After telling the whole village about Joe being autistic I would have thought his parents would have spoken to him about it. I understand he was 5 when he went missing but to not even address it is a little peculiar. It’s really sad that he had to hear he was autistic from someone else.
Telling William that he is autistic has never been a question for us. When he is old enough to understand we will explain it to him. Our main issue is how we tell him, how we will explain it to him. It’s not as if we can answer the why’s he may have. ‘Why me?’ I don’t know son. We asked ourselves the same question for years. It’s a hard thing to plan because we don’t know at what age he will be ready for this kind of conversation.
When things like this happen, it’s always Joe it happens to.
Sarah Hibbs. The A Word
The speech with the other parents at the school was interesting. It’s a lack of understanding. It’s like the other parents expected them to be able to just come up with a way he can stop these behaviours but it’s not that simple. The reasons behind not sending him to special school were very similar to the ones we had before we decided where to send William. It’s a hard decision to make. Do you want them to have a ‘normal’ school life? But then who is it normal for? Or do you send them to somewhere who can speak and educate them on their own level?
I’m not the same.
Joe Hughes. The A Word.
Episode 2 starts with the change to Joe’s morning routine. Not only is the school itself different but due to how far away it is there isn’t time for his morning routine meaning Joe is struggling even more with the change. I really love the look book they created for him. Pictures of his old school, teacher and friends and the pictures of what the new school is like. I’ve seen parents in my support group who’ve made very similar things to address changes or events. To go step by step through what will happen on a holiday, in an airport etc. They’re brilliant and if it’s something we will need in the future I look forward to naming them for William. I love a bit of crafting ☺
He’s our family’s north star, we follow him. It’s how it has to be.
Alison Hughes. The A Word.
Paul’s face when Mark is having his meltdown is so full of fear and I understand that. Is this kind of meltdown what he has to look forward to? Autism isn’t something children can grow out of and it looks as if Paul has just realised that and it is hard. That realisation that this is with you for life and it’s hard. That moment if first dawns on you. It hits you like a brick to the first but hurts twice a much. 🤕
Episode 3 had more Ralph ❤ I love Ralph so much and his relationship with Maurice is so innocent and really good to watch. I’m so glad he hired him at the brewery.
Well to be honest I did feel a bit of a stirring in the glove compartment 🤣
Maurice Hughes. The A Word
Episode 4, the night away without the kids. Without Joe. I’m not saying that he shouldn’t be the centre of their universe but they have massively lost touch with themselves as a couple. I worry about Dave and I, before I was on furlough we rarely saw each other and just touch base every now and again but it was always William centred. I think we need to make a conscious effort to spend time as ourself when lockdown is over. Dinner and a movie as Marie and Dave instead of as William’s parents.
Episode 5 starts with a video of Joe. A video his auntie has compiled of his behaviours. She wants to use the video to help parents who have ‘Joe type’ autism. She clearly explains that when people think of autism they either think of a non verbal child in meltdown or a rain man type. Autism is such a big spectrum it’s difficult not to picture one type of person. I suppose autism has a stereotype just like anything else. I will forever picture William when I think about autism but that’s not what I pictured before. I suppose its difficult to be educated in something so vast. I can honestly say that until it became part of our lives I hadn’t bothered to learn anything about it.
The arguments between Paul and Alison are so hard to watch. Paul seemed so accepting in season one but as time has gone on he seems to regress and swap places with where Alison was in the beginning.
I love Joe but I hate his autism!
Paul Hughes. The A Word.
I’m really struggling to sympathise with Paul. It feels like his character has done a complete 180° he was accepting and understanding and now he is just a bit of a pathetic dick. Especially with his views on the video. I can’t understand why he doesn’t want it used if the footage of their son can help local GPs diagnose autism sooner by giving them a better understanding.
It’s a different way of being human
Alison Hughes. The A Word.
Mark ❤ he reads his hope’s and aspirations that I believe are for his EHCP. His just wants things everyone else takes for granted, the be happy, to have an education and to be accepted by friends. Its heartbreaking and inspirational at the same time.
Every bit of progress that has ever been made to peoples attitude towards autism has been made because people talked about it, were open about it, explained it.
Nicola Daniels. The A Word.
Episode 6, season finale. Paul just wants to run away, he wants to pretend nothing is happening. He wants to end his relationship because he can’t cope with how well Alison is coping. Its upsetting because they should be pulling together but statistically parents raising a child with autism are 10% more likely to get divorced compared to those with neuro typical children. This is much more prevalent for those who’s children are 8 or over. So 5 years left of married bliss before I have to give Dave the old heave-ho 🤣 but on a serious note it is difficult to pull together when you each have your own ways of dealing with a diagnosis. We do worry about it, me more than Dave as I’m often a neurotic mess but the thoughts are always there. Will we make it through this? Can we make it through because there isn’t an end really? There is just the journey.
Overall season 2 was brilliant but in a completely different way to its predecessor. It seemed to focus more on the fractured relationships of the family rather than on Joe. It was a greta watch but again not in the same way the first was.
I would still highly recomend it and personally look forward to season 3. 💙
So the first episode throws you straight in to everyday life for the Hughes family, Joe’s behaviours, the ways in which his parents compensate for him and explain away any problematic issues (He just likes music…) and the way others have already started discussing him behind their backs.
When season 3 premiered I received deluge of texts and calls saying it was back on, I had to watch it, It’s about autism! Although I am really glad otherwise I wouldn’t have known to check it out. It did make my laugh at the time because Big Nan called as her friend called her to tell her to call me 🥴
I think i must be about 10 mins in and the confrontation between Alison and her family who think there is something wrong with Joe is so familiar that it has me sobbing 😭 The blinds are open so anyone passing may think I’m having a breakdown. Its not in any way easy to admit your child is different and its most definitely not easy to listen to someone else say it.
The cast is brilliant especially the 3 main family members; Mum, Alison. Dad, Paul and Joe. I’m slightly concerned that Christopher Eccleston is the Grandad and not the leading man… when the Hell did that happen? How old am I?🤔
Alison is doing exactly what I did, she is researching and dealing with Joe’s issues in secret like there is something to be ashamed of. Almost as if its dirty. Not the fact there is something wrong but the fact you believe it.
During Joe’s assessment with Dr. Waites Paul keeps jumping in and she threatens to make him wait outside. Dave was always so quick to jump in a explain away William’s issues and sugarcoat things. To be honest I think we both were but it took Dave longer to be honest about it.
The whole thing about birthday parties and invites is something that I worry about massively as William gets older. Will William want to be invited to parties or will it be us wanting him to be invited? It seems like the lack of invite for Joe is affecting Paul and Alison but Joe himself is oblivious.
Someone shared something on Facebook the other day about how hard it is to have people stare and judge when your little one is having a meltdown. It really does hurt when people do this. I totally understand that some people may not grasp what our child is doing and why but that doesn’t give them the right to pass judgement. It is hard to keep your chin up when your little one is trying to take other peoples food in a restaurant but then throws their own food behind their back or decides to lay on the floor or crawl instead of walking. We have actively avoided certain places. It sound ridiculous but planning to take William anywhere takes more preparation than a bloody wedding. 👰
It’s not going to go away if we call it something different.
Dr Waites. The A Word
Episode 2 jumps straight in showing Joe isolated at school, he seems perfectly happy but it hits Alison hard. William is really happy alone and we have had to learn how to play with him rather than teaching him how to play with us. However more times than not he chooses to be alone and will walk away from us to do his own thing. It took us a long time to get used to this as following him will upset him.
They push Joe into doing things he doesn’t want to do. To play in different ways, to play in a way in which is deemed ‘normal’ but this isn’t Joe’s normal and its uncomfortable to see.
Alison worries about him becoming labelled in school and how it will effect him. Paul argues that he already has a label with his autism diagnosis but she is having none of it. I guess this brings us back to one of our older posts about the benefits and pitfalls of having a diagnosis. Check it out here…
Its interesting to see how Joe’s diagnosis effects the rest of his family and to watch the conversations had behind closed doors, especially from Maurice as he doesn’t hold anything back and says it as it is. It does make me wonder what our families have said about William before we were so open about it. Did they say things like ‘he isn’t normal’? Did they grieve for the grandchild, nephew or cousin that they thought they would get? It is eye opening as in the beginning you are very much in a bubble, its just you and your child fighting for diagnosis and help but you forget the rest of family are still there with the same worries and feeling you have.
I really feel for Rebecca as the older child. She seems to be going through a pivotal part of her adolescence and no one seems to be noticing or caring. She is just left to her own devices and frankly a little neglected. She obviously cares for her brother a lot which is brilliant and they have an amazing bond, she just ‘gets him’ but it also beautifully highlights both the disadvantages and advantages of having other children. Check out our post about it here…
Watching Joe have a meltdown because he can’t get what he wants is an all too familiar situation. Joe is very vocal about wanting his music and shouts and breaks things. Whereas William will lash out at me or himself to vent his frustration. Before we could admit anything was wrong I used to think it was a way of him manipulating us into getting what he wants, although we now understand that it’s more like what William needs rather than wants. Needs to feel safe and comfortable. Whether it is a biscuit or BabyTV or even for us to press Duggee’s musical arm 5 million times in a row 🤯
Shame (insert naked Cersei Lannister here)… its something we all feel no matter how old our child is when autism is first addressed or even whispered about. Paul hit the nail on the head when he is telling Alison she is ashamed of him for having it, ashamed of them for not picking it up sooner and ashamed for feeling ashamed in the first place.
Episode 3 starts with the first meeting with a speech and language therapist… It feels a little unrealistic as it happened so quickly. There are no wait lists in the lake district? She came from Manchester so there must be no wait lists there either… Think we need to relocate 🤔
Maggie, their SALT is nothing like ours. Its was a frightening experience but that was all in our heads. I’m not a massive fan of people I don’t know coming into our house. I tend to get really anxious and end up snapping at Dave every time. our SALT was lovely, her name is Sally and she really put me at ease and William enjoyed interacting with her. Maggie is very straight talking and blunt and although it makes me like her from a viewing point of view, I can not imagine she would have gone down so well had she been the one to turn up at our house. I suppose all professionals have their own approach and use it to determine how to help their patients.
Alison is desperately trying to communicate with Joe and even tries to engage him in play. She is desperately trying to bribe him to do things with her, it feels like she wants to show Maggie that this isn’t her fault. In a look at me sort of way. I feel her pain. I would love William to sit with me and read books without eating them or play with cars on the floor in the conventional way but that’s not how he plays. He takes comfort in lining his toys up and moving them from place to place which is a solitary activity and if I get involved he gets upset.
Another thing I find super unrealistic is the fact Maggie spends so much time at their house on first visit and the fact she is coming back the following day. Is she privately paid? If that is the case why didn’t Alison recognise Maggie’s name? We waited Months and months for a SALT visit and months after that we have still only had the one which lasted about an hour.
More prime examples of Rebecca being brushed aside and forgotten. She is trying to get her parents to show an interest in her school play and they immediately turn it into another conversation about her brother. Every time she tries to talk they ignore her.
It is something we are very aware that we already do, our world revolves around William, making sure William is getting the adequate support is our main focus and it is one of biggest talking points. Why shouldn’t we tell people what’s going on, his achievements or even how hard it is? But this shouldn’t been done at the detriment of other siblings. This is why having another child worries us so much. The unfairness of it all. How could we go from giving William 100% of our time and energy to splitting it? could it be split equally? Should it be split equally?
Alison missed Rebecca’s play, she missed it and it was so important to her. All because she wanted to bully Maggie into seeing Joe. To top things off they end up arguing about Joe and don’t even realise that Rebecca has gone 😢 I can almost smell the teen pregnancy story line in the works.
I must say the soundtrack is absolutely belting 🎧
Episode 4 starts by showing how much strain Paul is under and how Alison is pushing all her energy into Joe and getting him help. She has actively volunteered for the school in order to gain more insight into Joe’s behaviour with other kids and it’s difficult to watch. It made me feel uncomfortable, she is there to supposedly help the other children read but is focusing on spying on her own child the entire time. However I don’t think I should be surprised she is neglecting other peoples kids when she ignores her own daughter all the time.
The Fever Effect, A fever usually makes you less alert, tired, and ratty however in some children with autism, a fever makes them ‘better’, more social, alert, even talkative. It has been described as providing a glimpse into what your child might be like without autism.The hope in Alison’s voice as she tell Paul that Joe is ‘turning a corner’ after he has been poorly is absolutely heartbreaking. You can see it in Paul’s face as they embrace that he knows it’s not true. And then the next day Alison describes him as being ‘back to abnormal’ 😢
She said she felt like she could see the real Joe underneath all his autism. 🤔 Joe is Joe. Having autism is part of who Joe is, it’s a pivotal part of Joe’s make up the same way it is William’s. Those moments in which he looks at me and I mean really looks are so special and I wouldn’t trade those for the world. even the times he can stare into space and be in his own world and then just giggle at whatever is in his head…. granted late at night this creeps me out and I often refer to him as a psychopath 🤪
Oh god Rebecca hit the nail on the head suggesting Alison’s manifesto for school governor. ‘All children matter but not as much as Joe’ ouch! Shots fired! 🔫🔫🔫
Episode 5 shows how the loss of a person can massively effect not only someone with autism but their family too. It beautifully displays the slow build up of Joe’s emotions and how he struggles to release them. He loves Maya in his own way and the fact that she has been taken away from him takes it’s time to sink in fully and its heartbreaking to see. He begins by withdrawing slightly and then slowly goes into full blown meltdown. Its beautifully handled by actor Max Vento.
William’s main worker at nursery was originally a woman called Linda, he loved Linda so much and couldn’t wait to be with her. He didn’t bother with other children but could happily spend all his time with her. Linda was lovely and motherly not only to William but to us too, she just had a way about her that immediately put you at ease. I knew our little boy was safe with her. BUT William couldn’t stay with Linda as he needed someone who was trained in children with SEN to help him develop. In came Val… she specialised in SEN. She was going to be William’s key worker meaning he couldn’t spend his time with Linda. It was OK at first but then William started actively trying to find Linda at nursery, giving Val the slip. When this didn’t work he stopped wanting to go to nursery at all. 😢 Do you know how we fixed it? We didn’t. It was hard and difficult but he needed Val. He needed her to support him properly in his education but he needed Linda for comfort and we had to chose which was most important and that had to be his education.
Paul’s and Alison’s discussion about having another child perfectly represent in equal measures our own thoughts on the subject. They argue about it as two sides of the fence but with us we just sit in the middle both agreeing with the reason for and against but commit either way. One day it’s a 100% not a chance in Hell and the next we are a little broody. 🤷♀️
Episode 6, the series finale. It kicks off at the launch of their family pub and Joe is struggling. It’s hard for him to be around so many people in a new environment. It’s bloody hard for me to be around so many people in a new environment and I don’t have autism. Alison is desperate for Joe to stay as he is part of their family but Paul is quite happy for him to be left out and removed from the situation which feels as if it’s done to save embarrassment.
Joe goes missing whilst with his grandad. Paul and Alison are speaking to a search party and they’ve just admitted to everyone that Joe is autistic for the first time. Alison describing the fact he may not know he is lost or in even in danger has really struck a chord. One of my biggest worries about William’s future is because he has no perception of danger. I’m sure I have said it before but he would walk off a cliff if it was to get to biscuit.
The suspicion that falls to Ralph is awful. Alison immediate pegs it for what it is and that it’s because he has Down syndrome. Just this small conversation shows how much Alison is growing in her acceptance of disabilities but then she goes round to their house and confronts Louise and Ralph anyway 😕. She shows these signs of growth but then disappoints as usual. The theme of prejudice runs strong in this series finale especially how bad it can be within such a small community.
Overall season one was brilliant. I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t an easy watch and some parts have been like re-watching conversations and feelings Dave and I have had over the past two years. The stress placed upon Alison and Paul’s relationship. The lack of communication. Its things we have all gone through as we come to terms with as Paul puts it; our grief over the children we could have had.
Its is definitely a series I would recommend to anyone who has an autistic child within their lives as it gives an accurate insight into not only what the child goes through but their families too.
I look forward to starting season two and hope it is as good as the first 😊