Autism According to YouTube: Discovering, Enjoying and Using Videos Created by People with Autism

There are literally thousands of videos on YouTube made by people with autism. In this blog, I discuss these videos, and explain how to use them in counseling and social skills work with young people on the autism spectrum.

The amazing world of YouTube videos made by people on the autism spectrum

Please watch the video below, made by a boy with Asperger’s next to his bunk bed.  Then come back to this blog, and check out my links to several dozen more terrific videos made by young people on the autism spectrum on topics such as relationships, eye contact, stimming, emotions, and more.

Why you should use YouTube videos made by people with autism for counseling, teaching and your own learning

People with autism are often the best source of information about their own issues and how to deal with them. When looking for authoritative information on what it is like to be autistic, and how to cope, it often makes sense to “ask an Aspie.”

People with autism on YouTube provide good role models for our students and clients. If you are a teacher, speech pathologist, counselor or mental health professional working with young people on the autism spectrum, you are constantly trying to motivate and inspire your students and clients.  Many children and teens with ASD are isolated and demoralized.  The right YouTube video can really help children with high functioning autism to talk about themselves and work on problems.

Showing YouTube videos in your school or office – or at home, if you are a parent using these videos – is easy and foolproof.  In another blog, I provide simple instructions for downloading YouTube videos to your own computer and for making the playback loud enough for a group or a class to hear easily.  To learn about this, FOLLOW THIS LINK HERE.

The organization of the YouTube links below

I have organized my links to YouTube videos into a number of somewhat arbitrary categories.  I will be adding to this list periodically.  If you are aware of particularly useful YouTube videos which I have not listed, or if you have found ways to use YouTube videos which I have not described here, I would be grateful if you could please email me at info [at] AutismTeachingStrategies [dot] com.

Please be aware that YouTube url links can change as the YouTube sites hosting the videos move the videos or take them down altogether.  Kindly email me if you discover that a link no longer works.

Autism Self Description

These videos can be used to help children on the spectrum to learn about their diagnosis and to help them establish a connection with the worldwide community of people with autism.

Alex’s video has gotten 1.4 million views, more than any other autism self-help video I am aware of.  He talks about Asperger’s, his particular interests, auditory sensitivity, feelings of isolation, learning disabilities, and his sense of satisfaction about his conditon.

This very short and very funny animation is the first in a series of animations created by a group of teenagers with Asperger’s in England.

This computer animated feature was created by Bob Greenwade, and adult on the autism spectrum.  It provides some good information about people with Asperger’s and pokes good-natured fun at some of their quirks.

There are two YouTube videos, one with brief interview clips of elementary school children with Asperger’s and another featuring high school students with Asperger’s.  The videos are excerpts from a DVD called Intricate Minds.  I recently spoke to a colleague who owns the DVD’s and uses them all the time for teaching students about their fellow students who have autism.

I really like this young man’s candid and humble description of his childhood experiences with social skills training in public schools and clinical settings.

This young woman provides a positive perspective.  On her YouTube channel, you can also view a video of her interviewing renowned Asperger’s expert Tony Attwood.

Autism and Communication

The creators of these videos make interesting comments about their difficulties with conversation

Jonah has made a number of good videos and I provide links to a couple others below.  He has very clear recollections of when he was in kindergarten and how his obsessions (his own term) with airplanes distracted him in social situations.

This 14-year-old boy describes his growing realization that others are put off by his style of speaking, which seems linked to his intense interests outside the realm of typical youth culture.

This computer animation, just 30 seconds long, captures the feelings of frustration and isolation at trying to make conversation in a crowded room.

In this second video by Aspie Bob Greenwade, he pokes fun at the tendency of individuals on the spectrum to interrupt and gratuitously correct others in conversation.

Autism and Eye Contact

A great many individuals with autism have posted YouTube videos on the topic of eye contact.  Watching them has been a very important learning experience for me.  Here are three of my favorite ones.

Matthew Ryan Morin, whose YouTube videos are included also in the Bullying section below, makes articulate comments about eye contact and how he has worked on it.

Arman Khodaie, who has posted dozens of YouTube self-help videos, provides a fascinating analysis of his eye contact challenges and how he has coped with them.  He describes being punished by his grandmother for deficient eye contact when he was a child.  Mr. Khodaie wears nonprescription glasses because it helps his eyes feel less vulnerable in social situations.

Katie Stanbridge’s video on anxiety is also included in the Anxiety section below.  Turn up the volume on your computer when listening to this one.  Check out the posts on her channel where she shows her art.

Autism and Sensory Sensitivity

If you are a neurotypical person like me, these videos might really increase your appreciation for how autistic people experience extremes of sound, taste and other senses.

This video, hosted on Vimeo, is the only video I have included in this blog post which was not actually created by someone with autism.  I am putting it here because it particularly good and useful.

This short video shows a four-year-old on the autism spectrum reacting to the noise in a gym class.

This very short animation, created by the same teens on the spectrum who created the claymation feature I listed earlier in this blog, really opened my eyes into how light and sound is experienced by individuals with autism.

This is another very short feature by the Biomation teens.  The narrator describes how she can easily become disgusted when foods are served together.  After following this link, you need to forward through a few others in the series to get to this one.

In this video, this young man describes how he needs to wear industrial grade ear protection when he indulges his passion, train watching. In the section below on Fascinations, I provide a link to his YouTube channel where he has posted hundreds of videos of trains.

Autism and Stimming (self-stimulation)

The internet and YouTube provide a forum where autistic people trade information about stimming and offer people without autism a window into their world.

In this video, Matthew provides a demonstration of stimming, which he edited into a montage and set the music of “I like to move it, move it.”

Anabelle has a YouTube channel called “Way to Stim Wednesday.” Each Wednesday, she posts a new video of herself stimming in a different way.  Anabelle’s remarkable website/blog contains archives of her art and photography, as well as short, precious posts full of insight,  beauty and sensitivity:

Arman Khodaie has made several videos about stimming.  In this one, he assimilates feedback he has received from others who have written him comments.  This demonstrates a common practice on YouTube, utilized often by individuals with autism who post videos – dialogue and information exchange, often occurring through “response videos.”

Autism and Anxiety

Many people with autism post videos on this topic.  They describe their experiences and offer and solicit advice.

Here is Adam again, the boy whose video opened this series at the top of the blog. He shows great poise and insight for a person his age.

This is Jonah again, the same teenager who made the video under Communication above, talks about how anxiety affects him.

Jonah continues talking about upsetting emotions in this video.  This is an excellent video to show to young people who are learning about cognitive behavioral therapy.  Jonah has a sound grasp of the link between automatic negative thoughts and anxiety.

Katie, whose video on eye contact was featured above, gives an articulate account of her anxiety.  She has a way with words – listen while she describes her “cascade of emotions.”  Katie says that she finds it very hard to talk face to face with someone more than a couple minutes.  But through the medium of YouTube, she offers a good and useful discourse and reaches quite a lot of people.

Dealing with Bullying

I only have several videos in this series and I am looking for more of them.

Watch this one all the way through.  By all means do not miss the part where he acts out the parts of a bully and a mean girl who taunted him about his tics.

This is another very short animation in the Biomation series I cited above.  Fast forward through several videos to get to this one.

Autism and Dating / Romantic Relationships

People with autism have posted hundreds of videos on these topics

Laura Paxton provides a clear explanation about the pitfalls of being too persistent in a relationship.  In one part of the video, she uses two stuffed animals to demonstrate the risks of being too “clingy.”

This young woman, Victoria, addresses the same overall topic as Laura Paxton.  She comments about how “being obsessive” (her own words) is common with people on the autism spectrum, and explains how this played out in her own life when she developed an infatuation with someone.  Though I don’t agree with some of the advice she offers to people who are the objects of this kind of attention, her account is compelling and the response comments are very interesting to read.

Taylor describes her ambivilance about dating and her awareness of how her social skills deficits would affect such prospects.

Arman Khodaie has posted a number of videos on this topic directed to both males and females on the autism spectrum.

Fast forward a few minutes into this video to the place where he starts giving advice.  A lot of it seems very practical and he delivers it with humor and a positive, hopeful attitude.

Fascinations and Fantasy

The first several videos deal with the general issue of preferred, fixated interests affecting people with autism.  I follow this with a couple videos dealing with fantasy enthrallment, which is a particular interest of mine.

This is one of a large series of videos posted by the mother of this boy.

Anabelle posts a new photo or original work of art on the topic of jellyfish nearly every day on her blog,

This young man on the autism spectrum, whose video about auditory / light sensitivity I featured earlier in this blog, has posted multitudes of train videos on YouTube.

Watch this video through to the part where he gives a tour of his home and shows us the accessories of his various unusual hobbies.

Taylor Morris’ description of her “other world” provides insight into how deeply enthralled autistic people can become with their own thoughts.

This man’s videos receive many views and comments from other people on the autism spectrum.  In this video, he reflects on how fantasy and imagination affected him at an earlier age.

I hope you enjoy and appreciate these people’s YouTube videos.

Reminder:  I have another blog post where I describe clearly how to download videos into your computer and play them back.

Joel Shaul, LCSW

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