BBC Three’s Autistic Season: A review of The Autistic Me – One Year On and Autistic Driving School
30/04/2010 4 Comments
In 2009, BBC Three showed a documentary called The Autistic Me which told the story of three young adults and how they cope with having autism, something that has not been attempted before on British television.
What they showed received critical acclaim and bought great success not just through ratings but for autistic people, this coming about because a degree of clarity finally began to emerge that everybody isn’t the same who has any sort of spectrum syndrome.
As the initial broadcast featuring now 16 year-old Tom, Oliver (20) and Alex (25) proved so popular, a follow up was aired just over a week ago to show changes in their lives 12 months later.
Keeping with the channel’s season which focuses on how people with autism function in ‘normal’ situations, a variety of programmes have been commissioned showing various ways of life that will come together to make viewers aware that those with disabilities are capable of doing anything they wish.
Showing how Tom, Oliver and Alex have progressed over a 12-month period, The Autistic Me – One Year On has charted the achievements of the three documentary subjects since the original programme was shown and by continuing their autism season, Autistic Driving School has showed how people with autism can help each other in achieving life goals.
The Autistic Me – One Year On
After getting an initial insight into the lives of three incredibly different members of society, it was very interesting seeing how life is treating them after what had proved to be a year of great change for everybody involved.
Something else which surprised me was even though I’ve not shared everything that each of the three case studies involved had been through, there were certain traits of their behaviour I feel in daily life or have experienced over past years that proves wrong a great stigma brought on by those trying to understand the condition that everybody is equal and has similar characteristics.
These general thoughts couldn’t be more wrong, everybody is different by nature and therefore don’t have many similarities at all.
Take Tom for example, a youngster who has gone through school with many social issues but is now finding his feet in life and becoming much more confident at college as he enters adulthood.
Beforehand there didn’t seem to be too much happiness as communication problems held any improvements back, though opportunities like leaving home for a period of time and going into different educational environments really seemed to bring him out of his shell.
Now in a band whilst making friends, there have been complete changes behaviour wise that will reap benefits later which strangely made me proud as his fantastic progress was documented for all to see.
I smiled at this because I’d been through similar times and felt these feelings too, college is nothing like school in terms of structure and therefore has power that can potentially change anybody’s opinion of the education system.
Such developments are helping a quiet teenager to blossom and leave insecurity behind, this would surely be enough to make anybody feel warm inside like I did after watching?
Oliver on the other hand hasn’t had things go quite so positively in recent months.
He was shown working at the British Library and really enjoying something that meant a lot to him, though since there have been complications which has resulted in unemployment and periods of depression regarding the current jobless situation.
Once again I can relate and understand why there are signs of sadness, this is because I’ve felt exactly the same way but hopefully there will be happier developments soon enough.
Finally, what has happened to Alex?
Relationships are on his mind which is something I’m glad to report as romance continues to grow with Kirsty, a girl who the 25 year-old met online through an internet chat room who also has autism.
First encounters between the couple seemed very tense and unnerving as they both seemed wary of each other, however 12 months on a relationship has developed which gives an impression that two soul-mates may have found love in a surprising way.
I’ve again got reason to understand this because there were times that I’d be on such websites constantly and then meet users away from the computer, though this has ceased now.
To sum up the documentary, I found what was shown very interesting and loved finding out how everybody had grown in themselves. Hopefully you’ll feel the same from reading my views, please let me know your thoughts as I’m always curious wondering what you think.
Autistic Driving School
Compared with the previous programme, this latest offering was completely different in terms of what it shown and portrayed.
Instead of showing how change can affect certain stages of development, we were invited into lives of people with autism as they learned how to drive and combat problems that may occur such as confidence behind the wheel and gaining qualifications required to obtain a licence.
Personally there are a couple of case studies that really stood out from the documentary for me, it is these that I’ll speak about as many of the issues bought up mirrored themselves in every situation.
The reason why these isolated examples sparked my imagination is because they tell a story of both instructor and learner, something which can produce special relationships but perhaps even more so when two Autistic people who received very late diagnosis meet and engage for this purpose.
Teaching was 43-year-old Julia Malkin, somebody who has become one of the most decorated driving instructors in the United Kingdom after battling against bullying due to her Asperger’s Syndrome which meant leaving school without any qualifications.
Following these early setbacks, it was only in May 2008 that an AS diagnosis was finally confirmed after years of confusion with her decision to take up instructing being made a short time before when she witnessed an accident on the road.
Julia came across as being very passionate about her job and after doing further research for the sake of this post, it’s all too easy to truly admire obstacles that have been pushed aside whilst achieving something truly brilliant not just for personal gain but also learners who pay for skills that she offers.
By watching Autistic Driving School, ways of communication and teachings shown have made me realise that a lot of hard work has been done that proves fruitful with great results. This is definitely something to be proud of, yet another sign that any goal can be reached no matter what holds it back.
On screen we are told of how she is attempting to help a female driver from Birmingham gain confidence to drive despite passing her test years before.
Severe doubt shown as autism had manifested itself in such a way that even holding a conversation was an issue through being shy, meaning that part of the battle to gain friendship was initially getting speech to flow freely before getting into any car.
Eventually it became clear that trust had been gained as lessons commenced, this proving that with a little hard work anything can be achieved which may not only impact somebody personally but also improve lives of others too.
Surely such a thing can only be good, what it did was leave me with happy thoughts that even though there can be so much bad in life there is also room for positivity.