A Dutch scientist has created and built a device that purports to allow neurotypicals to experience the world as autistic people do. A mom of an autistic child tried it out. Her report:
I visited the Headquarter in 2010, and I still recall coming out of the Headquarter and feeling completely flabbergasted. Literally. That world that was presented to me was not only very hard to follow and understand, but it suck my energy being in there, trying to understand what people on these television screens were trying to tell me. And realising that this is how people with autism, including my son, have to cope with the world, was hard. Visiting the Headquarter was disturbing, but also directly useful, since it helped us in improving our parenting. For example, we realized much better that we had to look for strategies to protect him from begin bombarded by sounds, and that we had to intensify our efforts at communicating as clearly as possible. So we now regularly allow/encourage our son to use a headset (to block out outside noises), also in settings where this is considered ‘socially inappropriate’; or we physically take him out of a situation that is exhausting him (family gatherings is a good example – way too much noise and voices and lines of conversations).
Boy, does this ever make sense to me, given our family’s experience with our son’s very, very mild autism. For a couple of years, when he was seven and eight, I believe, he had to put either Gregorian chants or a recording of Segovia playing Bach on digital tape loop, then play it REALLY LOUD all night long, just to get to sleep. It canceled out the ambient noise. We lived on a really quiet street, too. His bedroom was in the front room, so any poor soul walking by at night must have heard those chanting monks and thought we were conducting some sort of weird ceremony inside.