I’ve just caught up with the latest episode of Channel 4’s ‘Born Naughty?’. When this series started, we hadn’t yet received Tink’s diagnosis, but we had been for the assessments, so I was a little familiar with the process used by the ‘experts’ in the programme. I didn’t realise at first that there would be such a heavy emphasis on ASD throughout the series, so I, personally, have found it fascinating, as well as incredibly emotional at times, having being through the same process as some of the parents in the show.
I gather there has been some controversy in the autism world over the title of the programme, as well as the possible sensationalist nature of it. My view?..
As a parent of a newly diagnosed child, just beginning on our journey in this confusing, scary, fascinating world, I found the series informative in a non-patronising way, shedding light on what had, up to now, been a relative mystery to me and something that happens to other people’s kids. The episode with the 3 year old girl, eventually diagnosed with ASD? I pretty much sobbed all through that one. It was the week before our outcomes meeting and that little girl was Tink (apart from she had tantrums more than Tink!). I sat watching them deliver their diagnosis and I pretty much knew that would be me in a matter of days. I knew exactly what her parents were feeling, thinking, and I wanted to give them a big hug and tell them, “it’s ok. It will be ok. We’re in it together. We can do this.”
I feel they dealt with the families sensitively (I did wonder how many of them have genuinely been fighting for a diagnosis for a while, and how many just fancied getting on the telly…?) and I liked that even when the expected diagnosis wasn’t given, they still appeared to offer support in finding what may be the issue instead.
As for the title? That little question mark makes all the difference really, doesn’t it? I’m sure lots of ASD children out there have been labelled as ‘naughty’ by people who don’t know them or their diagnosis. Goodness knows, I’ve read enough to know it goes on all the time, so these parents can’t really expect Channel 4 not to use that inference somewhere in the programme, and they do love a title that grabs attention (and viewers, of course. That’s what this is all about). But that question mark is the difference. It’s what makes the viewer stop and think. We’ve been ‘fortunate’ with Tink really, in that she doesn’t often display ‘naughty’ behaviour. She has the odd meltdown when asked to do something she doesn’t want to do, but other than that, she’s a pretty good girl for an ASD preschooler! I’ve certainly worked with many children over the years who have been much ‘naughtier’! And none with any sort of ASD diagnosis, although who knows? Maybe after watching this programme there will be a sudden deluge of parents requesting assessments for their’ naughty ‘ children? Of course, the resulting pressure on the NHS and the increase in already-ridiculous waiting times isn’t a good thing, but the raised awareness and, hopefully, acceptance of this amazing condition our children have? That can only be good, surely?