Friday, May 16, 2014

'Spectrum,' a new documentary about autism, sensory perception

From the filmmakers at

“Spectrum” is a documentary about autism and sensory perception. The goal of the documentary is to combine fascinating interviews with stylized, mixed media footage to simulate visual and auditory experiences described by autistic people. 

One of the most well-known and respected individuals in the autism community, Temple Grandin provides a glimpse into her perceptual world and the science behind autistic perception. She believes that sensory issues are the most important subject to research about autism. 

“Spectrum” also features Tito Mukhopadhyay, an esteemed non-verbal autistic author and poet. Tito has been featured on the BBC and “60 Minutes” for his ability to communicate his incredible intelligence by typing on a computer. Tito shares his experiences living in a world of extreme altered perception. 

What is sensory perception?

Sensory perception refers to the way the human brain processes sensory information. We all have a sensory system for vision, hearing, taste, and smells. How our brain interprets this information creates the reality we engage with in every moment. 

Every person has a unique sensory system. Some people are merely sensitive to certain sights and sounds, like the sound of screeching nails on a chalkboard or images from a 3D movie. 

Autistic people can experience more extreme differences in sensory perception, like extreme over-stimulation or under-stimulation. For some, the sound of a fire alarm can be deafening and scary. Others, like Tito Mukhopadhyay, can experience synesthesia, or cross-sensory perception.

The goal of "Spectrum" is to understand and imagine how others can perceive the world. People with different types of brains experience a different perspective that we need to understand, appreciate, and accommodate.