What Does A New Series Of ‘The A Word’ Mean To Us?

Will the rather iconic image of a little lad wondering down a lane in the Lake District to the sound of awesome beats be entering our world again tonight? The second series of The A Word starts this evening and I'm eager to see what's changed in the world of autistic Joe and his family. Plenty has changed in our lives in the last 18 months since the first series aired, so I'm guessing it'll be the same for them. As a family with two autistic boys, I can't get enough of autism inspired TV. There's always plenty of opinion about these programmes - it doesn't show enough about autism, it's the nice side of autism or even it's too difficult to watch. As a parent, my heart ached when character Joe couldn't cope with the birthday parties, I relived the nerves I had when our boys first visited the paediatrician as Joe went for his tests, and I put on my armour as Joe's parents talked to the school. It's not that we don't get on with our kids' school, it's the opposite in fact, but it's emotional armour I'm putting on. I know some parents with autistic kids couldn't watch the BBC1 dramatisation. It felt too close to home for them. But surely, I wonder, isn't that a good thing? I spend so much of my life trying to help others accept my children. Most of this is through sharing our experiences, portraying my children as I see them and letting people know my kids aren't to be feared. They aren't trying to be annoying kids. At least in the first series little Joe used headphones - our David has the iPad blasting out tunes at full volume disturbing the entire world. Joe is, like many of the autistic characters on TV, a half way house between our two boys. Our son Anthony has less difficulty with communicating than Joe does, but our pre-verbal son David definitely has more. Anthony will script like Joe, David uses sound to block out the world like Joe, but they are still all different. And they develop differently too. In the last year, we've learned that there are few things as important to David as routine and we've had some worries about Anthony's growing independence. Will these feature in the new series? The week before series one aired we told Anthony, our eldest son, about his autism. Many parents worry about when and how to tell their kids about their diagnoses. I've read that Joe becomes aware of his autism in this series and this will be yet another heart pulling moment for many. We told Anthony because he had noticed, not only that he was different to others, but he hated himself for it. There was not doubt it was time for him to know. And he took that information and owned it - to my sheer delight. How will Joe cope I wonder? The family on The A Word will undoubtedly have similar and different experiences to our own. Joe, their autistic child, may share traits with our boys. We may laugh at some recognisable situations and cry at others. But ultimately, I hope, the show will do what I try and do. It will share what it can be like for a family with autistic kids with a huge audience. An audience that will go through the lives of this family over the next six weeks and hopefully coming out the other side a bit more knowledgeable, a bit more aware and a bit more accepting. To read more about our family and our autistic and neurotypical kids, follow the Rainbows are too beautiful blog, on facebook or twitter.