A new campaign is aiming to give people a new understanding about living with autism.
UK’s National Autistic Society has developed a virtual reality (VR) experience as the latest part of its Too Much Information campaign. It follows on from their short video, featuring 10-year-old Alexander Marshall, showing what sensory overload can look like.
The virtual reality film allows people to actually feel what it might be like to experience getting too much sensory information as the 360-degree video takes you inside the mind of a child with autism while they’re in public.
"The nature of the video has, for the first time, enabled people to understand the kinds of sensory difficulties some people on the Spectrum have. The initiative has allowed us to 'walk in the shoes' of someone on the spectrum," Autism Awareness Australia CEO Nicole Rogerson tells SBS.
Warning: Video contains flashing lights, bright colours and sudden loud noises.
56 million people gained a better understanding of autism from the National Autism Society’s initial short film. This VR experience provides insight into our ‘normal’ world from someone who perceives it as terrifying. By making people aware of what’s going inside an over sensitive brain, the organisation hopes people won't judge what they see on the outside – tantrums and meltdowns in public spaces.
“We need to challenge the myths, misconceptions and stereotypes that make autistic people feel isolated and make society feel so unwelcoming,” the Society’s website says.
The VR was based on real experiences from people with autism, giving insight into what an everyday location – like a shopping centre – can be like for them. Every sense is heightened; every noise, colour and movement is intensified.
It is the first of its kind and will be a powerful tool to help people understand autism as a condition that people can't 'see'.
"By experiencing some of the sensory issues some people on the spectrum have to cope with, people will be naturally more understanding and sensitive," Ms Rogerson says.
Updated to include comment from Autism Awareness Australia.