Posted in Reviews

Paddy and Christine McGuinness: Our Family and Autism – Review

Was anyone else massively disappointed with ‘Paddy and Christine McGuinness: Our family and autism’? I can’t be the only one who watched it and when it was over thought ‘is that it?’

The very beginning of the documentary was raw and even painful, as Paddy told the camera’s he didn’t know if he kids loved him or knew he loved them; it hit home. My partner reached for the tissues as I immediately started blubbing as it resonated with me. I think it’s a fear most parents have, not just those with children on the spectrum, but for us it takes a lot longer if ever to have that question answered. I for one often look at William and wonder, he will do things that often make me think he loves me, but this is often his way of using me as a way to meet his wants and needs, as the educational psychologist so coldly put in his report (credit where credit is due, he warned me that it would be a hard read)

I loved that Paddy met children at his local school, to speak to them but I was a little riled up when one of the children expressed how she spirals into anxiety about the thought of being late to school and its consequences and Paddy simple said ‘that’s normal’ I may be reading into it but the girl went of camera after this and the reason stated was that she was overwhelmed but I took what Paddy had said in a bad way and maybe she did to… maybe I’m over sensitive but that made me feel he was saying she wasn’t normal, I’m not sure why my mind thought that but it did and I can’t be the only one.

I loved the fact he met up with Paul Scholes and discussed his son Aiden with him who is 16, non-verbal and has some complex needs, it was refreshing to see two men who have influence and the ability to help with autism awareness, be so honest about their struggle, their fears and hopes for their children. I had no idea Pauls son was on the spectrum, let alone about the journey they have gone through together. I will definitely be doing more reading on their journey as I have recently seen an article about how he was worried he would have to put him into care, I think it would be a hard read but am looking forward to it, I enjoy reading about other parents and their journeys which is why I feel a little disappointed by Paddy and Christine’s documentary, it felt rushed and not about what parents like me face… the fight for diagnosis, the struggle to obtain financial support, the fight for the right education. I guess it just shows that having money does get you further, their parents may have money but that doesn’t mean their kids such get preferential treatment to those who need the support from poorer families.
Another prime example of this is that Christine did the AQ test and was shown to have autistic traits and by the end of the episode they were saying she had a diagnosis!

As much as I appreciate them bringing such widespread awareness to autism, what I want to see on the screen is a real-life expectation of the journey, show me the parents like me or those worse off. Show me the desperation and fight just to get our kids what they need. Document the 2 plus years of waiting for an official diagnosis, the fight with DWP to obtain DLA in order to buy specialised clothes, bedding and toys (and the rest) for our kids. The fight to get into an adequate school or any school at all… I’m not saying Paddy and Christine’s struggle isn’t real as I really appreciate all they do for awareness and if I had the money, I would do the same thing but for most parents it’s just not possible. I want realness on the TV, I want the next parent who doesn’t know what autism is until its their own child has something they can use as a guideline, so they don’t breakdown like I did. I don’t think it’s too much to ask, is it?

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