New BBC drama with autism at its heart

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Filming has started on a new six-part BBC drama featuring a family whose youngest son is diagnosed with autism

The A Word, which focuses on the efforts of Scott family to adjust to the diagnosis, is described as ‘a funny and thought-provoking series about parenthood and childhood and what it is like to have a child who fails to fit the mould’.

The UK drama has been adapted by award-winning screenwriter Peter Bowker from an Israeli series made in 2010.

Bowker said:

‘I loved the original series and wanted to honour its spirit while writing something new. We have the opportunity here to make something funny, tough, realistic and inventive about contemporary family life and autism. In a society where imperfection increasingly comes with blame attached it seems timely to look at how autism is regarded both within a family and the wider community – and to give some insight into how that experience might be for the child on the autistic spectrum. It’s a drama full of ideas – about parenthood, about disability, about communication, about community – and will emphatically engage an audience whatever their experience of the subject’.

The cast includes Christopher Eccleston, Lee Ingleby, Morven Christie, Greg McHugh, Vinette Robinson and has newcomer Max Vento playing the part of the autistic son.

Eccleston said:

‘I’m very proud to be reunited with writer Peter Bowker on The A Word. This is a special job for us all. We hope the audience take us to their hearts’.

The series is expected to start screening on BBC1 in late spring 2016.

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Special World, from Inclusive Technology, is a free website linking 125,000 special education teachers, speech therapists and occupational therapists in 150 countries. Special World readers and contributors work with children who have additional needs or special educational needs including those with severe, profound and multiple learning difficulties and disabilities.

9 Comments

  1. I think this is great but people should be made aware that Autism can have an ugly and violent side too. These kids will hit their caregiver in frustration , pull out their caregivers hair, and are often self abusive either biting themselves or banging their head. Of course if the whole program was like it really is nobody would want to watch it but I feel the public needs to see a little of the dark side and what these care givers go through on a daily basis!

    • Hold on there Debbie and Brandy not all people with autism have a violent side. There are many levels of the spectrum. I think it is great that the BBC is doing a show that involves a family dealing with autism but it will be difficult for a six part series to show the many sides and levels of the spectrum of autism. People will see this very short series and believe they a lot about autism. I hope it is shown in Canada soon.

    • I detest your use of word-the dark side. Have you ever ask yourself why they behave as such? Do you fully understand their extreme frustration and how and what they have to go through, day in and day out, living in a so called “normal”/”non autistic environment/society”?
      These behaviour, you so called the dark side”, are not different from any “non autistics” persons’ behaviour when they are being going through extreme frustration each and every day!!!

  2. I agree with Debbie. My son has broken my nose twice from head butting me. The second time he hit me hard enough I saw stars. We first realised something was wrong when he quit talking at month 21. When he did that we wrote down all the words we had heard him ever say. We realised then he would learn a few words then forget old words. My son is on the higher end of the spectrum bcuz we caught it so early and we don’t treat him as if he’s autistic. Good luck and I hope to see this in America soon. :)

  3. I have 2 boys aged 11 and 9 both with a diagnosis of Autism, both have completely different needs and both have complex health needs. It will be very interesting to see how they portray autism and if they show how families have to cope every day with little or no support.
    I knew from my eldest been very young he had autism but he was only diagnosed 2 months ago and without a diagnosis on paper no support is available.
    It is one of the hardest disabilities to deal with.

  4. I wish people would understand that the child on the Autistic Spectrum will grow to adulthood with perhaps never realising that they have Autism, nor those around them. There are many undiagnosed adults on the Spectrum, with all the problems that can bring. More focus needs to be on Autism in later life. I think most people are now aware of children with Autism but these children grow into old age.

  5. I don’t like assumptions about autism. Just because someone experiences the world in a different and more highly sensitive way does not make them easily pigeonholed, or at least it shouldn’t do…

  6. I have just arrived home from delivering autism awareness training so this is very close to me. I understand Brandy and Debbie’s comments because I also support families with children with autism. However, there is so little knowledge about it in society and I just hope it is a rounded portrayal. Some of the young people I support can be violent with their families and also with the support workers, but it’s important to understand about triggers and sensory perception, communication difficulties etc. to put this into context. They can also be very loving and fun individuals to be around. I worry too much emphasis on aggression and violence might give the impression that this is the case for all people with autism.

  7. Don R. Holloway on

    Will people in America be able to see this show or maybe buy it on DVD later? I really want to see it as I am an adult with autism and have friends whose children are autistic. I hope you will respond to my question. Thank you very much.

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