I could hardly contain my excitement when it was announced that BBC 1 would be featuring a six-part drama on a family coming to terms with their son’s autism.
And I was hardly alone as many parents on special needs social media platforms confirmed they would be watching too. So what did we think? I have to say I did like it, I think the actors echoed very well the array of emotions parents and families go through when seeking and getting a diagnosis. Obviously some of it was simplified for TV, the promptness of the diagnosis was a bit questionable, the granddad’s gormless remarks got a bit tiring after a while and I’m still wondering why sex took such a prevalence, but all in all it was a great way to shed a light on the condition.
Our protagonist Joe offered, in my view, a realistic portrayal of a young lad with high-functionning autism down to the lack of reciprocal language and love of routines. His lack of social life and the absence of invitations to his peers’ birthday party pulled on heart strings but also showed what ASD means for sufferers and their families on day to day basis. More importantly it spreads the word on the fact that autism is a spectrum and that it can come under various guises. Until recently austitic people were mostly portrayed in two ways in media, on the one hand we were shown severally autistic people with very serious needs and on the other hand we were shown geniuses – I suspect that this was widely due to the fact that both camps makes ”good TV”.
So it was refreshing to see a boy with a standard intellect yet with so many differences being on TV. Autism can have so many faces and it’s time that us neuro-typicals know about it.
The A-Word is on BBC1 on Tuesdays at 9.00pm. You can view the first episode on BBC iPlayer.