On April 1 the National Autistic Society launched their new campaign, Too Much Information.
In 2015 the NAS carried out a poll which found 99.5 per cent of people had heard of autism, so awareness is out there. However, what is lacking is understanding and ultimately empathy, and that is what is at the very heart of this new campaign.
The aim of their new campaign is to increase understanding about autism and make people aware of the fact individuals on the autistic spectrum can “see, hear and feel the world in a different way to other people”. Hence the theme, Too Much Information. The campaign shares research in relation to how autistic individuals and their families are judged and treated in the community. The powerful 90-second film shows how a trip to the local shopping centre can be overwhelming for an autistic child and results in autistic meltdown due to sensory overload.
As a mother to a young autistic child, reading the statistic is hard. The NAS states: “Eighty four per cent of autistic people feel people judge them as strange. Seventy per cent of families living with autism feel socially isolated 74 per cent of families living with autism say people tut or make disapproving noises.”
Viewing the TMI film is even harder. The end scene in particular cuts right through me. This is of a woman who gives a look of pure contempt towards the mother of the child who is having difficulties coping with all of the sensory stimuli in a busy shopping centre.
It is difficult to watch as I have had that very same stare, the stare which screams at you, ‘what a naughty child’, and ‘can you not control your child?’ In fact, I have been told in the past that my child is naughty and autism doesn’t exist, that it is simply an excuse for naughty children.
What this video urges, is for us all to be more empathetic towards a child and their family. It is the tuts and looks of disgust that truly hurt. That is why this campaign is so very important.
The words from Alex at the very end are what we should all consider and embrace. “I’m not naughty, I’m autistic and I just get too much information.”