Warning: this film features rapidly flashing images that can be distressing to photosensitive viewers.
For many Autistic people, simply moving through the world can be distressing in ways that can be difficult for non-autistic people to fully grasp. While neurotypical people are generally able to organise and interpret the sensory experience of the cacophony of a city street without much difficulty, for Autistic people with sensory processing issues, these everyday situations can be disorienting, agitating and even painful. In this short from 2012, the Nicaraguan-American animator Miguel Jirón, who has since gained recognition for his work as a story artist on Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018), invites neurotypical audiences to step inside the mind of an Autistic person experiencing sensory overload.
Starting at a bus stop, a character moves through a series of urban environments as common city sights and sounds – an engine backfiring, a flickering fluorescent light, a woman laughing – snowball into an overwhelming experience for both the character and the viewer. The short was created as part of the Interacting with Autism initiative from the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California, which featured educational videos on autism spectrum disorder guided by leading experts on the subject. For more on how to extend empathy to Autistic people, read this Guide.
Director: Miguel Jirón
Producer: Scott Mahoy
Website: Interacting with Autism