ROUGH CUT- DIGITAL MEDIA PROJECT

For my digital media project, I looked at autism and how people with autism are treated within society. I also looked at misconceptions and stereotypes within the autism community. My goal for this project is to make people more aware of autism and let people know that a person with autism is just like any other person. The information from my project comes from multiple sources. During this process, I had the privilege of doing a practicum/service learning opportunity at Marcy Open. I also did interviews and got information for various videos, websites, ted talks, podcasts.

I understand that many of you are not as familiar with autism as others. So first off, I will provide with the basic definition and symptoms. This is a definition that I received from the autism society ( http://www.autism-society.org/living-with-autism/) : A mental condition, present from early childhood, characterized by difficulty in communicating and forming relationships with other people and in using language and abstract concepts”. These symptoms were found on WebMD, difficulty with social interactions and relationships, difficulty with communication and/or nonverbal, and limited interests in activities or play. There are many other symptoms as well however, these are the most common. I hope this gives a better understanding to some of you who weren’t as familiar with autism.

Here is a video that I believe is a good way to introduce to my topic. “Just Like You” is an organization that works to create an accepting environment for all people. This video in particular was created for people with autism. Its purpose is to make people with autism feel understood and accepted. They talk about specific behaviors and tendencies that people living with autism have. They also give examples on how to handle different situations in a positive way. I think that this video shows great first hand accounts from different people with autism and I think that it is a great addition to my project. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S0w6carvS8k


At one point, I got to interview the President of U-nited For Autism, here on campus. This group raises awareness for autism and also creates a fun, inclusive environment for students with autism to hangout in. I am so glad that I got to do this interview because, I am now going to start going to their weekly meetings.

One of biggest things I aim to cover in this project are the myths and misconceptions that face the autistic community. Here are a list of myths and why they are false.

Myth #1- Individuals with autism are violent

This myth stems from the fact that sometimes when people with autism are stressed, sensory overloaded, or distressed they will have a tantrum of sorts. When they are in this distraught state, they may come across as violent. However in reality, people with autism have no higher chance of being violent or creating a danger to society than any other individual.

Myth #2- Individuals with autism are unable to be social or create relationships

Yes, people with autism do have a harder time in some social situations. However, they are not incapable by any means when it comes to their social lives. Many people with autism have a harder time reading social cues but if you expand on what you are trying to get across, there is a good chance that they will understand! Give them a chance, be understanding, and patient, take it slow, and you could find that you can have very meaningful conversations!

Myth #3- All individuals with autism have a mental disability

This is something that if you have no knowledge about autism or disabilities, you may be misconstrued. The autism spectrum is very large and people with autism have a wide range of abilities. There are even many people that have diagnosed autism and it is almost undetectable. However, there are also more severe cases of autism that are often associated with being mentally disabled. So this statement is a myth because no, not all people with autism are correlated with having a mental disability.

Myth #4- People with autism lack feelings and are “cold”

Many people with autism have a hard time expressing their feelings and end up having them all cooped up inside or they express them in ways that are harder to detect. However, people with autism do have many feelings, perhaps even more feelings than you or me. Give them time and give them a chance to express their feelings.

Yes, there are many myths surrounding autism and stemming from these myths are many “single stories”.

“The Danger of a Single Story” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Here is the link again, http://www.ted.com/talks/chimamanda_adichie_the_danger_of_a_single_story/transcript?language=e.n.

Adichie doesn’t talk directly about autism but, it connected right away in my brain and I have been thinking about it ever since we watched it in class. If you don’t remember, a single story is simply a stereotype. Adichie describes it like this, “So that is how to create a single story, show people as one thing, as only one thing, over and over again, and that is what they become”. I believe that many people create a single story of people with autism. They look at people with autism and see one big disorder. They categorize them as disabled and they believe many of the myths stated above.

However, people with autism are so much more than their disorder. Not one of them is the same, just like any other human, we are all different. They have feelings, likes, dislikes, they like to go out on the weekends, they enjoy the holidays…. They are a person. And they all deserve a fair chance.

Lastly, I wanted to give you all a quick idea of what the “take a break” area in the autism spectrum classroom I am in looks like. This picture is of the sensory/take a break corner. It has a purple cloth over the light to give it a relaxing mood and has a fish tank for students to gave into. There is toys, stuffed animals, comfy chairs, and some interesting sensory objects like lights and lava lamps.

Many of the students go here to chill out when the school work and the socializing is too much. Sometimes, I see some of the students talking to stuffed animals or just gazing off into space taking a “brain break”.

My point of uploading this picture is that sometimes people with autism are overwhelmed in situations, especially socially. When they get caught up in their words or completely shut down in a social setting, many people who don’t understand autism or don’t know they are diagnosed with autism misread them. These students are not rude and are not trying to cause a scene, they just struggle to communicate at times. Reiterating my statements from above, I believe that everyone needs to have a direct understanding and awareness of autism in order to give those with autism a fair shot.

Bibliography

Autism Society. Living with Autism. Retrieved from http://www.autism- society.org/living-with-autism/

Adichie, C. (2009, Oct 7). Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie- The Danger of a Single Story Ted Talk. [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9Ihs241zeg

Helgeson, T. (2015, Nov 12). Personal Interview with Pavlick.

Just Like You Organization. (2015, Mar 24). Just Like You- Autism [Video File]. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S0w6carvS8k

Silberman, S. (2015 September). “’NeuroTribes’ Examines The History — And-Myths — Of The Autism Spectrum”. [Video Podcast]. Retrieved from: npr.org