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The A word - kind of a review......
I have been watching the A word, which is currently on BBC 1 on a Tuesday evening. For those of you who have not seen it, it is a drama series about a family living in Lancashire. The little boy aged 5 happens to be autistic.
I get when a programme about autism comes on tv, mainly because of my protective nature, seeing the same old stereotypes over and over is incredibly frustrating.
I am 2 episodes in and I am very pleased with what I am seeing. Of course due to the closeness of the subject and the reality of living with autism I have felt emotional watching it. The writer has I think, really gone into the smallest details of family life and how it ripples through to each member. The actors are brilliant, especially the young lad who plays Joe.
There is humour in it, joy and tension. The parents trying to make sense of the diagnosis and to cope with this is the early stages really resonated with me. To put this across on screen as authenticly as they did, I think is brilliant and just.
There is one piece in it so far I found a little unbelievable, Joe likes to walk with his music on his ipod, and he sings. The episode shows Joe walking the road in the hills, alone...then a van picks him up and brings him home to his parents. This happens everyday. I live rurally and get the community spirit and everyone knowing everyone. But a 5 year old walking along a mian road (country style) seemed a little unrealistic. Wandering off yes, this happens all the time, it happened to Jeorge, years back, but he got about 5 metres from the house when I noticed he was gone from the garden. Luckily I did for obvious reasons but the added factor that he was naked! 4 years old and naked walking along the country lane. So I get the sentiment, but expecting neighbours to bring him home each time I felt was a bit too far.
Whilst watching it, I experienced many memories of our first diagnosis along with the 'trying to make it right' and of course failing miserably. There were other poignant moments in it for me, mostly to do with family supprt.
I experienced some pretty full on emotions watching it too. One of which was very new to me. It was one of compassion, yes I feel compassion reguarly, I mean pure compassion for Jeorge. The mother/son love I feel constantly is very different to the compassion I felt surge up inside of me. It was a separate emotion and incredibly powerful. I think I saw the programme as pure compassion too, and this made me feel so happy. This feeling continued to build and build, it was an almost ecstatic feeling, which then went onto myself. I felt self compassion so intensely it was incredible. Needless to say I was a quivering wreck during the whole process of this emotion.
I felt so proud of Jeorge and all others labelled with autism. Living in a world so far removed from theirs and how they see and experience the same world that those unautistics live. The misunderstandings of their behaviours, the asumptions all of us without autism make all the time. Sometimes we are right mostly, we are wrong. I felt so happy that more of humanity is opening up to their hearts to learn about autism, which doesnt just involve trying to fix it. Autism cannot and should not be fixed in my opinion. Autism in itself really is not the problem. our lack of understanding it is a problem, the way we live our lives within the boundaries and rules are a problem for autism. The expectations we have as parents and people on how to develop and be a member of society is a problem for autism. I am not separate from this list, I am aware of my limitations too. I am in the process of allowing myself to be freed of such shackles.
In the programme the sister hears her parents arguing, she says, 'Joe is Joe, he has always been Joe, why would we not want him to be anything but Joe?' I found this very moving. They show her charachter as his older sibling, missing out on parent time, witnessing the squabbling and fear..Yet she still adores her brother Joe and takes him out in the garden to swing and sing. it is another careful little insight to how siblings can often miss out on so much because of the autism takeover!
For me, I feel positive for the future, more programmes like this with heart, ooze knowledge and realism within a family, which can help others understand. Not for pity's sake but purely knowledge and understanding, mostly to banish the stereotypes that have burdened those with autism for many years.
Knowledge is power and this comes in all sorts of wonderful guises..Compassion being one of them. Helping those who struggle, having an open heart, a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen. Acceptance of differences. Instead of constantly stopping a behaviour or eradicating it completely, accept them. Find out why, help and learn, not because we have to or even because we want to but simply beacuse we can. Our hearts are the most powwerful organ in our beautiful bodies and capable of such huge amounts of love, so we may as well use it fully, it can take it with such ease, in fact when it is used and honured it thrives and gives out even more love, so it's a win win for the giver and the receiver.....
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