is reason to spread this video far and wide. Hopefully, it results in more acceptance and makes life that much easier for these families and their children.
H/T Huffington Post