April is Autism awareness month, and while most people have heard of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) which affects millions of people worldwide, there are still some major hurdles to overcome in the realm of perception. To fight stigmatization and broaden understanding, a touching video released by The National Autistic Society seeks to give insight into how autistic children see the world.
When people observe a child with autism act out in public, they are often unaware of all the factors at play. The casual observer may assume the child is just being “naughty” or difficult. This misunderstanding can negatively affect the child and lead them to feel marginalized. According to a report by The National Autistic Society, 79 percent of people with autism feel socially isolated and 84 percent feel that other people judge them as strange.
This developmental disorder, which is distinguished by difficulty with communication and social interaction, makes it particularly hard for those affected to process and share their feelings. When seeming to have a meltdown in public, they may be attempting to cope with a stressful situation heightened by sensory sensitivity — without communication skills the challenging behavior is often misconstrued. The “Too Much Information" campaign seeks to raise awareness about what to do when someone with autism is experiencing "information overload" — because stopping and staring will only hurt. To understand what leads to a meltdown and how to help, these are some leading symptoms:
Oftentimes the world can feel overwhelming to a person with autism. In a new or busy space they may feel overloaded by certain senses and unable to block them out. They may experience it in one or more of their senses, and this hyper-sensitivity can cause distress, anxiety, and even physical pain. The video shows just how overwhelming these seemingly normal things can be whether it is a flashing of the lights, background noise, the feeling of fabric against skin, or the smell of perfume.
Repetitive behaviors and highly focussed interests are a core symptom of autism. The world can feel very unpredictable to those with autism, and these behaviors may help focus or comfort them. Common repetitive behaviors such as rocking, jumping, hand-flapping, and vocal repetitions may be judged as strange to those who are unaware. However, one in every 68 children in the US are on the autism spectrum, and this life-long developmental disorder is much more common than most think.
In the fight for understanding, the TMI campaign suggests that when dealing with a meltdown in public take time to allow the child to recover, bring them to a quiet place that minimizes stimuli and can reduce stress, and try to empathize with how they must feel when overwhelmed. The video encourages that just by broadening your understanding, you can make a positive change — "So if you see someone having a meltdown, don’t judge them – think ‘TMI’ instead. It can make a world of difference to someone like my son."
Watch the entire video here and support the campaign to understand autism: