The Autistic Me: One Year On
A few months ago I reviewed the documentary ‘The Autistic Me’, where we were introduced to Thomas, Ollie, and Alex. This documentary goes back to see them one year later and see how their lives have changed.
First up we are reintroduced to Ollie, and he is having a difficult time. He feels constantly patronised and stereotyped, and is quite bitter and angry at the world because of it. He has been given a place on a training course where he is to learn the skills for the working world, but quite rightly argues that he has already held down a job – it’s not more training he needs, it’s an opportunity.
Then we meet Tom again, who could no longer stay in residential care after his GCSEs and – if that wasn’t enough – he has been uprooted and moved to Cornwall with his family.We are told that his younger brother Josh is also autistic, something that wasn’t mentioned in the first documentary, and honestly I don’t know why it’s brought up in this one either because there is one single conversation with him and then he’s not seen again. Tom is still struggling with social isolation and depression, but now with the added anxiety of his upcoming attendance at a huge, mainstream college.
Then finally Alex, who has continued his relationship with Kirsty – although they have not met up again since their first date due to money constraints. His job has converted to a permanent position which he is quite happy in and he has positive thoughts of the future, whilst still acknowledging his limitations and need for assistance.
We also get a few filming sessions with Kirsty, and whilst this isn’t as in-depth as the parts concerning the three men and there is a tendency for her segments to still focus on Alex, it is still a positive inclusion to get a brief look into her life. It’s just a shame it couldn’t have been expanded to be another documentary involving her and two other autistic women.
The documentary then follows the three men through the new steps in their lives where we get to see more of their personalities than the first documentary afforded us, and we witness the changes in their lives and challenges this brings for them. The audience is shown that there are accepting and accommodating and decent people out there and who are a part of Tom, Ollie or Alex’s lives; but sadly they are also shown how difficult and unaccepting some people can be. The lack of appropriate support that I brought up reviewing the first documentary is obvious again in this documentary, and of the three it hits Ollie the hardest.
Despite the apparent lack of support from his parents, who express their low expectations for him in front of him, Tom looks set for his life to be getting better. There hasn’t been much change in Alex’s life but he’s happy and looking to the future. Ollie however is struggling with health problems, depression, and over-reliance on food and alcohol. It was difficult to watch many of his sections, especially given how vibrant and optimistic he was in the first documentary.
(Sadly Alex died following an epileptic seizure in his sleep in early 2016; he seemed like a wonderful young man, son, and brother and this was very sad to learn)
Is it worth watching?
Yes, this documentary – much like the first – is a reminder that society seems to forget that autistic children become autistic teenagers and then autistic adults, and there is often very little appropriate support.