The Autistic Me – One Year On: Shaking Off The Stigma

April 22, 2010 by  
Filed under - Home, Reviews

THE AUTISTIC ME – ONE YEAR ON: Thursday 22nd April, BBC 3, 9pm ALERT ME

Stepping from youth to adulthood is hard enough as it is. Choosing a career path, settling down and leaving the family home is a tough task – a transition that’s infinitely harder for those with autism.

Thanks to documentaries like this one the disorder is probably better understood now then ever before, but that doesn’t mean its sufferers don’t still struggle to be accepted.

Last year Matt Rudge’s The Autistic Me followed the lives of three men as they made their way in the big wide world. A year on, Ollie, Tom and Alex get a second visit from film crews to see how they are getting on. Ollie, who has just turned 24, is still fighting the stigma attached to autism. He says: “I don’t want people to treat me like a walking freak show”. Unlike many of Britain’s benefit claiming layabouts he is desperate to work after his contract with the British Library came to an end.

Tom, 16, and his family have recently moved from Kent to Cornwall and he is about to attend his first day at college in his new hometown. Meanwhile romance is blossoming for Asperger’s syndrome suffering Alex, 25, and he is saving up the cash to visit his girlfriend Kirsty with whom he shared a first date in the original programme.

What the film makes clear is how determined its subjects are to live as normal a life as possible but how society’s non-acceptence makes this impossible. Ollie, who has now moved into sheltered accomodation, impresses at mock interviews but has been turned down again and again by potential employers. His desperation is clear as he cries: “I have no life! Talk to me somebody!” However, a day’s work trial at Asda proves promising.

Head over heels in love Alex and Kirsty (who also has autism) have a touching relationship which blossoms by the end of the programme.

But it’s not all rosy for Tom. He has only had a two word conversation with one student at college and there are fears he will relapse into the non-talking cycle he spent four and a half years in while at school.

This brilliant film questions your prejudices while revealing what life is really like for those with the increasingly understood disorder. Sadly it seems that, despite insightful programmes such as this, society’s unsympathetic attitude toward sufferers is the only thing holding them back.