Having been a writer, I can tell why people would want another book or series. If the first was a complete success. For example, when I heard the news the BBC’s drama series ‘the A word’ was going to be making a comeback for a second series. I was keen to finish my days’ work to get home and watch it. Having seen the first series, and how well explained the condition of Autism was. I was rather looking forward to seeing the next one. Set two years after the first series. Life for Joe, the young lad in the drama who has Autism, and his family. Life has adjusted slowly; but as with all forms of Autistic life, trouble is never usually far away. In the first episode of series two of ‘the A word’, Joe has managed to find his way onto the school roof. Of course, all the teachers are in panic mode, in case he falls off, and the kids in the playground are at a loss of what to think of it all.
As a young child myself living with ASD, I certainly never climbed onto any roofs to get away from anything. But I can see the reasoning behind what Joe was thinking, when he climbed up there. A playground can be a very stressful environment, even for someone who isn’t Autistic. For someone who is, the first thing you’re going to thinking about is how to get out of the dangerous waters of social interaction, as quickly as possible. Joe would have seen the ladder, seen that no-one else would be up there, and thought; ‘that’s a place I need to be, it’s safe from the dangers of the social environment’. Now to everyone else, the school roof wouldn’t be the best place to be. But to him, its heaven. He’s sitting up there, looking out at the view around him; listening to his music.
The series is set in the Lake District by the way, in case you were all wondering; hence why the view would be spectacular. He hasn’t got a concept of danger, or injury to himself or others. But it isn’t his fault; he’s just Joe. The slightly unusual, friendly child that people love and cherish. Another fascinating side to the drama that I found whilst watching it, was the attitude and reactions of the Grandad character ‘Maurice’ played by Christopher Eccleston. This has always been a topic that I have related to within my own family, because I have found that attitudes towards Autism spectrum disorders differ from generation to generation. Like for example, my parents were quite reluctant to accept my Autism when they were first told about it. After all, they were born in the 1960s, when Autism was starting to be recognised as a medical condition.
But the reaction of my grandparents was quite different. They seemed not necessarily to deny its existence, but instead show a lack of understanding and just thought I was a little odd. After all, Autistic people are a little odd to the world, because they don’t seem to fit in the category of normal. Back on ‘the A word’ topic; I was interested to see Joe’s parents attitude has changed from what it was last series. Before it was the worry that he wouldn’t fit in and trying to make Joe more like the other kids in the school. But now, his difference seems to be being recognised and understood by more and more people in his life. Another top tip I totally agree with, was the role play exercise done by the parents to explain to Joe what Autism was and what it meant to him and everyone else.
If you are a parent with an Autistic child, I do highly recommend this. It is a very good thing to trial on each other before approaching your child on it. Another top tip would be, try to talk to them about it using their special subject. For example, if there into wildlife, then compare them to Chris Packham, the autistic wildlife presenter on BBC’s Springwatch programme. It may not get through straight away, but at least you can guarantee some form of concentration from the child, if their subject is mentioned. I certainly benefited from this with my parents, as they knew I was into cars. So, brought up an Aston Martin in the conversation when telling me about my Autism. It certainly helped anyway, as I do like Aston Martin supercars. Finally I wanted to finish by saying this.
What ‘the A word’ series demonstrates is the ability to be able to watch a drama which isn’t just about a modern incredible condition, but also a series which is full of humour as well. The series writer ‘Mr Peter Bowker’ in my opinion, is a very talented teacher and writer; who is clearly skilled and experienced in Autism and learning difficulties. I’m looking forward to next week’s episode, where Joe is having to take in moving schools to a mainstream school with an Autism specialist unit. But as everyone with Autism will know, dealing with change, is not our most outstanding achievement.