Does the prospect of walking through a shopping mall make you anxious? Then you likely can't even begin to comprehend the triggers that can set off a child with autism.
In a short video released by The National Autistic Society to coincide with World Autism Awareness Day this weekend, viewers are tasked with going inside the mind of a 10-year-old boy who has the disorder as he walks through a mall with his mom. Shot in first-person, the short film — which is best viewed with headphones and in full-screen mode — starts benignly enough until the smallest of details become impossible to ignore.
The crinkle of a party balloon becomes akin to nails on a chalkboard, and loose change falling to the floor is all but deafening. Flashing lights, a pair of untied shoelaces, an otherwise friendly smile from a stranger — even the boy's own mother offering her hand — it all becomes too much. Panic ensues.
The last few seconds, in which the child lashes out in public, is often the only part you'd actually notice in real life.
The title of the video asks, "can you make it to the end?" Even if you could get through the 90-second video without feeling more than a few moments of discomfort by the sensory overload, just keep in mind: you're able to turn off this screen and take off your headphones.
For many kids on the autism spectrum, this is how they see the world every single day. For some, this walk through the mall might have even seemed calm compared to what it's really like.
As the video reminds us, "understand autism, the person, and what to do."