Getty Images and dating app Hiki recently collaborated on the #AutisticOutLoud campaign to boost representation of people with autism.
The #AutisticOutLoud effort consists of images and photos, created by autistic artists, that feature an authentic portrayal of people with autism. The campaign’s central goal is to “shift the narrative of what it means to be autistic.”
Introducing #AutisticOutLoud, a joint initiative with @hikiapp, @mindshare and Getty Images to increase authentic representation of autistic people through the lens of the community. Through a curated gallery of images and videos, #AutisticOutLoud brings in content creators and… pic.twitter.com/gIX3J9jx89— Getty Images (@GettyImages) June 20, 2023
The images — some involving self-portraits, portraits with pets, or pictures with loved ones — are housed in Getty Images’ Disability Collection as well as Unsplash.
“The autistic community is not a monolith,” Jamil Karriem, founder and CEO of Hiki, said in a statement. “Yet in media and entertainment, they’re often infantilized or stereotyped as savants with a voice that typically centers the experience of white males.”
Hiki is a dating and friendship app designed specifically for people with autism. Karriem noted that the goal of #AutisticOutLoud is for the autistic community to be “seen for all of their tremendous differences and nuances as unique individuals.”
While about one in 36 children are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an even greater fraction of the general population is considered neurodivergent. Still, there is a lack of media that authentically reaches and represents people who are neurodivergent.
“Working in media and as someone who is autistic, I was tired of seeing the regressive, disempowering images of autistic folks in mass media that are at odds with the community I know — one that is highly expansive and creative,” Rachel Lowenstein, an #AutisticOutLoud content creator, said in a statement.
She added that she’s proud of the project as an opportunity for the industry to “reshape media” and be more representative of a community that has “long been spoken over.”
Just this year, there have been a few campaigns rolled out that have similar goals to #AutisticOutLoud.
In April, Samsung launched an app that reduces noise as a form of “sound airbag,” designed for people with autism.
Also this spring, the Autism Transit Project expanded to four additional cities after originating in New York City. The Autism Transit Project has children with autism record public service announcements that are heard on trains and platforms.
Lauren Melissa Elizey, another content creator with #AutisticOutLoud, noted that “autistic folks are diverse in every way” and said she feels joy by participating in the collaborative effort to diversify autistic representation.