Autism Awareness and understanding is something I am really trying to promote with the support of the Access Group I am volunteering with, Autism Anglia have been working with us and I want my hometown to become an Autism Friendly town, like we are recognised as a Dementia Friendly town. It is all work in practice but resources like this help others to understand.
A new virtual reality program simulating the experience of an autistic person in a crowded shopping centre is helping the public gain a better understanding of the condition. My throat feels tight, my heart is beating faster and I can’t seem to focus my attention on what’s in front of me. Someone walks past with some very colourful balloons. I’m distracted, then I hear a noise to my left and I spin round. Someone’s stubbing something out with their shoe. I see a cloud of too-bright pink vape smoke, and only then do I notice that a woman is talking to me, pleading with me to calm down. It’s hard to concentrate on what she’s saying with all this happening around me. I feel slightly panicky, like I want all the stimuli to stay in one place where I can control it. I’m in Manchester’s intu Trafford Centre. And while being somewhere as vast and busy as this does ordinarily give me the mild heebie-jeebies, the virtual reality (VR) headset I’ve just been wearing has taken it to another level.