Not many people know what it’s like to live with autism. With that in mind, my son created a series of videos to talk about his personal experience to raise awareness.
Diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) back in 2015, Oscar has learned so much about what it means to him. He has developed several coping mechanisms to deal with stressful situations, established some familiar interests and pass-times he can take pleasure from, even talked openly about it with his friends and family.
With a keen interest in YouTube and tech, we suggested he recorded a daily video blog post for Autism Awareness Week to talk about some of these topics and share with the public. When we mentioned he could also try to raise some money for our local charity, Autism Concern, Oscar jumped at the chance.
I wanted him to own the project as well (my new ADM role was kicking in). All the topics were under his control, we just made some suggestions beforehand. I wanted him to decide what detail he goes in to although, to help conversation flow, he wanted me to be in the videos too. I also left him to “edit” the videos afterwards, adding graphic overlays to support the content.
You can watch the entire series of videos on his YouTube playlist…
We’re extremely proud of what he’s achieved.
Within the first day, he reached over 100 views of his video (thanks to a few retweets from popular autism representatives) and 80% of his fundraising goal. Over the course of the week, his videos were shared across Twitter and Facebook. He had clearly hit a nerve. Like most Millennials, he strives for internet fame so he was extremely satisfied to see the fruits of his labour pay off.
Sharing the videos with my own colleagues was insightful too. It was lovely to hear positive feedback from peers but, more interestingly, it opened up dialog about others living with autism and the challenges it brings (along with the typical comedy moments). Several people approached me to talk about their nearest and dearest who are on the spectrum, how their families have learned to live with it, even the support they get from local services and charities.
I was glad it opened channels; this is what Autism Awareness Week is really about. We should be able to openly discuss autism, the range of different diagnoses and symptoms it covers, as well as how it impacts people. We need to shake the stigma attached to autism, we should be able to champion autistic “super powers”.
If you know someone who is autistic or lives with autism, I suggest doing something similar. Write, record and share your stories. By raising awareness, we can collectively embrace it and discuss how to make life easier.
Fundraising is still open as well. If you’re feeling generous, please drop a few quid on the JustGiving campaign to contribute towards future projects and support from Autism Concern.
(As a side note, we realised after the first few days we started the series a week too early. Rather than halt proceedings, we didn’t want to cause any additional stress for Oscar so continued recording and posting the videos. Red Nose Day was also approaching so we thought the public would be a in a more charitable mood to aid fundraising.)