Facebook PixelHow can neurotypical people understand what having autism is like?
Brainstorming
Brainstorming
Create newCreate new
EverythingEverything
Sessions onlySessions only
Ideas onlyIdeas only
Brainstorming session

How can neurotypical people understand what having autism is like?

Image credit: https://unsplash.com/s/photos/virtual-reality

Loading...
Spook Louw
Spook Louw May 02, 2021
Can we come up with ways for non-autistic people to get a glimpse of what it feels like to be on the autism spectrum?

In order to better understand autism, not just scientifically, but also emotionally, I think it is necessary for us to get a better feel for it. The difference between sympathy and empathy can be vital when trying to provide support for someone.

If there was a good way to simulate the experience it could help neurotypical people better understand and get along with neurodivergent people. This is especially important during childhood where wrong interactions can leave psychological scars for life.

Auti-sim was a game created to recreate some of the hypersensitivity that is often associated with autism, but technology has evolved a lot since its production and it is by no means a complete portrayal.

Carly's cafe is a video created by Carly Fleischmann, an artist on the autistic spectrum, to portray her experience with autism.

Walking down the street is a video by Craig Thompson comparing how something like walking down the street, which might be a mundane activity for the majority of the population might be horrifying for someone with autism.

VR technology has been used to raise awareness about and help people with autism before, but it has been done for taylor-made situations.

Input from people on the autism spectrum would be greatly appreciated. I don't know much about it, but I am eager to understand. Except for the sensory overload, which seems to be a common occurrence in the accounts from people with autism, what else should be recreated in the experience and how can we do it?

[1]https://youtu.be/y4vurv9usYA

[2]https://www.forbes.com/sites/solrogers/2019/04/03/how-virtual-reality-can-help-those-with-autism/?sh=f933fe5198e8

7
Creative contributions

Be forced into a routine

Loading...
Spook Louw
Spook Louw May 02, 2021
Many people with autism tend to have strict routines, rituals and obsessions. The VR systems could be programmed to go into "upset mode", which will be uncomfortable for the user, whenever a certain routine or ritual is skipped, or a special item is not in its exact place.

Taking a specific route to a place you visit regularly, touching an item (a button could be installed in a toy that disarms the alarm in the VR set) every time you come within a certain range of it, or spending an allocated amount of time doing something every day could help us understand how autism can affect everyday life, as well as why certain things are extremely important to people with ASD.

[1]https://raisingchildren.net.au/autism/behaviour/understanding-behaviour/obsessive-behaviour-asd

Loading...
Darko Savic
Darko Savic11 days ago
The AR (augmented reality) set would need to incorporate a pretty powerful AI that can "understand" when the person has diverged from the ritual and turn on the "upset mode".
Loading...
Spook Louw
Spook Louw11 days ago
Darko Savic There are ways to simplify that, there could be an alarm that goes off every couple of hours unless a certain action is taken to disarm it, even something as simple as going to press a button in another room would work.
After the user has inevitably forgotten to do it a couple of times, they might be more understanding of people with ASD sticking to their routines.
The point is not to recreate the symptoms of autism completely, but rather to show neurotypical people that something they consider inconsequential and unimportant could have a big effect on your day and hopefully get them to support and even help facilitate the routines and habits of the people in their lives who have autism.

Distractions

Loading...
Spook Louw
Spook Louw May 02, 2021
In order to simulate the symptom of being easily distracted, as described by many with autism, the VR headset could be programmed to sporadically focus on a certain item and blur out the rest, or light could be increased in different areas of the user's view, forcing them to look in an opposite direction, similar to the way people with autism have described constantly looking around. This can also be done by sporadically introducing dots in the user's vision which they then need to focus on.
Loading...
Darko Savic
Darko Savic11 days ago
Add the headphones and do the same for audio simultaneously. Make it pass-through audio and video so that you can experience your real surroundings but augmented with distractions.

Then go mingle with people and have a few of them strike up conversations with you. Visit a supermarket in peak hour, a nightclub, etc.

The smell could be included. Also, a tactile vest that pokes into your back at random areas (https://youtu.be/4c1lqFXHvqI?t=532). The vest could be heated and cooled at random.

Try to concentrate under extreme conditions (a series of games)

Loading...
Darko Savic
Darko Savic May 02, 2021
Come up with a series of games (in person) where a neurotypical person has to concentrate on a task while being overwhelmed by various stressful situations:
  1. Have a meaningful conversation with someone while boxing against 2 opponents (light contact sparring). If necessary, sporadically turn off the lights for a second.
  2. Play chess with someone while being interviewed. Sporadically play loud sounds of glass shattering, firecrackers going off, children playing, etc.
  3. and so on
Have each person go through a few such games and try to overwhelm them in each until they can't take it anymore.

Would this help a neurotypical person appreciate how someone on the autism spectrum gets to the point of meltdown?

Made up phrases and metaphors in conversations

Loading...
Darko Savic
Darko Savic May 02, 2021
In conversations with non-autistic people, at random make up phrases and metaphors and act as if they are perfectly normal, common, and well understood by everyone. If they show confusion just continue as if nothing happened. If they stop you to ask about it, say "I'll tell you in a minute" and continue with the story.

In the end, explain that neurodivergent people that are on the autism spectrum often have a difficult time working out idioms, metaphors, sarcasm, etc. This is how it feels.

For you, this is an opportunity to practice your poker face while handing out unsolicited lessons and spreading awareness:)
Loading...
Spook Louw
Spook Louw11 days ago
Or, as an exercise, you can refrain from speaking at all and getting through your day. 40% of children with ASD are non-verbal according to https://www.healthline.com/health/autism/nonverbal-autism#symptoms.

Sensory deprivation for people with Autism

Loading...
Spook Louw
Spook Louw May 02, 2021
Seeing that sensory overload seems to be a consistent symptom when talking about autism, perhaps the same VR technology can then be used to help people with autism navigate situations where there might be too much stimulation.

"Sensory Isolation" has been experimented with for helping people with autism since the 1950s. But the idea I have resembles a mobile sensory deprivation tank more than the experiments they were working on back then.

If VR technology could be used to help turn down the volume of the senses, people with autism might be able to incorporate it into their lives to help make experiences like going to school or going to the mall a less overwhelming experience.

[1]https://psychotherapy.psychiatryonline.org/doi/abs/10.1176/appi.psychotherapy.1970.24.2.228?journalCode=apt

[2]https://www.oceanfloatrooms.com/autism-sensory-deprivation-tanks

Dr Grandin

Loading...
Spook Louw
Spook Louw May 11, 2021
I had the honour of presenting this idea to Dr Temple Grandin , the world-renowned animal behaviourist and autism spokesperson.
She pointed out how much autism can differ between people and how necessary it is to make sure that we cover the entire spectrum if we attempt something like this.

"I like the idea of using virtual reality to show what it is like to have sensory problems.  Sensory issues and problems with screening out background noise is highly variable between individuals.  I do not have any visual problems, but I do have problems with hearing conversation in a noisy restaurant.  Another person may have severe visual problems.  My sensory issues are a minor nuisance and for another person, they are really debilitating.  It is really important to show the wide range of sensory problems."

This is obviously something we have been trying to address properly, but we will definitely need people with personal experience's input to continue with this idea.

Perhaps we can think of a way to help people with autism articulate or demonstrate their different experiences so that we can have a database to work from.

[1]http://content.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1984685_1984949_1985222,00.html

[2]https://www.britannica.com/biography/Temple-Grandin

Exaggerated tautology

Loading...
Darko Savic
Darko Savic May 03, 2021
Tautology - the saying of the same thing multiple times in different words. Basically an inefficient use of language that makes the speaker appear foolish. A few examples:
  • "I went to see him personally".
  • "This is a new innovation"
  • hot water heater
  • "He made the hand-made scarf himself"
  • "There is frozen ice on the road"
  • "I saw it with my own eyes"


Prepare a few nuggets of exaggerated tautology, then drop them in conversations with neurotypical people. If they get triggered there's your opportunity to explain how a person with autism is often bothered by everyday tautology that others don't even notice.

Add your creative contribution

0 / 200

Added via the text editor

Sign up or

or

Guest sign up

* Indicates a required field

By using this platform you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy.

General comments

Loading...
Darko Savic
Darko Savic11 days ago
In this video https://youtu.be/ybPgmjTRvMo?t=199 from 3:19 onwards, Mark Rober tries to show what sensory overload feels like
Loading...
Spook Louw
Spook Louw12 days ago
By the way, auti-sim.com is an available domain name, which I think might be a great start for a company that produces the abovementioned product.