‘The A Word’ – the review As BBC One’s warm-hearted drama drew to a close last night ‘The A Word’ has given us an insight in to dysfunctional family behaviour, teenage angst and a little autism. Here’s what our Family Fund Bloggers thought of the series: Mombie UK’s review of the first episode Laura’s point of view as a parent of a child with an undiagnosed condition My son Brody is undiagnosed and it is more than likely he'll never be diagnosed with a syndrome to explain all of his disabilities (unless the DDD study pulls something out of the hat!). However, he may - after no doubt a long and arduous wait - get diagnosed with Autism. Like lots of other parents in my shoes, as a result of our life, I was interested in watching The A Word. I've seen mixed reviews on social media about it, but on the whole, well - I enjoyed it. Although, I'm sure we’d all like to meet the Doctor who can diagnose that quickly! Never did I think I’d write the word ‘guffawed’, but that literally was me watching Joe get diagnosed. Ha! If only diagnosing was that straight forward! We have to wait until our Paediatrician rules out that other factors aren't contributing to Brody's GDD and traits, and of course, it's not just his opinion that results in the diagnosis either. Anyway, I suppose they’d need a lot more than six episodes to include a lengthy diagnosis process in the mix. So moving on… Let’s face it, The A Word was always likely to get mixed reviews because Autism is such an emotive subject and the spectrum is so huge. Children with Autism differ greatly from one another, which is obvious to many of us, but frustratingly not everybody knows this. I remember the first time I mentioned the likelihood that Brody is on the spectrum to someone I know. Their response was something along the lines of "my friend’s son with Autism does XYZ though and Brody doesn't". Head. Wall. Bang. This is the case with lots of disabilities of course. A diagnostic label doesn't mean that everyone with that diagnosis is the same. There’s a quote (I do like a quote) by Stephen M. Shore “if you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism”. Regardless, one television show can’t possibly reflect everyone’s experiences and that’s ok. How many TV shows do we see where characters are Autistic? Not many - although thankfully there does seem to be an increase. Surely it's never a bad thing to raise awareness? I do wish that they would cover both ends of the spectrum a bit more evenly though. I’m not a fan of the terminology high and low functioning at all, but hopefully you’ll know what I’m saying here. My son doesn’t talk at all and I’ve yet to see a non-verbal child in anything who likes to make noises and can’t memorise things like Rain-Man can. No doubt many of us have experienced lots of the emotions that the show demonstrated - denial, frustration, anger, sadness, grief, exclusion, the lack of understanding from others and the pressure that a child with disabilities can put on relationships at times. Let’s not forget acceptance and unconditional love. I got through the first episode without tears - even the party exclusion bit - until Joe smacked his Dad’s face. Ouch. That really hit a nerve. However, we all know that the good times far outweigh the bad, no matter how difficult life can be at times. I recently read that “grieving the losses is not compatible with celebrating the triumphs”. How true (I told you I liked a quote!). Personally, I'd like to see more TV shows with children who have disabilities. It's our normal and no doubt if you're reading this, it's your normal too. We live in a society where almost 1 in 5 of the population is disabled (SCOPE). Not only does disability on the television raise awareness and – hopefully - lessen prejudice, it is something so many of us can relate to. It can be hard watching if you’re in our boat, but it can also be kind of therapeutic. Well, at least I find it to be. Sometimes I need a good old cry and to watch someone else going through the highs and lows of it all. If you do too, I highly recommend DIY SOS (with a packet of tissues at the ready!). And Scarlett’s look at the series as a whole as the parent of Lyla who has autism and Talia, her little sister who is an extraordinary support I can relate to many parts of the plot on BBC’s new drama The 'A' Word. Whilst I have some strong opinions, for example how they got a diagnosis so quickly and easily, I do appreciate they can't really show a complete true prospective of the struggles we as parents face. At the same time they showed how Joe is struggling and all in just six episodes, I applaud the BBC for approaching the fact that we do need to raise autism awareness. Highlighting Joe’s specific interests for example music and singing along to songs and his rituals like having to close an open door before opening it again I hope have displayed how sometimes autistic traits can Blend into the normality of everyday life and do not always stand out, however it is a little unbelievable that they would let a 5 year-old boy walk down the street, no matter how near to the home, all by himself. The pressure on them as a family after Joe is diagnosed brought me back to four years ago when I had the diagnosis for Lyla and although it seemed Alison went through the emotional stages one after the other quite rapidly it did show a true representation of the lack of support and understanding, being in-denial and hoping the professionals had got it wrong , trying to hide the fact your child is different and desperately trying to help them fit in and then lastly mourning for the child you thought you would have and desperately searching for any way to help "cure" them . I wanted to reach out to Alison and say you are not alone. What really hit home to me about the drama is whilst Alison and Paul, his granddad Maurice and the rest of his family were more concerned about changing Joe and trying to stop/mask his autistic behaviours his Sister Rebecca saw past the diagnosis, past the Autism and just saw Joe, her little brother. Being a teenager and facing her own issues came alongside the fact that she has this amazing bond with Joe, she naturally pushes him on a swing as she knows it calms him, she will sing his favourite songs with him and get his headphones when she knows he will need them. An unconditional sibling love. The distress of Joe going missing in the last episode highlighted how his emotional reaction may not be the same as a typical child and was the realisation Alison and Paul needed to accept that Joe did see the world differently. In conclusion I feel that some of the sub-plots were unnecessary delving in and out of people's marital affairs, relationships and immigration?? But as a whole any awareness is a positive thing and I personally feel that The 'A' Word would have been more beneficial to those with no or little experience of Autism rather than those like myself who live and breathe it every day. Overall ‘The A Word’ has exposed prime time viewers to different attitudes surrounding disability. It’s been painful, poignant and while the diagnosis process wasn’t exactly realistic, it has definitely got people talking about Autism and it’s representation in the media. So what did you think? Join our conversation on Facebook.