See what a kid with autism sees for 90 eye-opening seconds.

​Imagine everything you'd experience while strolling through a mall — the smells, the sights, the things to touch...

Now imagine all of those feelings and sensations times, like, a hundred.

It might sort of feel like this:


Illustration courtesy of The National Autistic Society.

Too much information is right.

For many people with autism, overstimulation is their reality.

Being over- or undersensitive when processing sensory information (like sights and smells) is common for people on the autism spectrum.

So an everyday thing that many people might not even notice at the mall, like the spraying of a perfume bottle...

GIF via the National Autistic Society/YouTube.

... can be overwhelming for someone with autism.

To Jo Wincup, whose 15-year-old son, Ben, has autism, this reality hits close to home.

“Four years ago, my son had a meltdown in a shopping center after becoming overloaded by the crowds, bright lights, and smells. He started kicking me, shouting, and swearing. We tried to get him outside to help him calm down, but the people [lining up] for buses just stared, some even said really hurtful things. This upset Ben even more. He ran off into the bushes and refused to come out. I just wanted to cry, for the ground to swallow us up."

The National Autistic Society is hoping to give viewers a peek into this reality with a new and gripping PSA.

Seen through the eyes of a boy with autism, the video by the U.K.-based group takes viewers through a shopping center, allowing them to experience what living on the spectrum can feel like.

After he's overwhelmed by his surroundings and struggling with his mother (as onlookers gape at what appears to be a child acting out), the boy explains to viewers: "I’m not naughty, I’m autistic."

Photo courtesy of the National Autistic Society Society, used with permission.

It's important that we all understand what autism can feel like so that we can build a more empathetic world.

Although a large majority of people have heard of autism, a very small number of people actually understand how living on the spectrum can affect behavior. Many kids aren't necessarily naughty; they're dealing with a condition most of us can't experience firsthand.

Graphic courtesy of The National Autistic Society, used with permission.

A new report from the National Autistic Society found that 87% of families say people stare at their child who has autism, and 84% of people on the spectrum say others perceive them as "strange." Unfortunately, this contributes to the reason why nearly 8 in 10 folks with autism report feeling socially isolated.

"It isn’t that the public sets out to be judgmental towards autistic people," Mark Lever, chief executive of the organization, said in a statement, noting the research provided "shocking" results.

"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 center, or a ‘naughty’ girl having a tantrum on a bus, and don’t know how to respond."

It doesn't have to be this way, though.

The more we all understand autism, the more people on the spectrum can feel OK about being themselves.

“Autism is complex and autistic people and their families don’t expect or want people to be experts," Lever explained. But a "basic understanding could transform lives."

Watch The National Autistic Society's PSA below:

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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Canva

Prior to European colonization of North America, millions of bison roamed the Great Plains. By the turn of the 20th century, those numbers had dropped to less than 1,000. The deliberate decimation of buffalo herds was a direct attack on the Native American people, who colonizers saw as an obstacle to their "Manifest Destiny," and who the U.S. government engaged in a systematic attempt to eliminate or force into docile submission.

For thousands of years, bison were a sacred, inseparable part of life for Indigenous tribes of the Great Plains, used for food, shelter, utensils, and clothing, in addition to spiritual and emotional well-being. Wiping out the bison population nearly wiped out the Native tribes they were connected to.

Though bison numbers have increased significantly thanks to conservation efforts, governments are still grappling with the ugly legacy, and some municipalities are taking steps to try to repair some of the damage done. As one example, the city of Denver, Colorado has taken the step of giving some of the city's bison population managed by Denver Parks and Recreation to Native American tribes engaged in bison conservation efforts.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less