The National Autistic Society (NAS) has unveiled a potent ad highlighting how anxiety triggered by fear of unanticipated changes can lead to autistic individuals feeling isolated.
21-year-old Saskia Lupin, an autistic aspiring actor, plays the lead role in the spot, which follows an autistic woman on a busy train journey. The short film shows how sensory sensitiveness and unexpected changes on public transport can provoke feelings of nervousness and stress that render some individuals on the autistic spectrum unable to travel at all.
“I’m autistic and sometimes leaving the house is impossible,” says Lupin in a voiceover at the end of the ad, after a journey filled with bright lights, loud noises and depictions of other scenarios that might cause disruption for an autistic person on a train journey.
The spot was created by Don’t Panic London as part of the charity’s longstanding ‘Too Much Information’ campaign which seeks to improve understanding of the condition among the general public.
The campaign kicked off in 2016 with a film and VR project showing a shopping trip through the eyes of a young autistic boy, returning in 2017 with a film starring Holly, an autistic girl who is overwhelmed when she isn’t given enough time to process information.
Commenting on the latest spot from NAS, actor Lupin said her own experiences reflect those of her character in ad remarkably closely.
“Unexpected changes make me feel anxious, they make me panic, they make me angry but overall I feel confused, like I can’t do anything and all sense of rationality is lost. I felt really passionately about starring in this film to help improve understanding of autism.
“When I watched the film, I got really emotional as for the first time, I felt like people would understand what it feels like to be autistic and experience unexpected changes.”
The launch of Don’t Panic’s creative falls on World Autism Awareness Week. NAS has also revealed statistics to coincide with the push; namely that 75% of autistic people say that unexpected changes, like delays, diversions and cancellations, make them feel socially isolated.
Mark Lever, chief executive of the National Autistic Society, said: “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.
“We can’t make the trains run on time. But we can all make a big difference this World Autism Awareness Week, by finding out more about autism and the small things we can do to make the world more autism friendly.”