Dissertation helps student broaden autism understanding

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Date: 26th Apr 2019

A third-year BA (Hons) Film and Television Production student at Buckinghamshire New University is looking to broaden people’s understanding of autism after putting together a documentary on the condition for his dissertation.Callum Dean

Callum Dean (pictured) said he was inspired by babysitting a child with Asperger Syndrome to develop Understand Autism, a 12min documentary where he has interviewed a range of people to ‘give a greater basic understanding of autism’.

The interviewees included a Manager for Additional Resourced Provision for Communication Difficulties (ASD) who has worked with children with autism in schools for more than 19 years, three people who have autism, and also their parents.

“Autism is something I felt like I have better knowledge of than a typical person, particularly its positive traits, but still I have tons to learn about,” said Callum.

“I have been babysitting a child with Asperger Syndrome for the past five years and this documentary is a way of not just helping myself understand autism more but also ensuring other people can understand it as well too.

“Areas I’ve looked at include the characteristics of people with autism, what they struggle with, and what the benefits of having autism are.

“I also look at how people with autism socialise and I’ve discovered some interesting things, including that some autistic people find it particularly easier talking online through gaming.”

Callum added: “I feel as though many of us know of someone with autism but don't really know how it affects them.

People are so acutely aware of behaviour and that we feel challenged and perhaps even threatened when behaviours or responses to sensory stimuli are different to what we expect as the ‘norm’.

“I conducted a survey of more than 100 people which showed 88 per cent of respondents knew of someone with autism but over half the people couldn't give a basic understanding of autism. Hopefully my documentary can address this.”

According to the National Autistic Society, which is marking Autism Awareness Month in April, autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how people perceive the world and interact with others.

This means people with autism see, hear, and feel the world differently to others.

It is what is known as a spectrum condition, meaning it affects people in different ways. Some autistic people, for example, also have learning disabilities, mental health issues or other co-occurring conditions.

See Callum’s film below.

Understand Autism

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