The human condition I was assigned is Autism.
To start my research, I read sections from two books:
I took some notes while reading.
Because Autism is such a broad disorder and every autistic person experiences autism differently, I didn’t want to attempt representing Autism as a whole in my animation. There are simply too many interpretations and definitions of the disorder, and every experience is unique. Instead, I thought I would represent a specific behavior or experience that is common to many autistic people. I came up with three scenarios and storyboarded for each of these concepts.
- Take a sensory break. Many autistic people have sensory sensitivities and can be overwhelmed by things like light, sound, smells, or visuals. This means that they get overstimulated. To calm themselves down and find peace, it is helpful to take a sensory break. A sensory break can mean putting on earmuffs to cancel out noise, sitting in a quiet room with very little stimuli, or removing yourself from a crowded situation. In this story board, “A” represents an autistic person. The room they are in becomes more and more populated and in turn, “A” becomes more and more stimulated by their senses in an overwhelming way. “A” leaves the crowded area to take a sensory break, where they take deep breaths surrounded by negative space.
2. Normative and repetitive behaviors. It’s common for many autistic people to be unable to grasp certain social norms. This can be prominently seen in social situations where autistic people struggle with things like knowing appropriate topics of conversation, communicating with eye contact, facial expressions, and body language, or following any variety of social rules. Autistic people also usually partake in repetitive behaviors. I chose to take a more connotative approach in representing this scenario of normative and repetitive behaviors. Again, I used “A” to represent a character with autism. “A” stands in line with their peers in a single file. All the characters are instructed to complete a particular behavior. At first “A” can follow along, but then they get stuck doing this one action and repeat it over and over, even though their peers have moved on to other instructions. This represents not fitting in and not following society’s social norms. I also made a point for “A” to repeat the action of rocking because rocking is a common way for autistic people to stim. Stimming is the performance of an action to bring sensory pleasure, which is repeated solely for the purpose of feeling that pleasure/calmness.
3. Spinning objects. Many autistic children are fascinated with staring at spinning objects. Autistic people tend to use these spinning objects as a way to stim. Someone may stare at a ceiling fan, a toy car’s wheels, or a spinning top for as long as they possibly can because it brings pleasure to their senses. I wanted to create my own spinning, hypnotic animation that could be used as a form of stimming. I created a spiral that would spell out the word autism from its center. I want this to be put on a loop so the person watching can become entranced.
I ultimately decided to animate the spinning objects concept.
Below is my finished animation: