“We won’t accept a world where autistic people are shut away. We know that people don’t set out to be judgmental towards autistic people. The problem is that they often don’t see the autism, they just see somebody acting in a way that isn’t familiar to them.”
Mark Lever, Chief Executive of the National Autistic Society (NAS), which recently released a powerful new film, ‘Diverted’, to mark the first day of World Autism Awareness Week and their campaign “Too Much Information’ to raise awareness.
The film follows Saskia, an autistic actor, as she experiences unexpected changes to her train journey. It also that brings to life the anxiety autistic people experience, especially the 75% that struggle with unexpected changes like transport diversions, which makes them feel socially isolated, and often prevents them from using it. This is only worsened when they feel judged by those around them. But there’s something we can all do.
“It can be something as simple as not staring, or giving me some space that can make life so much easier. I have recently been served in the ticket office at my local station by a really kind man. When he saw how anxious I was about my upcoming journey, he took the time to write out a detailed plan of my route and run me through what I would need to do when I changed trains and alternative routes if something went wrong. I can’t explain how much that meant to me.”
In the words of actor Max Carver
“Empathy is the starting point for creating a community and taking action. It’s the impetus for creating change.”