A Virtual Spectrum

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A Virtual Spectrum

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Autism Spectrum Disorder, or Autism, is classified as a developmental disability that is characterized by several differences in how an autistic person’s brain functions compared to a neurotypical, or “normal,” person. Common traits in autistic people include troubles with socialization, hand flapping, or other repetitive movements known as stimming, and sensory issues. Kettle Moraine School for Arts and Performance (KM Perform) senior Elizabeth “Liz” Meade is creating a portfolio to teach people about the sensory experiences of autistic people through a virtual reality simulation of a school day for an autistic person.

Along with the virtual reality project itself, Meade will be leading a seminar in which students can help with the filming process and learn more about Autism. “We will start by reading several articles about Autism in order to understand some basic commonalities,” said  Meade. After learning more about Autism, they will read and discuss a mystery novel with an autistic main character, titled The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. “Finally, we will film my simulation! Students will have the choice to be a background character or more in the forefront.”

Meade first began to take interest in virtual reality after being introduced to it in a computer science class about two years ago; “I thought about a lot of different topics for my simulation, but was ultimately inspired by [my] siblings.” Both Meade’s brother and sister are Autistic, and experience challenges from living in a largely neurotypical society. “My simulation draws specifically on my brother Max’s experience . . . I decided to use virtual reality to bring his world to life as much as possible,” said Meade. She hopes her project can help others understand Autistic people better.  

“When people meet my brother, it is not evident to them that he has Autism. Instead, they just assume that he is anti-social or rude,” said Meade. There are many stereotypes and misconceptions that are harmful to the Autistic community. “I am really hoping this project opens the eyes of some of the people in our community.”

Meade’s portfolio is currently in progress, so stay on the lookout for her seminar registration in the upcoming months!