"World Shut Your Mouth, shut your mouth,It's one of little Joe's favourite songs in the drama The A Word, which I've been rambling on about a lot lately. Particularly as it's Autism Awareness April.
Put your head back in the clouds and shut your mouth" Julian Cope
I was pretty disappointed in the last episode. Of course, I've always taken the stance that it is actually a drama and not a real depiction of life with autism, well not for everybody anyway.
I guess I can almost accept the completely unprofessional approach of the Speech and Language Therapist, or Maggie as she prefers to be called. She obviously held a very big grudge against the mum, Alison, as she was bullied by her at school. It makes for good drama, but I am sure no professional would act like that, it's hard enough for a parent to get the help they need for a child without having to deal with people who are out to make a score against them.
The drama did paint the mother in a bad light, not only was she going against her family in trying to get help for her son, she was neglecting her other child. It can be tough on siblings of autistic children and yes, they are having to adapt to life with autism just like the rest of the family. It's not fair to suggest that they get pushed aside and neglected because of their autistic sibling though. I've never pushed any of my 'neuro-typical' children to the side in favour of their sibling as I'm sure many other parents haven't either, it's not fair to make this a 'thing.'
Or maybe, the drama wanted to put some blame on the mother? I thought that was an old way of thinking. I remember, many years ago, when I first went to get help for my child. At the first attempt I was told that I was depressed and sent away with a bottle of pills. The second attempt I was told that I needed help with my parenting skills and given a number to ring for a workshop! It was quite typical of one time to believe that autism was 'caused' by poor parenting. Which is about as ridiculous as saying it is caused by vaccinations.
I could be analysing too much. Perhaps, rather than the dysfunctional family with all it's problems are not actually being blamed for the child's autism, but the diagnosis has brought out the worst in everyone as they are trying to deal with the 'unknown?'
It's tough when something like this happens, your once happy little bubble can be burst. No-one knows what to expect, what to do, where to get help. Tensions are high and frustrations appear.
I remember reading any book I could find, searching the internet for information, going to help groups, trying to find others in my position. I'd do anything to be able to cope with what had landed on my doorstep in the guise of a diagnosis. A lot of the stuff I learnt was relevant, a lot of it wasn't. I was confused, lost and constantly fighting for the help I needed for my child. Parents are like that you see, we get taken over by the need to get things sorted.
I probably came across pushy at some point, wanting answers, needing help. Spending a majority of my time trying to work out what was best for us all. I still had time for both of my children. I did not neglect either of them. There have been times when the autistic child's behaviour has determined the day. When plans have been abolished, or outings abandoned because one child is simply not in a fit state to cope with it. I've always made up for it in another way. Yes, life changes but it doesn't have to be all bad.
Since the drama started there have been many complaints about the inaccuracies portrayed about autism. It would be near impossible to represent all types of autism in one drama, so there is always going to be someone disagreeing. I'm thinking it's probably the same for the parents and families involved when a child is autistic. Just as every autistic child is different, every family deals with it differently, every family is different. I have to remember that this is just a drama, one story. Not my story or your story, just a story.
We parents have a lot to deal with on a day to day basis when we have an autistic child, those who do not may not have any idea of what it's like for us. That's why awareness is important. As families we need people to understand that we are doing the best we can, especially when times are difficult. Autistic people need to be understood so that they will be more readily accepted into society.
I believed it was a good idea to have a tv drama portray a little of what it's like to have autism in the family. I'm just not happy that it appears to making the premise that an autistic child equals a dysfunctional family. That is not always the case.
What do you think? Has the program enlightened you in any way?
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