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Autism is a condition that many of us know the name of but few of us truly understand, especially from the perspective of someone who has it. A new PSA from the The National Autistic Society in the United Kingdom has launched to coincide with Autism Hour, 6 October to Saturday 13 October 2018, and is helping raise awareness and aide understanding of the disability.

The video is shot from the perspective of a young boy who has autism showing what it feels like to be him as he walks through a shopping mall. It shows how an everyday activity can be quite different, and terrifying, for someone with autism. It depicts a key issue for many autistic people known as sensory sensitivity. This means that what to many of us seems like ordinary everyday actions—a TV blaring, general chatter and noise—to someone with autism amounts to information overload.

What it’s like living with autism

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Sounds appear louder or more intense, people’s stares can seem more frightening and aggressive, and this build up of tension is what causes the little boy in the video to eventually breakdown when it all gets too much.

It’s a powerful reminder that this is not someone acting up and misbehaving, which it might look like from the outside, this is someone who is scared and this campaign wants people to realise that. “I’m not naughty – I’m autistic.” is their slogan.

“Most ‘neurotypical’ people have a filter between themselves and the world, one that allows them to choose which sounds to listen to or which visual stimuli to focus on,” says Richard Beer, Creative Director of Don’t Panic who made the film. “It’s how you can have a coherent conversation with someone in a room full of loud music, clinking glasses and people talking over each other. Many autistic people lack this filter: their senses can be overwhelmed by the number, volume and intensity of the tactile, visual and auditory stimuli around them. Even a seemingly innocuous situation can contain Too Much Information. We wanted to challenge viewers to experience 90 seconds in a familiar location like they’d never experienced before. And, perhaps, understand a little better what it’s like to have this sensory sensitivity next time they see someone struggling to cope.”

Learn more about people with autism and the new ‘Autism Hour’ campaign week and how you can better help those who have it at the The National Autistic Society’s website.

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Take a look below at the behind the scenes production on the making of the video.

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