A jarring new PSA called "Make It Stop" replicates how Holly, a 12-year-old autistic girl living in the UK, experiences sensory overload.
But the ad doesn’t just help spread awareness and further acceptance of autism — starring in it has helped Holly disclose her own diagnosis to her peers in real life. She shared the video with her school during an assembly on Autism Acceptance Day on April 2, telling her friends and classmates about her experience with autism for the first time.
"Make It Stop" is the latest part of the National Autistic Society’s ongoing "Too Much Information" campaign, created in conjunction with creative agency Don’t Panic. The creators heavily consulted with Holly and other members of the autistic community to ensure the video reflected the experience accurately.
The National Autistic Society hopes the short film helps Holly and people like her to have more successful interactions, by encouraging non-autistic people around them to make small changes to their communication style.
"Understand autism, the person, and the change you can make," the PSA states.
An estimated 1% of the global population is autistic, and the condition can make it difficult to communicate or interact in expected ways. "Make It Stop" depicts how simple, daily interactions can pile up for autistic people, causing an overwhelming feeling of frustration as they struggle to process information.
As Holly tries to unpack all the interactions she has, the PSA’s sounds and subtitles overlap and compound, ending in anxiety-inducing cacophony for the viewer. Holly herself quickly becomes distressed and overwhelmed due to the overstimulation, and is on the verge of a meltdown. The end of the spot shows an adult checking in with her as she tries to cope.
"I’m autistic, and sometimes I get too much information," Holly explains in a voiceover.
A message in white text at the end of the PSA encourages viewers to slow down their interactions with autistic people, giving them adequate time to process information without added pressure.
You can find more tips and techniques for communicating with autistic people here.