From viral videos to shocking studies, when it came to autism related news, October pulled no punches. That’s why today, I wanted to take a look at the month that was, and create a round-up of all the most important articles, announcements and otherwise chin stroking stuff which you may have missed.

In priority order, here are your headlines from October 2017 (links to the full stories can be accessed by clicking on the bold red in the bullet points):

Autism News You Won’t Want to Miss:

  • Chris Packham becomes autistic ambassador: Known best as the presenter of Springwatch and The Really Wild Show, Chris Packham was appointed ambassador for the National Autistic Society in October. Starting on the right foot Packham began his ambassadorship with a BBC documentary called Asperger’s and Me (which judging by the amount of people who can’t believe I haven’t watched it yet, seems like it was incredibly well received).
  • Autism Hour: What can be said about Autism Hour which I haven’t previously said in last month’s Autism Hour post? Well, how about that ‘#AutismHour’ and ‘#AutismTMI’ were discussed so much on Twitter that they ranked in the top 5 around the world? Or that Autism Hour was so well received, that certain ASDA stores, the Tate in Liverpool and many other locations are set to make it a regular event? Yes, it seems that Autism Hour blew everyone’s expectations (even an optimist like myself). So let’s hope we start seeing more of these events soon (although for the sake of my wallet, not too soon).
  • Mum caught on camera dragging autistic child down street: The most controversial piece of news to come out this month, was a video of a woman dragging her autistic son through the streets of Liverpool. This video quickly went viral and has since gone on to split many in the community: as some believe the mother should be punished for treating the boy ‘like a dog’, others have a more sympathetic view. I can see the argument from both sides, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable giving my opinion based on one short video. However, speaking from personal experience, I used to be a living nightmare, when I would throw a tantrum, and dragging me out of situations was the only solution to avoid major collateral damage.
  • A diagnosis of autism can now take up to 44 months: A piece of news which didn’t exactly surprise me, but did depress me; The waiting time for children with suspected autism to get a diagnosis can now take as long as 44 months. The significance of this is worrying as early intervention for autistic children and their parents is crucial, in teaching them coping techniques and optimising their life experience. So without a definitive diagnosis, a child can be left in uncertainty for years. This must change.
  • A good month for autism in TV and Film: As well as Chris Packham’s Asperger’s and Me documentary, this month also saw a slew of releases featuring people with autism. From the award-winning Monaco documentary ‘Dina’ to CBeebies animated show ‘Pablo’, this month it felt like you couldn’t change the channel without finding a programme discussing or portraying autism.
    Written by one of the great minds behind ‘Pablo’: Sumita Majumdar and voiced by Honey Jones (an actor who also has autism), The Party is easily one of the best things to have come out during October (which is saying something, for a month which also saw the release of a new Thor film, a new Super Mario game and the new season of Stranger Things!).

The Autism News ‘that happened’ (and I have nothing else to comment):

Here are the stories for October which, like pebbles in the ocean, made a bit of a splash but have now been quickly forgotten. I am by no means claiming that any of these articles are insignificant, however, most have already been well-covered, or I have little/nothing else to add.

Photo Credit: Seven News/Facebook

Name and Shame Articles on Autism:

October 1st 2017 was nothing short of a horrific day, as Stephen Paddock, a lone gunman, shot at festival goers in Las Vegas from his hotel room: killing 58 and injuring hundreds more. As of the date of writing this (1/11/2017) Paddock’s motives remain unknown. But this hasn’t stopped people making wild assumptions and reporting them as fact.

In the days that following this terrible attack (in some cases the day after), some publications and one amateur YouTuber, published reports, stating that is was likely Paddock had asperger’s syndrome. As with everyone at that point in time, most had little or no information on the shooter. Given the fact that these articles describe autism as ‘a mental illness’, it’s safe to say research isn’t really their thing.

Apparently, the only ‘proof’ these articles needed to make their ‘diagnosis’, was that Paddock liked videogames and disliked social settings…. Wow! Why have we got a 44 month waiting list for diagnosis, when these guys can get the job done in no time!  (sarcasm intended).

The problem I have with these articles isn’t that they are stating random suggestions as fact, as I feel safe in the knowledge that most people (especially readers of this article) will see how stupid these reports really are. The reason I feel these articles really deserve to be named and shamed, however, is that they serve no purpose, other than to use shock tactics to link people with autism to monstrous acts. This is not only in poor taste, but it’s also wrong.

If, for some reason you do want to read one of these ‘reports’, then click on the article headline linked below:
Did Stephen Paddock Have Asperger’s Disorder?

What’s new for Autism in November 2017:

Only 2 pieces of news for November 2017 so far, but if you do spot any events please, message me and I will aim to add them to the list as soon as possible.

  • The A word season 2: This Tuesday (7th November) at 21:00, autism focused mini-series The A-Word returns to the BBC.  Starring Christopher Eccleston, The A-word is the story of a family learning to deal with their 5 year old son’s diagnosis of autism (at least that’s what I have been told it is about, but I can’t confirm this until I finish marathoning the first series this weekend).
  • Night of Too Many Stars: On November 18th HBO will partner with Next for Autism, to raise money for autistic schools and programmes. The live show will include a variety of sketches and skits and will feature many well known celebs such as Olivia Munn, Ben Stiller and Adam Sandler.

(Photo Credit: BBC)

Carry on the Conversation:

So that was the news for in October 2017, is there anything I missed? Let me know in the comments below. Also I would love to get people’s opinions of The Party: the VR video from the Guardian.

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Thank you for reading and I will see you next Saturday for more thoughts from across the spectrum.