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The A Word – my review of episode 1

I’ve just watched the screening of episode 1 of BBC1’s new TV drama ‘The A word’. The Radio Times describes it as a ‘beautifully crafted drama’ (about a young boy with ASD). I’d have to disagree with that description in many respects.  OK it was beautiful scenery and a beautiful looking child (Joe). But, if the other Joe – Joe Public that is- believes Peter Bowker’s screenwriting, they will be assuming that a diagnosis of Autism is available instantaneously on the NHS.  WRONG ! This was just so misleading.  Here’s the real truth behind the daily struggles which parents face trying to get any recognition of the difficulties their (possibly) autistic  child has….

Today I received my copy of the Spring Newsletter from the British Academy of Childhood Disability. From page 8 I quote:

‘Public Health England has confirmed the huge disparity in waiting times for an ASD diagnosis. Their report showed that in the South West there were waiting times as long as 95 weeks between a referral to an autism specialist and a diagnosis. The wait was as long as 90 weeks in the South East, and 84 weeks in Yorkshire and Humber.’  So not the apparently instantaneous diagnosis we saw portrayed on ‘The A Word’.

NICE Guidelines also say the wait between a referral and diagnosis should not exceed three months, and that the diagnosis involves many different professionals and agencies’. Hmm I’m beginning to think I might prefer reality tv over this ‘beautifully crafted’ but totally misleading drama.

On a positive note, at least some of Joe’s behaviours WERE typical and characteristic of a youngster with a profile of ASD. Nonetheless I could still hear many many parents chuckling ‘if only…’ in relation to the brevity of the outbursts, repetitious behaviour, and meltdowns which were portrayed.

More from me after next week’s episode.


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