Anne Hegerty 

Every night, millions of us watch ‘I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here’ and think ‘There’s no way I could do that’.

While the celebrities in camp struggle with creepy-crawlies and basic rations, Anne Hegerty, who is autistic, has a few added challenges. For autistic people, the jungle can be an overwhelming and distressing place and here are a few reasons why:

1. Bushtucker Trials

Anne doing a challenge

Bushtucker trials are stressful for any celebrity, but they can be much worse for autistic people. The threat of unexpected change during the trial, as jungle critters are thrown in at random points, can be very overwhelming. 

Additionally, autistic people sometimes need more time to process information, so time pressures can be incredibly stressful (and that’s without insects crawling all over you!). While anyone would find this very difficult, this could cause an autistic person to have a meltdown

2. New people!

I'm a Celebrity challenge 

For autistic people, anxiety can begin before the jungle – Anne has had to get to know 9 other celebrities. While they’ve been amazingly understanding (shout-out to Nick Knowles for giving Anne his luxury pillow!), a recent survey showed only 16% of autistic people think that people understand them. This can cause anxiety as they are unsure how to interact with new people and avoid judgement. 

3. The jungle environment 

I'm a Celebrity around the fire 

Lots of us couldn’t bear the idea of sitting on the dunny, but for autistic people, the environment itself can cause distress. With dirt everywhere, and the constant background rumble of insects around the camp, it can be difficult for autistic people with sensory issues to settle into their new home. 

4. No escaping the cameras

Camp 

One of the great things about I’m a Celebrity is that celebrities can never escape the cameras. It makes great entertainment for the viewers, but can be a nightmare for autistic people. For many, home is a private refuge to de-stress after a day of being overwhelmed and to relieve any anxiety. With everyone’s eyes on you in the jungle, a vital safe space for autistic people is taken away. 

5. The food

Anne at camp 

90% of autistic people experience sensory issues, meaning that certain textures, smells and tastes can be uncomfortable. With emu, kangaroo and crocodile on the menu, eating these unknown foods at dinnertime can seem more like a Bushtucker Trial. 

6. Sleeping

Anne at camp 

We’ve seen Anne snoring in Croc Creek, but the thought of sleeping on the floor can be terrible for autistic people who have sensory issues. 

Not only that, but after a stressful day of sensory overwhelm in the jungle, many autistic people would struggle to switch off to get a restful night’s sleep

7. No routine

Anne in the jungle 

Autistic people can become incredibly anxious when faced with unexpected change. In the jungle, there is no fixed routine and your day could be filled with unexpected tasks or even a live Bushtucker Trial. This means that just being in the camp can be stressful, as you can never plan what’s going to happen next. 

Whatever happens in the coming weeks on the show, Anne is doing an amazing job at highlighting some of the issues that affect autistic people and her determination to overcome these challenges is inspiring. We wish her, and the rest of the celebrities, the very best of luck in the jungle! 

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