A Final Word on the A Word – Missing

I didn’t write about the A word last week, it’s not that I didn’t have anything to say, it’s just that I didn’t really know what to say. Unlike many others I was still seeing a desperate mum in Alison, while many others were still disliking her.

This week, the last episode, we saw something else in Alison. A situation she couldn’t control, she couldn’t bully her way into getting a result, although she may have tried at one point.

Joe, the five year old newly diagnosed autistic boy went missing.

The whole village were enrolled to look for him.

Alison had to admit to everyone that Joe had autism.

Alison declared that she wouldn’t try and change him and that she accepted him for who he was.
At last!

As the hours went by and the search was fruitless, emotions were high, both on the screen and in my living room.

My boy went missing, it was awful. He was gone for hours, we all scoured the streets, we called the police, we answered questions, we looked some more. Then he came back. He hadn’t run away, he was just out walking. Tension within the house had become too high and he felt the need to go for a walk.

Over the years he did this several times, before and after his diagnosis. In fact, he still does it now, he will just leave the house and walk and walk. You may think that is not unusual in a grown man, but normally he does not leave the house alone. When we first moved here three years ago he got lost on his first ‘walk’ because it was an unfamiliar area and this was very distressing. Thankfully, we found him. It never stopped him.

The A Word portrayed the despair that families feel while looking for a lost child. You will do anything to find them, the desperation grows by the minute while they are gone. The panic, the fear, the pounding in your chest that doesn’t settle. It’s so difficult, so painful, so worrying. I cannot imagine what it must feel like for those parents who have children that have not returned.

In our house the first few times the return was also stressful. He would not understand why we were panicked, he had no idea of the fuss he’d caused. On a couple of occasions a police officer came out to see him the next day to tell him how dangerous it was for him to go off on his own and told him not to do it again. He took no notice. My first reaction to him coming home would be to hug him and just be thankful that he was back. He didn’t understand why I was behaving like this and mostly just wanted to go to his room and lie down because he was tired and worn out. We learnt to adapt, you don’t get used to it, but you do adapt. Now he’s grown up I still worry, my biggest fear being that he doesn’t come back, or he gets attacked in the street. The fact that he is over six feet tall and pretty big doesn’t stop me worrying.

I know that not all autistic children do this, my daughter doesn’t. It’s a really difficult thing for families to deal with, but to the autistic child, it’s a release, it’s a way of coping.

Back to the drama, many people have been annoyed at the parents for allowing to let Joe go out wandering each morning. Maybe they could see it was his way of coping, they were sure he’d be picked up each morning and brought home, as indeed he was. Maybe they had become a little complacent though. This routine did not bother them, but when Joe decided to wander at an different time then the panic was released. To Joe, it was just another way of coping, it was his release.

The conclusion of the drama was good for the family as a new phase of acceptance was clear. We all know that the journey from there on is not going to be easy for them, but with acceptance they can begin to work together as a family and deal with all that Joe’s autism throws at them…hopefully!

I do have one question though…are there EVER any buses in that village?

The A Word – BBC tv


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  1. April 27, 2016 / 9:53 am

    I haven't seen the final episode yet, and am still finding the Mum to be selfish and annoying. I understand how desperate she must be feeling but her behaviour seems to be her default one, expecting people to bend to her way of thinking, but when you look at her Dad and the rest of the family you can perhaps understand why.
    I have enjoyed the show though, and it's great to see autism in the spotlight.

  2. April 27, 2016 / 1:27 pm

    Haha love the point about the buses 🙂 I loved this series, can't wait for the next one!

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