LIFESTYLE

What It's Like To Have Autism: Video Lets You Experience Sensory Overload For Yourself

A must-watch for World Autism Awareness Day.

01/04/2016 14:41 | Updated 01 April 2016

"I'm not naughty, I'm autistic. And I just get too much information."

That's the message that one young boy with autism is hoping to spread ahead of World Autism Awareness Day on 2 April, as a new report suggests that people with autism feel trapped in their own homes due to negative public perceptions. 

The video above shows what it's like when a person with autism experiences sensory overload. And it's certainly an eye-opener.

The clip follows a young boy who is walking through a shopping centre with his mum. 

Everything is fine, but then all of a sudden he begins to hone in on certain things and his senses become enhanced. Noises become loud and overbearing, there are bright flashing lights, it's terrifying.

The young boy begins to lash out and tries to run away. While some onlookers might see it as naughtiness, the reality is that the boy has autism and sensory overload is scaring him.

The powerful video has been produced by the National Autistic Society to raise awareness of the condition.

It has been released alongside a new report called 'Too Much Information', which reveals how poor public understanding of autism is isolating people with the condition.

In some cases, it leaves them feeling trapped in their own homes.

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A survey of over 7,000 people with autism, as well as their family members and friends, found that the majority (87%) said people regularly stare at them. 

A staggering 84% of people with autism said people judged them as "strange", and 79% said they felt socially isolated.

Half of both people on the autism spectrum and their family members said they sometimes choose not to go out because they're worried about how people will react to them. 

The National Autistic Society is now calling on the public to find out more about autism so they can respond to people with the condition with more understanding, rather than disapproval.

More than one in 100 people are on the autism spectrum, according to the charity.

"This means that someone sees, hears and feels the world in a different, often more intense, way to other people," they said.

People with autism often find social situations difficult and struggle to filter out the sounds, smells, sights and information they experience, which means they feel overwhelmed by too much information when out in public.

The National Autistic Society has worked with people with autism to create three easy-to-remember tips for the public, asking them to remember ‘TMI’.

  • Take time - sometimes autistic people need extra time to process information or to recover from becoming overloaded.
  • Make space - if autistic people become overloaded by the things around them, crowding will just make things worse. Step back or help them find somewhere quiet where they can relax.
  • Imagine - put yourself in the shoes of autistic people so you can try to understand what it’s like to be in a world where you’re bombarded with too much information.

Mark Lever, chief executive of the National Autistic Society, said: "Our research reveals shocking levels of isolation among autistic people and their families and indicates that hundreds of thousands of people feel so misunderstood that they sometimes can’t leave their homes.

"We will not accept a world where autistic people have to shut themselves away.

"It isn’t that the public sets out to be judgemental towards autistic people. They tell us that they want to be understanding but often just don’t ‘see’ the autism.

"They see a ‘strange’ man pacing back and forth in a shopping centre, or a ‘naughty’ girl having a tantrum on a bus, and don’t know how to respond."

He added that the 'Too Much Information' campaign aims to help everyone in the UK learn a little bit more about autism.

"Autism is complex and autistic people and their families don’t expect or want people to be experts.

"But our research shows that when people recognise that someone is autistic, and understand the difficulties they face, they’re more likely to respond with empathy and understanding.

"A basic understanding could transform the lives of the more than 1 in 100 autistic people in the UK, and their families, allowing them to go to shops, the cinema, and work in the way other people take for granted."

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