Annoying voice at the self-service checkout? Not enough time to focus on your favourite part of that YouTube video?
Try our simple life hacks and see how easy it is to get rid of excess information in your daily life.
For autistic people, small changes like this can hugely help to lessen the overload that can make the world a frightening place.
Read our ‘Top tips’ to understand more about autism, the person, and the change you can make.
Silence the self-service checkout
Most major supermarkets now have self-service checkouts. You know, the ones with the irritating loud voice and beeping? Do you ever wish you could just shut them up? Well, you can!
Simply look for the ‘volume’ button at the bottom of the screen and tap it – the sounds will be muted and you can continue your shopping experience in peace.
For autistic people, small adjustments like this can make the world of difference in a situation when there is already so much information to take in at once.
Which notifications will cut through the noise?
Our phones can do so much for us that sometimes the amount of display notifications, sound alerts and various app prompts can actually get overwhelming.
But you can easily be in control of who, or what, gets through to you - and who doesn’t.
On an iPhone, simply go to ‘Settings’ then ‘Do not disturb’ and turn the ‘Manual’ option on to green. This will stop notifications, alerts and calls from making any noise, vibrations or light – the only thing that will get through is alarms if you set them.
In this same menu, you can choose ‘Allow calls from’ to decide which of your contacts can still get through to you.
On an Android phone,* you can go into ‘Settings’ and find ‘Sound’ then ‘Do not disturb’ and then ‘Priority allows.’ Here you can choose which calls, messages, reminders and events get through to you.
You can also go to ‘Settings’, then ‘Notifications’ and under the apps you don’t want to get notifications from you can select ‘Block all.’
For autistic people, being able to select which information they receive could be a huge help. It can give them the space to process the information they need to without getting overloaded.
*if you have version 6.0 or above
Music too loud, movie too quiet
Have you ever watched a film where you could hardly hear the dialogue over the loud soundtrack or action scenes?
Cue a scene with hushed voices, maybe some tumbleweed. Naturally, you turn up the volume.
VOOM! All of a sudden it switches to a deafening action scene.
If you are watching a video on YouTube, or most built-in media players on a Windows PC, there is a simple way around this.
Enable the ‘Loudness equaliser’ by right clicking the speaker item on the right of your taskbar.
Click ‘Playback devices’ and select the device you’re using for listening to your film (for example, ‘speakers’), and select ‘Properties’.
Click the ‘Enhancement’ tab, tick ‘Loudness equalisation’ and select ‘OK.’
You may need to restart your media player or web page for the effect to work.
Unexpected loud noises can create a lot of anxiety for some autistic people. Loud noises in general can also be difficult for people on the autism spectrum who are sensitive to sound.
Watch videos at your own speed
Do you ever want to slow down an incredible sports moment you’re watching on YouTube, or make sure you’ve really understood that Spanish for beginners grammar tutorial you’re working through? Or perhaps speed the videos up when you’re searching for a particular part?
YouTube has a small button – accessible from any modern web browser - that allows you to adjust the playback speed of YouTube videos. The key is that it adjusts the voice pitch as you change the speed, so you don’t get hugely distracting pitch distortion.
On the video you want to slow down (or speed up), click the ‘settings’ icon, which looks like a cog, on the right hand side of the control bar. Choose the speed you want to watch your video at and enjoy!
Sometimes autistic people feel like they're getting 'too much information' and need a few moments to filter through it all. Being able to control the speed at which this information comes through can be very useful.