This week the BBC aired the first episode of The A Word. A 6 part family drama about a young boy who is diagnosed with Autism, and his family. In the first episode we see him being diagnosed (rather quickly, but I guess they need to make some adjustments for TV), and the initial reactions of his parents and their immediate family.
For the past few days I have been trying to work out how I felt about the programme - reflecting on our own experiences which were (are) very different to what happened in the show, and trying to think about what people who don't have personal experience of autism will take away from the show.
Some scenes were almost too much too bear, as they brought up many difficult memories. In particular the scene where the little boy refused to participate in his birthday party reminded me of our last party where my son sat under a table refusing to join in with his friends, while the Dad's attempts to get his son to co-operate in the activities which were part of the assessment session reminded me of the many sessions with various professionals where I would try to coax my Son to take part (he needs to get used to them before he will do anything) so that they could carry out the assessment.
I have realised that I will always be torn when watching it as it is hard to watch without comparing it to our own experience, and recalling our memories with all the emotions that are attached to those memories. It will always be tough for me to watch, but I will be recording each episode to make sure I don't miss it.
The greatest part of the show is how many other families are getting to share their stories in the media, and this can only help to raise awareness of the many different experiences that different families face.
How lovely it would be to see this turned into a series, with each series focusing on a different child and their family. That way people will be able to learn about wide range of needs for people on the spectrum, and the battles that their family faces in these different scenarios.