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Thursday, 15 April 2010

Young, Autistic and Stagestruck on Channel 4.

I looked forward to this programme SO much. At last...a much needed vault into the spotlight to show those "tutters" and blatant disbelievers EXACTLY what we have to go through on a day-to-day basis.

I have to say, it started well. The beautiful little girl called Mollie was having a bit of a melt-down and tearing round the garden in the way that PDA children do. Fantastic, I thought....this could be Daisy. Let's see how her mum deals with wait.....let's cut to another child displaying autistic behaviours, OK....I get that, all autistic people are different just like NT let's cut to Ben.....a fantastic kid who was far more intelligent than the person behind the camera who asked him some, frankly, idiot questions.

After that, it just got worse. Much worse. We we introduced to 2 directors from the Lyric Theatre who had never worked with Autistic people before. This showed. Much. They were deeply patronising and immediately set up a "them and us" sitation.

I was deeply annoyed to see that Mollie was allowed to take herself off and hide under a curtain. The camera kept returning to Mollie and showing her peeping out from under the curtain. The only point of this exercise was to make her look cute. I simply cannot see any other reason. Let's get this utterly clear: PDA ISN'T CUTE. It's nasty and pervasive. Not cute. Ever. If  Daisy displayed that behaviour it would be because she was stressed to the hilt. You can't put a PDA child (I can't speak about PDA adults as I don't have one yet!) in a room full of unpredictable strangers and not get a reaction. A big, big part of PDA is their deep anxiety caused by not knowing what is going to happen next and their inability to predict what might happen. This is why Daisy is a complete control freak...if she is in control then she knows EXACTLY what is coming next. It would have been impossible for Mollie to be in control. Hence the safety of the curtain.

We were told that there was a team of specialised carers on hand at all times. Certainly didn't see any sign of them in Mollie's case. Where were they? Why were they not on camera? How much more enlightening for the audience to see just how much effort would have gone into helping Mollie. Maybe it just doesn't make good TV....

For the first time in my life I complained about a TV programme.

I will be watching again, though. If only in the hope that it will get better. There will never be any justification in causing an Autistic person undue stress though. 


  1. What's wrong with letting her stay under the safe curtain?

  2. Once she's that stressed out, nothing. Believe me, had it been Daisy, nothing short of a small bomb would shift her! My point was that the children and young adults were there to meet and bond with each other and the directors etc. You can't do that if you are allowed to become so stressed that you are compelled to go and hide. Plus, is it fair to allow a child to become so anxious in a supposedly "safe" area that she feels the need to hide?