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TV Takes on Autism: “The A-Word” Features a Boy on the Spectrum

Check out this trailer for a BBC drama coming to SundanceTV. The A-Word tells the story of a five-year-old boy named Joe with a love of music. He becomes diagnosed with autism. The show centers around his family’s dynamic, as well as how they handle the disorder.

The show features actors like Christopher Eccleston (which is exciting for Doctor Who fans!), Lee Ingleby and newcomer Max Vento as Joe.

Reviews of the show are mixed. It definitely features some very common aspects of the disorder, such as meltdowns, rude stares and comments from strangers, and social isolation and being left out of social events. In addition, Sonia Saraiya, a film critic, notes the heartwarming relationship between Joe and his sister, Rebecca (Molly Wright); their parents often leave Rebecca by the wayside, yet she has a real and deep relationship with her brother.

However, there are some flaws with the portrayal of autism, particularly in that it is too stereotypical at times. For example, Joe has a “special, genius-like talent” in terms of his memory, which is a common (and not always true) stereotype surrounding people with autism. So overall it’s a pretty mixed bag.

Have you seen The A Word? Tell us what you thought of it, and be sure to check out this other TV show about autism!

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A. Stout received a Bachelor of Arts in Writing through Grand Valley State University, graduating Magna Cum Laude in 2015. In addition to being a passionate autism advocate, she is a member of various fandoms, a study abroad alumna, and an animal lover. She dreams of publishing novels and traveling all over the world someday.