Some thoughts on ‘The A Word’

I wasn’t sure whether I was going to watch this series or not. I wondered if it would be too difficult, too raw for someone who was still coming to terms with their own diagnosis.
And in some ways it was difficult to watch. But not for the reasons I expected.

There were some things that I saw in Joe (the autistic child) that I recognised in myself. The constant wearing of headphones. Using music to shut out the world around him when everything became too hard. The almost encyclopaedic knowledge of song lyrics.

But the hardest thing was that the programme didn’t really seem to be about Joe at all. Joe, and Joe’s autism, almost seemed like a MacGuffin.

It was all about the people surrounding Joe. The impact of his diagnosis on them. Their own difficulties and failings – most of which had nothing to do with ‘the A word’ at all. (Although I did at one point wonder whether there was going to be a twist at the end revealing that all the characters were autistic!)

Joe and his views, his needs, almost seemed to be forgotten.

And that was a bit too realistic for my liking. I’m not sure that message was intentional…

I don’t think I’d watch a second series, if there is one. At least not with the same characters. I might be more interested if there was one about diagnosis as an adult – and that actually showed things from the viewpoint of the autistic character. However, I appreciate that’s possibly too much of a niche interest!


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