We recently welcomed Maxwell Dean, former campaigns assistant at NUS Wales, on a work placement. Maxwell was diagnosed with autism last year and has campaigned for more flexibility from employers and recruiters for people on the autistic spectrum. Here Maxwell, who is working towards a career in communications, highlights some of the autism campaigns that have caught his attention, raising awareness and promoting greater understanding of the condition.
Too Much Information
A powerful film called ‘Can you make it to the end’ was at the heart of the National Autistic Society’s campaign for Autism Awareness Week last year. Filmmaking specialists Don’t Panic worked with the NAS to create a short film to launch their multi-channel campaign, filmed from the perspective of an autistic boy. This conveyed the sensory overload many with the condition face on a daily basis.
This resulted in coverage in a wide variety of publications and websites, from the Daily Mail to Mumsnet, and even a mention at Prime Minister’s Questions. As a result of the publicity generated Don’t Panic helped to achieve half of NAS’s yearly sign up target in just ten days. The video was extended into a virtual reality experience at shopping centres, conferences and specialist events and built into an app for use in schools.
The success of this campaign lies in its approach, giving the public the unique opportunity to directly see through the eyes of the 700,000 people and their families who, according to NAS’s own figures, don’t leave the house because they are worried about how others will react. This Australian campaign across social media and online channels celebrated the lives and talents of those on the autism spectrum by challenging stereotypes. Cinematographer Damian Wyvill collaborated with Autism Spectrum Australia to create a though-provoking video highlighting the invisible nature of those on what is a complex spectrum. The powerful video starts with a pregnant woman’s stomach growing, as the viewer is told that there are four babies born every second all around the world: “Each unique. A creation of brilliance,” adding: “Some of us are a different brilliant.”
What made this campaign stand out was its positive approach to the issue and its aim to encourage positive language and imagery within the country’s own national discussion and further afield.
This was shared on Autism Spectrum’s Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages with links to the campaigns dedicated website, which also includes individual autistic stories. The campaign successfully smashed autism stereotypes, earning international coverage, and won accolades around the world for its beautiful imagery and thought-provoking message.
Sesame Street Autism Awareness
This week Sesame Street debuted a new autistic puppet, Julia, as part of the show’s See Amazing campaign. See Amazing in All Children focuses on providing a platform for other children to see things from the eyes of a child with autism by helping them understand certain behaviours such as avoiding eye contact or slapping their hands. Through this they can help their friends interact more successfully in a group.
An interactive website provides resources for children and their families while a free app also has interactive storybook materials, story cards and videos through simple and clear language to make their lives that little bit easier.
What I particularly liked about this campaign is its focus on raising awareness of the issue among a young audience at an early age