For those who do not have autism, it can be difficult to understand some of the experiences that those on the spectrum have. That’s why many have created videos and virtual reality experiences over the years to help neurotypicals better understand what it’s like to live with sensory overload.
But this one, created by The Guardian, is unique in its own special way: it shares the perspective of an autistic teenage girl.
Whether you attribute it to biological differences, genetics, simple under-diagnosis of girls, or a combination of those things, there’s no arguing that autism tends to be diagnosed more frequently in boys than in girls. The girls on the spectrum who do exist may feel brushed off to the side and excluded for this reason.
But this virtual reality video delves into the perspective of Layla, a 15-year-old girl recently diagnosed as autistic, attending a surprise birthday party for her mother.
Throughout the video, she struggles, from wondering if she’ll be able to handle the party to getting overwhelmed when the room gets particularly noisy to cooling down in her bedroom and reflecting that it’ll take her days to fully recover from this situation.
Viewers can also listen to her thoughts as she struggles socially and tries to implement the coping strategies that she has learned in order to manage the effects of the disorder.
The inspiration for this piece came from recent scientific insight that women and girls with autism tend to be overlooked and under-diagnosed, perhaps largely due to the fact that they are better able to hide their symptoms than boys and men.
The script was written by Sumita Majumdar, an autistic woman, and it is voiced by Honey Jones, who is also autistic. The virtual reality experience was informed by a combination of interviews with other autistics and personal experiences from the writer herself.
Of course, the video does not represent the experiences of every person with ASD, but it is still a helpful tool in promoting understanding of autism and awareness that autism also affects girls and women—not just boys and men.
Check it out, but be aware: it may cause anxiety and may be overwhelming for some viewers, particularly those on the spectrum. Proceed with caution!
Want to see another virtual reality experience?
Check out this video created by the National Autistic Society in the UK!
A. Stout received a Bachelor of Arts in Writing through Grand Valley State University, graduating Magna Cum Laude in 2015. In addition to being a passionate autism advocate, she is a member of various fandoms, a study abroad alumna, and an animal lover. She dreams of publishing novels and traveling all over the world someday.