THE FATHER of an autistic child has produced a play that enables audiences to feel what it is like to suffer from the disorder.

Lee Powell, 36 from Mayfield, wrote Being Hugh to give an insight into how uncomfortable his son Sam, seven, feels on a daily basis.

It is showing as part of the Brighton Fringe next Monday and Tuesday, at 6.30pm and 8pm respectively.

Mr Powell is currently undergoing a degree in theatre arts at Northbrook College and created the play as part of his curriculum.

He said: “For Sam the world is an overpowering, scary place.

“I wanted to create a play that would make audiences feel so uncomfortable they’d want to leave, because that’s how my little boy feels every day. Our world is so terrifying for Sam that he’d rather stay at home where he feels safe and comfortable than leave the house.”

Mr Powell added that the anxiety that results from Sam’s autism can be so bad “it stops him from doing the things he loves”.

“It can even stop him going to school,” he added.

The mature student got the idea at 5am one morning and worked with college classmates to make his dream a reality.

Being Hugh, named after a scene in a Louis Theroux documentary on medicating children, features abrasive sounds and sights in an attempt to recreate the mindset of an autism sufferer.

“I want people to see the world through Sam’s eyes,” said Powell. “When you start to experience this world, you understand his anxiety.”

Mr Powell and his partner Julie initially blamed Sam’s “temper tantrums” on themselves before learning their son had the condition.

He said: “We thought we were bad parents and that’s why he behaved beautifully at school but threw horrendous temper tantrums at home. His diagnosis came as a relief to us.”

Sam was described by his father as a social boy who struggles with the nuances of life and friendship.

He added: “If you saw Sam you’d say he looks like every other child. When you start to experience his world, you begin to understand his anxiety. The whole world is so heightened for him even something as simple as a bad smell is too much for him. Sam struggles with transitioning from one activity to another; bright lights, noise, smells and conversations.

Mr Powell hopes his play will raise awareness of autism and change people’s perceptions.

“Autism is more than the image we’ve been given of it for so many years. Every person with autism is different – no two are the same.”

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