The A Word
Despite the fact that Autism Awareness Week has been and gone (the blog wasn’t quite ready in time, not through my laziness!), it is a topic I was very keen to cover when we were setting up this blog. Along with children’s mental health, autism is one of our main current focuses when making positive changes in the lives of the young people of the north-east.
Autism has received huge amounts of media coverage in 2016, particularly on prime time television, in an effort to raise awareness and understanding. The National Autistic Society recently launched a campaign, named Too Much Information (TMI), and launched an advert in the lead up to this campaign. The advert is fascinating and hard hitting, as we see through the eyes of an autistic child, and begin to understand the difficulties autism can bring in everyday life. This can be seen below:
Autism has been central to two prime time shows this year, one fictional and the other non-fictional: The A Word and Employable Me. I was a huge fan of both shows, as I have to admit, I wasn’t too sure myself the facts about Autism. A YouGov poll suggests that nearly everyone has heard the term autism, but a far smaller number could define it. Over a quarter of Autistic people had been asked to leave a public space, and nearly 4/5 also felt socially isolated. These figures suggest that campaigns such as TMI are a vital necessity in order to change these figures and perception of Autism.
Employable Me followed the story of Brett, who had been looking for work for eight years, struggling to find one due to autism. He possessed qualities in problem solving and strategy, despite no one willing to take a chance on him. During the programme he was assigned work as a taxi driver (surely for the purposes of making a TV programme, he wasn’t suited to it!) until he finally found work in a research lab. It was an uplifting story, which showed how misplaced judgement and stigmatisation are in society.
The A Word was a little different. It centred on Joe, a 5 year old boy who had recently been diagnosed with Autism. The focus was as much on his family, and their journey to finding more understanding and learning the best ways to cope. His mother (sensitively portrayed by Morven Christie) particularly struggles with the diagnosis, and seems ashamed to admit it to friends and neighbours. The fact that Joe is autistic is only revealed when he goes missing, and when they realise that no-one is judging or stigmatising Joe, they begin to come to terms and move on as a family. I feel I have learnt a great deal about Autism due to this media coverage, which could, and should, increase over the next few years, in a similar way to mental health.
Here at The Children’s Foundation, as we face the previously mentioned challenges presented to us, one way you can help is through our new Payroll Giving scheme. A scheme that enables you to make regular donations if you wish, the money would come straight from your salary, no matter how small, it is always greatly appreciated. By donating you can support projects like Daslne.
You can find out more at:
Thank you for reading.
The Children’s Foundation Volunteer