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An Autistic Boy’s Answer: YouTube Science

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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A young autistic boy has found his outlet in making science videos. Jordan Hilkowitz was diagnosed with autism when he was just 18 months old, he didn’t begin to speak until he was 5. His mother Stacey remembers the heartbreak she experienced as she watched her young son bang his head against the wall out of frustration at not being able to communicate.
It was his babysitter’s idea for Jordan to start making science videos. He’d always had an interest in science, and she felt that this could be an outlet for him to communicate to a larger audience. Larger indeed! Jordan’s channel, Doctor Mad Science, has received over 2.4 million views to date – and he’s become a local celebrity for his scientific knowhow.

The videos are excellent. You don’t always need the greatest camera or the most sophisticated setup to communicate your message in an effective way. Jordan always introduces the experiment to be performed in each episode, and he takes the viewer through each of the simple household objects used to do it. The experiments are fun, repeatable, and really spark an interest among viewers both young and old. I cannot wait to try some of these fun activities with my kids.

According to Jordan’s mom and his babysitter Tracy Laparulo, his speech and social skills have blossomed since starting the YouTube channel. Students are interested in learning from him and the love his ability to break an experiment down in an easy-to-understand sort of way. My heart is warmed that Jordan has found his outlet, and perhaps parents and caregivers of other autistic children might be inspired to try some of his experiments, or to start channels of their own.

Carin Bondar About the Author: Carin Bondar is a biologist, writer and film-maker with a PhD in population ecology from the University of British Columbia. Find Dr. Bondar online at, on twitter @drbondar or on her facebook page: Dr. Carin Bondar – Biologist With a Twist. Follow on Twitter @drbondar.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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