Throughout the program, we meet several autistic individuals, learning about their unique experiences with sensory perception throughout their lives.
The kids at Big Fun gymnastics enjoy trampolines, swings, and floor play as a form of occupational therapy. There, we meet Gene Hurwin, an occupational therapist who helps kids regulate their sensory systems through movement. The parents shed light on their kids' unique perspectives and challenges.
Artist Judy Endow uses painting to express her shifting, and often chaotic, visual perception. Through painted animation, Judy’s artwork and descriptions come to life. In sensory overload, her vision breaks up into fragmented pieces. Sometimes, colors and textures shift before her eyes. Judy sees fine details and perceives beauty in places that neurotypical people do not see.
While poet and author, Tito Mukhopadhyay, is nonverbal, he communicates by typing. Tito describes vision as the most overwhelming sensory channel. It can feel like shapes are floating around in a distorted way. Sometimes, his senses of sound, touch, and emotion blend together as he experiences synesthesia. Tito’s poetry reflects his dynamic perception of time and space and his appreciation for natural beauty.
Nick Walker was bullied as a child for being different than his peers. He studied Aikido to learn how to fight back. Nick found that his sensory perceptions gave him an advantage in Aikido, and he fell in love with the visual patterns he saw in the movement. As an adult, Nick has thrived and believes in the concept of neurodiversity.
By seeing through the eyes of others, we can learn to empathize with different ways of being. Autism is not just a deficit or a lack of being normal. It means seeing, touching, hearing, and feeling a different kind of reality. By imagining and listening to autistic perspectives, we can learn to value different experiences.