I often feel that once you have the diagnosis you aren’t helped to discover what things are related to autism or not, which makes it hard to accept or understand yourself.
Watching Paige’s videos has allowed me to go “oh, maybe that’s why I do this” and “its not just me” which goes a long way in actually understanding your feelings and feeling more at peace.
Paige has autism and anxiety and spreads awareness on social media. She does a lot of stuff about autism in girls. Which I found is something that I’ve struggled a bit with because sometimes I don’t feel like I fit in. I haven’t really told anyone, but I worry that people won’t believe me saying that I have autism because I don’t feel that I fit in some of the stereotypes of autism and everything that I’ve read and seen online.
I haven’t seen anything that really reflects what it’s like for me. I don’t know just feel a bit less alone with Paige’s content, just from seeing that other people may be struggling with the same kind of things.
I think that having some influencers with different diagnosis’ that young people can relate to is so important and would really help a lot of people.
Below I have listed some of Paige’s content that helped me.
Autism traits in girls
Awareness and information about autism in Girls
There are 4 parts, below they are in order from 1-4.
F1 is the biggest racing series in the world and is slowly becoming one of the world’s biggest global sports. They race globally every year and are known as the “pinnacle of motorsport”.
Ten teams race two cars and two drivers across 23 races (as of the 2022 season) around the world every year to determine the World Driver’s Championship.
In recent times, F1 has shown support to people of colour, from different ethnic backgrounds, and people from the LGBTQ+ community.
What F1 and its teams and drivers doing to support the LGBTQ+ community?
“We Race as One” campaign
In July 2020, F1 introduced the “We Race as One” campaign, which was used to spread awareness to the COVID-19 pandemic, and also it brings attention to the fight against inequality to ethnic groups and the LGBTQ+ community.
The logo consisted of a rainbow which was the colours of all the 10 teams on the F1 grid, which matched with the name “We Race as One”. These logos are placed predominantly on the F1 tracks, and it is also placed on some of the cars and driver race suits.
Sir Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton will go down as a racing legend, with 7 world champion titles, and more than 100 race wins.
But he will also go down as a legend for the work he has done for minority groups. He is very vocal about supporting minority groups, including the LGBTQ+ community.
In 2021, Lewis wore a helmet with the colours of the LGBTQ+ rainbow flag in 3 countries with very strong prejudice and laws against LGBTQ+ rights.
The helmet read “We Stand Together” on the back of the helmet. He faced major backlash for this from locals and some officials, but still went ahead with it anyway in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Abu Dhabi.
Another driver who is very vocal about LGBTQ+ rights is German 4-time world champion Sebastian Vettel.
Before the 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix, he was wearing a shirt and mask in the colours of the LGBTQ+ flag with the words “Same Love” written on the shirt.
He received criticism for this as Hungary is a country with very strong anti LGBTQ+ laws in place, and just 24 days before the race, the Hungarian government released more anti-LGBTQ+ laws, which targeted content which features homosexuality.
He also was the first F1 driver to feature on the cover of Attitude Magazine, as an ally to the LGBT community.
Abbie Eaton is a racer who currently races in W Series, which is a formula series exclusively for women. She is known as the test driver on Amazon’s The Grand Tour, which starred Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May.
She would drive the latest cars around the Grand Tour test track, and she also featured in other episodes. She is also an ambassador for Racing Pride, she hopes by doing this she can break stereotypes in motorsport.
The Power of Celebrity Voices
Both these drivers also use their strong media presence to get these messages across. Lewis expresses his messages to his 28 million Instagram followers, and he sometimes may include messages in post-race interviews.
Sebastian does not use social media, but he uses other methods, such as custom helmet designs, and other forms of publicity stunts to show his support, such as wearing shirts and speaking on this to tv channels.
For example, he featured on BBC Question Time, where he spoke on climate change and other world matters.
In the past, racing drivers were not as free to share their opinions, on track or off track, but in more recent times, thanks to the dawn of social media, drivers can now feel freer to post their opinions on Instagram, and they feel free to speak about them on track, which is seen by millions of people.
Sebastian and Lewis are also not the only drivers to share their voice, other drivers also wear shirts with special messages on them during pre-race celebrations.
Racing Pride is a movement which was made to promote LGBTQ+ inclusivity in motorsport.
They were formed in 2019, and they intend to make “significant and lasting change” to motorsport.”
The community comprises of drivers, team members and track marshals from the LGBTQ+ community.
They work with Formula drivers from the LGBTQ+ community, including Abbie Eaton.
They have also worked with Aston Martin F1, Alpine F1 Team and Sebastian Vettel.
Pride 2022, find out what F1 are doing this Pride Month
One way F1 teams and drivers have been showing support is by adding special touches to the liveries of the race cars, and race suits and helmets.
In June 2022, in time for Pride Month, F1 teams have made changes to their liveries in support of the LGBTQ+ community.
Mercedes AMG F1 Team are racing with the “Pride Edition” version of their three-pointed star for the month of June, which is placed on the front of the Mercedes W13 car, and on the helmets of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell.
Alpine F1 Team are also working with Racing Pride, and they have also placed the Pride Flag on their cars, above the engine cover.
McLaren F1 Team have also put a rainbow on their famous speed mark logo, which is placed on their MCL36 car, alongside working with Mind, supporting LGBTQ+ people’s mental health.
Scuderia Ferrari, one of the oldest F1 teams, also have the “essereFerrari” (meaning Spirit of Ferrari) in Pride Colours, which features on the front wing of the F1-75 car, and the helmets of both drivers, Charles Leclerc, and Carlos Sainz.
Looking into the future
F1 themselves do not have any openly gay drivers, but this is not something they are against.
There is plenty of young talent in the younger Formulas who are looking to join F1 in the future, and with all the work that Racing Pride have done for the motorsport world, and these powerful voices in the F1 community, we can surely be ready to see members join soon.
F1 does have many openly gay team members in the garage working for the teams, who work on the cars making sure they can be as fast as possible for the drivers who drive them.
Modern Family is an American family sitcom / mockumentary which revolves around three different types of families (The Dunphys, The Pritchetts and the Tucker-Pritchetts) who are all interconnected to each other through Jay Pritchett, the patriarch (Grandfather/Father) of the family. The show was incredibly popular, and it ran for 11 seasons from 2009 until 2020.
Throughout the series, the show tackled a lot of themes either relating to the family or to real life issues in the world around them such as love, bullying, age differences, family values. However, in this blog, we will be focusing on the theme of LGBTQ+ due to two of the main characters, Mitch and Cam, being a gay couple in the series.
How Mitch and Cam are presented in the show.
Mitch and Cam are main characters in Modern Family as well as being an LGBTQ couple, they appeared in nearly every episode throughout the show’s run as well as being a part of major storylines that either involved their family, the LGBTQ community, or a mixture of both worlds due to them getting married in Season 5 with their loving and supportive family by their side.
When we were first introduced to them in the first episode, they adopted a Vietnamese girl called Lily who they raised and deeply loved and the family fell in love with her when they introduced her in the first episode. In Season 3, they attempted to adopt another baby but sadly didn’t succeed, however by Season 11, they decided to adopt a baby boy after their adoption profile was reactivated.
A major storyline around Mitch and Cam started in the first episode of season 5 after it was revealed that California has legalised gay marriage, Mitch and Cam proposed to each other by the end of the first episode even though a few members of the family were helping both out with their own separate proposals.
Throughout Season 5, a few of the episodes built up the hype for Mitch and Cam’s wedding such as one episode introducing a new LGBTQ character to help with designing the wedding, those episodes all finally led up to the finale where Mitch and Cam finally get married in front of their friends and family even though there were many mishaps along the way.
How Jay’s views of the LGBTQ community change over the series
Jay was presented as a traditional old white American when the series began, and it was mentioned that Mitch had to come out to him three times due to him not understanding why his son is gay which led to their relationship becoming strained. Even though he becomes closer to them, there were moments that his old ideals got the better of him.
An example of this was in an episode of season one where Jay introduced Cam as his son’s friend which made Mitch mad at him and pointed out that Jay’s friend might be gay. This prompted Jay to become supportive and comforts his friend, even though this was revealed to be a way of Mitch getting back at his dad, it shows how he deeply supports Mitch.
Another moment where Jay’s old ideals backfired heavily on him was when he couldn’t get his head around Mitch and Cam’s wedding and claims that he didn’t want it to be a massive spectacle in the episode before the season 5 finale which caused a massive rift between him and Mitch.
However, in the finale, Jay realised the errors of his ways and redeemed himself to show his love and appreciation for the wedding as well as Mitch and Cam by not only providing his golf club as a venue to the wedding, but he also walked Mitch down the aisle.
Even though he never said it, it is shown how he loves them deeply at certain points in the show by helping with the renovation of their burned down kitchen, bonding with Cam over football, and interacting with their LGBTQ friends. But in the finale of Modern Family, he announces that he loves Cam like another son to him as well as Mitch. The show explored this personal growth from homophobia to acceptance and understanding.
What themes around LGBTQ were shown in Modern Family?
Modern Family never shied away from tackling stereotypical topics in a few of the episodes as well as addressing real life issues that’s been happening in some of the episodes in the series or throughout the things that they say or mention.
Mitch never acted like a stereotypical gay person and his actor, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, is also gay and could therefore bring his lived experiences into the role. Cam did sometimes act flamboyantly in the earlier seasons, however both characters have their own individual aspirations such as Mitch being a lawyer and Cam having various careers before settling in as a openly gay football coach.
There were a few instances where there were some homophobic phrases or references to homophobia in the show, some examples comes from the first ever episode of the show when Mitch presumed someone called them “Cream Puffs” while the person was actually were commenting on the cream puffs that they were eating. Another example came from an episode where Hayley suggested that Alex was a lesbian though this wasn’t true. This was a powerful way for the show to address real life issues of discrimination in the LGBTQ+ community through comedy.
Did Modern Family impact the media / the world with their LGBTQ Representation?
Throughout its 11 year run, Modern Family inspired other TV shows to either bring in more LGBTQ characters due to Modern Family having a few number of LGBTQ supporting characters as well as having Mitch and Cam as their main characters.
The show also made other TV channels make sure that they had a better and positive portrayal to their own LGBTQ couples or main /supporting supporting characters without causing any offense to them.
In summary, Modern Family did represent the LGBTQ+ community to a high standard throughout the show’s run and made Mitch and Cam one of the most iconic couples in the media due to their stories and relationship throughout Modern Family. They also employed a gay actor to play a gay man which is important not only for representation but in ensuring the characters and stories are realistic.
Billie Eilish is a well-known international pop icon and lives in America, she has released two albums and an EP, she is also a seven-time Grammy Award winner, and she lives every day with Tourette Syndrome.
What is Tourette’s Syndrome?
Tourette’s is a nervous system disorder that presents with repetitive and uncontrolled movements (liking blinking or shoulder shrugging) or sounds. These are called “tics”. The condition is often present from childhood, but can be diagnosed later in life.
Billie shared that she’s had Tourette’s her “whole life”.
Billie Eilish and Tourette’s
While Billie has spoken openly about her experience with Tourette Syndrome, she hasn’t gone into too much detail.
Billie also hasn’t spoken about what her tics are, only that “certain things” can increase the intensity or trigger episodes.
Unfortunately, fans made YouTube videos of her tics which include her shrugging her shoulders, blinking rapidly, and looking upward. As a result, Billie shared her diagnosis through Instagram:
Billie has talked more about living with Tourette Syndrome in an interview with Ellen DeGeneres in 2019. She said on Ellen that she hadn’t spoken publicly about her condition before because she didn’t want her condition to define her. However, she now feels more positively about sharing her diagnosis:
That’s not the only interview Billie has done about Tourette’s. She gave fans insight into what her episodes are like while speaking in another interview one month prior:
Billie also talked a bit about her Tourette’s in a much recent interview this year with David Letterman on his Netflix show: My Next Guest Needs No Introduction. She shared how people react to her tics and how certain things sets the tics off, such as the lights.
She also talks about how other artists have shared with her that they also have Tourette’s:
Tom Stoltman is the current worlds strongest man after winning the competition in May 2022. He is also the:
2021 Worlds Strongest man
World record holder for the heaviest Atlas stone ever lifted (286kg!),
A two-time back-to-back winner of Britain’s strongest man,
A two-time winner of Scotland’s strongest man along with many other incredible podiums such as 3rd in worlds ultimate strongman and 2nd in the 2021 giants live finals.
Tom was diagnosed with autism when he was 8 years old and has spoken about his own struggles inside and outside of school. He has mentioned being bullied and worrying about what people would think if they found out he was autistic.
Tom’s Autism – in his own words.
However, he mentions that after telling his friends and others about his autism he felt a tremendous amount of relief after being accepted and supported by them. His friends made sure that he knew they accepted him for who he was and that it didn’t change a thing about their friendship which is truly phenomenal.
Luke Stoltman (Tom’s brother) has also talked about Tom’s experiences and growing up with him when he was younger. Referencing times that Tom would really struggle, he says,
Tom has said that he found it difficult when something didn’t go as planned, as he would become fearful and potentially breakdown. This also wasn’t helped when others would say that it didn’t matter, as this just made him feel very different to his friends and others.
Tom saw a great change in his life when he was first invited to go the gym by his older brother Luke as this was the start of an incredible ongoing career in the internationally competitive arena of ‘strongman’ for both. Tom found comfort in pushing himself in the gym as he mentioned he didn’t get along with the more traditional side of school such as maths and English, but he truly thrived when it came to Physical education and many other sports.
What he has done for the awareness of autism–
Tom Stoltman has gone on many podcasts, interviews and has personally made videos on him and his brothers YouTube channel. Some of these are linked below. He has been quoted saying phenomenal things such as:
“Autism is my secret weapon” and that it should be
“Used as a superpower”, he has also talked about how that just because he is labelled that it doesn’t make him different. He strives to be an example to other autistic children and show them that they too will achieve incredible things.
Mythbusters are a group of eighteen ambassadors who are using their platforms to tackle the stigma and lack of awareness around learning disabilities.
One of the ambassadors Jessica Jane who is a Paralympic champion and campaigner wants more people to know that just because a person does not look like they have a disability, does not mean that they don’t.
Who is ATLAS and what do they do?
ATLAS (Accept, Teach, Listen, Access, Support) is a participation group run by the User Voice and Participation team also does similar work as Mencap, by empowering children and young people (Their parents and carers involved too) with additional needs and disabilities to share their opinions about the services they use.
This is what some of their objectives are:
To raise our voices on important topics from the perspective of young people with additional needs and disabilities, living in Surrey (UK)
To provide feedback on and co-produce Surrey services for young people with additional needs and disabilities
To create a safe space for young people with additional needs and disabilities to share their experiences confidentially
If you want to read their other objectives, as well as other information about ATLAS, go on to this link:
Wonder was published in 2012 and it was written by R.J. Palacio. Wonder tells the story of 10-year-old Auggie Pullman, a boy with facial differences and his experiences dealing with the condition as he adapts to regular school life. It comes with ups and downs that involves different forms of bullying.
However, there are also brighter aspects as the book also explores other themes such as friendship and compassion as well as Auggie’s journey and self-confidence throughout the book.
The book was popular enough with readers to receive three additional books that relates to the story called Auggie and Me, 365 of Wonder and We’re all Wonders. The novel also gained a film adaptation that was produced by Lionsgate.
The film adaptation of Wonder was released on November 17th, 2017. It received positive reviews from critics and audiences, with many praising the actor’s portrayal of the characters that were in the book including Jacob Tremblay who played Auggie in the movie.
How was Auggie’s disability presented in the novel / movie?
The disability that Auggie has in the novel and movie is called Treacher Collins syndrome. This is a rare genetic condition that affects the way a child’s face develops, especially the cheekbones, jaws, ears, and eyelids.
The book was inspired by a real-life encounter that the author’s son had with a child who had a similar disability to the one that Auggie has in the novel. This encounter as well as a song called “Wonder” inspired the author to write the book hoping that it could illustrate a valuable lesson.
Even though the movie was received well by viewers, there were heavy criticisms mainly from the disabled community about casting a non-disabled actor to play Auggie in the movie. He was made to look disfigured with extensive makeup and had to fake a speech impediment.
Jacob Tremblay did reach out to children with craniofacial differences to accurately portray their experiences, however the critics condemned the director for not trying hard enough to find an actual disabled actor to play Auggie.
How were certain topics tackled throughout the novel and movie?
A major aspect that is presented in the novel and movie is that even though Wonder begins from Auggie’s point of view. However it soon switches to the perspectives of his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, his best friend, and others.
The author did this as she wanted the reader to see how all the character’s voices converge to portray a community as it struggles with differences, as well as showing the true nature of empathy, compassion, acceptance, friendship, and kindness.
My final thoughts on Wonder
Even though the film is criticised for not trying to cast an actual disabled actor to play the role of Auggie which indirectly made the film less realistic, the story itself was really well written and won the hearts of everyone who has read the book and watched the film.
Rose Alying Ellis is a British actress who was born deaf and mostly relies on sign language, however she often performs using Sign-supported English to reflect her own communication style and make it clear for audiences to understand her. She first gained an interest in acting after taking part in a filming weekend that was run by the National Deaf Children’s Society. It was on that weekend that she met a deaf film director that would kickstart her entire acting career.
Rose first acting role in a 25-minute movie called “The End” that was an award-winning short movie. She took part in several stage productions and in a music video by the Vamps as well as being a part of other short films. Rose also had minor roles in certain TV shows such as Casualty before finally landing her big role in EastEnders as Frankie Bridge in 2020 and becoming the first deaf celebrity to be on Strictly Come Dancing and becoming the winner in 2021.
Her time on EastEnders
EastEnders announced that Rose would be joining the cast as Frankie Bridge back in February 2020 and she wouldn’t make her on screen debut until a few months later. On the 18th of May, she was introduced as Ben Mitchell’s friend after he was diagnosed with deafness after the “Boat Crash” Storyline. She became a series regular while taking part in a few storylines in EastEnders over the past 2 years as well as getting a job at the Prince Albert Bar. She recently took a break from the show to focus on Strictly, however it was announced that she will return in the beginning of 2022.
The producers and writers of EastEnders were proud to create the soap’s first deaf character. They wanted to see more representation of deafness in the media and the use of sign language in scenes marks the first time it was used in any Soap Operas by an actual deaf actress. EastEnders also received a lot of praise with featuring a story on hearing loss and introducing a new deaf character. Rose also talked about her excitement with joining the cast and having her character being portrayed as a positive, upbeat person who embraces the deaf community and raises awareness for the deaf people in the UK and British Sign Language as well as being the first deaf character on the soap.
Her time on Strictly Come Dancing
On the 19th series of Strictly Come Dancing, Rose was one of the 15 celebrities that was confirmed to be taking part this year. This marked the first time that a Deaf Celebrity was on Strictly or on any other major shows such as I’m a Celebrity or Britain’s Got Talent. Rose won the hearts of the entire world and eventually went on to become the champions alongside her partner Giovanni Pernice. In an interview that she did before the show began, she said “I have a hearing aid, so I pick up some of the music and I can hear the beat. I can hear someone singing, but I can’t identify exact words. I also feel the vibrations” which made people believe that she will do well on the show.
During Rose’s time on Strictly Come Dancing, she rose more awareness to the deaf community as well as having some memorable moments such as scoring 40 points for their tango in week 6 which was the earliest “perfect score” in the show’s history. But in week 8, their Couple’s Choice dance featured a period of silence, this was included as a tribute to the deaf community, that same dance also won the TV Moment of the Year at the Heats Unmissable Awards.
How did she bring more awareness to the deaf community?
Since Rose won Strictly, she has raised more awareness of the deaf community helped to increase the number of people wanting to learn sign language: google searches for BSL have gone up by 448%. This would be beneficial as even learning a little bit of sign language can allow a hearing person to make a difference to the deaf community and help them understand one another. As well as that, she also shown how deaf people can do anything that they wanted to do.
This film is about non-verbal autism and is based on the book The Reason I Jump written by Naoki Higashida when he was 13 years old. Naoki is now 28 years old and will be 29 in exactly 28 days. Naoki is a non-verbal autistic person from Japan. The book was published in Japan in 2007. The English translation was published in 2013 by Keiko Yoshida and her husband, English author David Mitchell who have a son who is autistic and non-verbal. Keiko and David were very passionate about this book because they felt this is the only book which helped them to understand their son. Naoki’s book is invaluable to help understand severely autistic children and young people because it is the only book about autism written by an someone who is autistic and non-verbal.
This film is part documentary, part dramatisation and has an actor playing Naoki Higashida when he was a boy. The film shows Naoki walking along the beach and countryside explaining lots of feelings, emotions and sensory input from his surroundings. While this is being shown there is a narrator speaking the words of Naoki from his book, where he expresses his thoughts and feelings around his autism and non-verbal autism in general. Naoki’s account being read out in the film is incredibly powerful, extremely insightful and very thought-provoking. In my opinion the most powerful quote of Noaki’s is, “To live my life as a human being there is nothing more important than being able to express myself”.
The idea of turning the book in to a film came from the parents of a teenager I’ll mention later on. His parents Stevie Lee and Jeremy Dear, were the producers of the film. They had read the book and it had transformed their understanding of their son. Without the parents of servery autistic children and adults this film would of not been made. The documentary part shows non-verbal autistic people from all over the world. From England they film Joss Dear a teenager who is severely autistic and can speak but speaks mainly by one word responses or repeating worlds from a long time ago that people have said, mainly his parents. Joss is very sensory, he enjoys blowing bubbles, bouncing on his trampoline and swinging very high on a swing. Joss is unable to explain why he does what he does and like what he likes. He just knows what he likes and people can see he likes it because he is showing experiences of pure joy. One of the reasons that makes the film so immersive and fascinating, is when the film shows autistic people from around the world doing what they enjoy. The words from Naoki that are in his book were said by the voice of the book Jordan O’Donegan. Where Naoki’s insight is invaluable because he describes the reason autistic people do what they do. His words describe Joss perfectly. When he is jumping, Naoki’s words are voiced over, while the footage of Joss being shown is a very good way of showing what incredible insight Naoki has given Joss’ parents and everyone else.
I really enjoyed the film and it taught me a lot, even as an autistic young person myself, about non-verbal autism, because I am fully verbal and only know a few people who are non-verbal. The cinematography is very good, shows some stunning views around the world and captures all of the people videoed in the film exactly. I feel one of the most important parts for people to take away from the film is about Naoki and two autistic friends from America who are non-verbal. These three young people have non-verbal autism however they are all very articulate and all use the letter board to communicate. They all have a very high level of understanding of themselves and the world around them. This makes the powerful point that non-verbal autism is not talked about much and still very much misunderstood. It is still very much the belief, that non-verbal servery autistic people with have a limited understanding and severe learning difficulties, which is not always the case. As these three in individuals show very powerfully. Another part I really liked was when Joss was looking over a fence at a mental green box with lots of cables in. He wanted to climb in but his dad told him not to because of course it’s too dangerous to climb in. It is incredible that Joss can hear the green box, without seeing it, from quite a distance. Listening and finding the green boxes has become a fascination for Joss and he can sit with his head to one of them for a long time.
I would recommend anyone with an interest in autism or additional needs to watch this film. It is a very unique film which is very thought provoking to all that see it. I would give this film a 5 out of 5 star rating because the director Jerry Rothwell did exactly what he set out to do. “As a film maker”, he said, that making a film about Naoki’s book would “offer a great opportunity to use the full potential of cinema to evoke intense sensory worlds in which meaning is made through sounds, pictures and associations as well as words.” He said by creating this film, “My hope is that the reason I Jump can encourage an audience into thinking about autism from the inside, recognising other ways of seeing the world, both beautiful and disorientating.” He also said, “I hope the film takes audiences on a journey through different experiences of autism, leaving a strong sense of how the world needs to change to be more inclusive.”
As seeing the film myself, I would say that’s definitely what I got out of the film and I think many others will too. This film will probably send you on a roller coaster of emotions from felling happy, stunned, sad, surprised and cross. At times the film is funny, sad, enlightening, inspiring, powerful and most of all, gives you a small insight of what it can be like for people who are autistic and nonverbal.
You may have heard of Sia’s new movie, Music, which was criticised before release for casting a non-autistic actor as a mostly non-verbal, autistic main character.
In the midst of Sia lashing out at criticism on social media, ATLAS members talked about how the casting of Music and the release trailer made them feel.
Many of the young people were disappointed that a potential opportunity for representation of girls with autism was overwritten by ableism:
Other young people were torn, because they felt that additional needs and disabilities have been successfully portrayed by actors without additional needs and disabilities elsewhere:
Overall, ATLAS members did not feel that the casting of ‘Music’ was positive.
The portrayal of autism in the media
Sadly, this film does not stand in isolation. The majority of ATLAS members reported that they felt the portrayal of autism in the media was either ‘not very good’ or ‘really terrible’.
There were mixed views around having non-speaking autistic characters in films, however there was a largely positive response to having female characters with autism.
Film is a powerful medium. When used correctly, it can empower and educate people. When somebody sees a film focused on autism, that may be their first exposure to the idea of autism or to an autistic person. This provides an opportunity for people to talk about and approach autism in better ways. Unfortunately, if the film misrepresents people with autism, then the ideas taken from a film could lead to autistic people being viewed and treated in negative ways.
two people with the same condition can have completely different experiences of it
the level of disability someone might experience can vary from day to day.
When people don’t understand the nature of fluidity in disability, it leads to stereotyping and contributes to how disabling society is. People with additional needs and disabilities are actively excluded based on assumptions and passively through it being ignored.
The most important thing to do is listen.
You don’t need to understand how an additional need or disability affects someone to accept it. To believe the individual. To accommodate.
I’m going to crush you with my love
Perhaps one of the most dangerous misunderstandings the film portrays is the use of prone restraint. Restraint should only be used if there is an immediate danger to that individual or others. When that danger has passed, restraint should stop.
ATLAS recently talked about the use of restraint in schools for managing the behaviour of young people with additional needs and disabilities:
Participation, participation, participation
The film Music being released at the same time as ATLAS is starting to look towards Autism Awareness Week (29th March to 4th April 2021) highlights to me the sheer importance of participation and listening to the voices of people who are experts in their own experience!
How different these events could have been if the voices shared around the release trailer of Music had been properly listened to and acted upon. How different the representation of minorities, vulnerable groups, discriminated groups, those the industry continuously promote stereotypes about could be.
Film can reflect society, but it can also heavily influence it and bring about positive change.
ATLAS members have some advice for anyone reading this who wishes to portray characters with additional needs and disabilities:
Written by Sabrina Peters, Additional Needs and Disabilities Participation Officer and edited by Rowan Foster, ATLAS member and Bank worker for the User Voice and Participation Team.