Autism Awareness On TV

By A.C.

Have you been aware of more programmes on the BBC about Autism?

The National Autistic Society have been campaigning to make people more aware through the Schools Awareness Week ( 14 -18 March 2016), and World Awareness Week (2 -8 April 2016),  and part of that campaign is to make people aware of the excellent documentaries and dramas on the BBC.

One of the first I saw was the about young autistic teenagers facing the terrible teens. The Autistic Me was first shown in 2009 and was repeated last week in an hour long documentary.  This is no “warm –hearted feel good” documentary and deals sensitively, but openly with autism.

The next programme that I earmarked as part of the season is Employable Me. This is part of a series which has apparently been shown before, but three new episodes have been added.

The first episode of Employable Me shows a man who developed Tourette’s Syndrome as an adult. What became clear was that Tourette’s is not psychiatric, but neurological and therefore a physical disability. His extreme Tourette’s took over his life following a funeral of his best friend.  However, a neurologist identified that he had been suppressing minor tics for years by focusing on his work.  The emotion of grieving released the full –blown Tourette’s. He went to see an occupational psychologist who did some tests and advised him to concentrate on photography, which relaxed and focused him, and he is now selling his photos.  

The other subject in the programme showed an autistic man of 34 who had been unemployed for eight years, and as can be seen in the programme, his communication problems are all too evident.   However, this self–taught piano–playing, computer systems analyst, with exceptional skills in 3D animation and graphics, was found a place a t Peacocks Medical Group by a specialist job advisor and after a successful two week trial, he found permanent employment. What was remarkable in this documentary was when he was tasked with finding a bug in software used in hospitals.  Despite their best efforts, the analysts at the company failed to find the bug, but he found the problem in about four hours.

A new drama on BBC1 has started last week titled “The A Word”. 

This programme is about the extended Hughes family, who all have relationship and business  troubles of their own, and in the midst of this is the enigmatic 5 year old  Joe who is showing signs of being on the autistic spectrum. This tests the over –protective mother played by Morven Christie,  and the pragmatic father (Lee Ingleby)  in their increasingly difficult life as they strive to open a restaurant in the Lakes. This is already shaping up to be an excellent drama which may have some twists in the tail.   We shall have to wait and see how Christopher Ecclestone’s role as Joe’s grandfather develops. His often inappropriate and undiplomatic language, and apparent lack of remorse or understanding of why folk might be offended, may well be because of his plain, bluff, straight–talking ex–businessman manner.  Or is it?   Scots actor and comedy writer, Greg McHugh ( Gary – Tank Commander) also stars as Joe’s uncle, but without the trademark affected Scottish accent, and playing it straight in an Northern English accent.  This programme is shaping up to be a ‘must see’with its excellent story –line and script.

A non–technical  article at the BBC explains the disorder in adults.  

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